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Working with family easier said than done

Agriculture.com Staff 07/07/2010 @ 9:09am

You love your family, so you should love working with them too, right? "Not necessarily," according to Sarah Fogleman, a Kansas State University Extension agricultural economist.

At a recent Women in Agriculture Conference sponsored by the University of Nebraska, Fogleman told a group of nearly 400 women that working with family can be an incredibly rewarding -- and at the same time, challenging -- experience.

"The only thing more personal and volatile than families are family businesses," she said. "When it works, it's beautiful. When it doesn't work, it's ugly."

You love your family, so you should love working with them too, right? "Not necessarily," according to Sarah Fogleman, a Kansas State University Extension agricultural economist.

Every person in a family business has three roles: Business, family and personal. For example, your business role might be that of financial manager, production manager or assistant. In the family, you might be the father, mother, brother, sister, grandparent or child. On a personal level, you're a church member, student or sports fan.

Defining separate family and business roles can also be a big help when transitioning the farm from one generation to the next. The farm is more than just a business, it's part of the family's identity.

There are some families, Fogleman admits, that aren't cut out to work together. This happens most often when people just aren't able to separate their business and family lives.

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