Consider this question: if you were chartering a private plane, would you rather it was flown by a competent pilot or by a member of the business owner’s family? In this scenario, who really cares about family affiliations? You most likely want the best person for the job of getting you in one piece from Point A to Point B.

By thinking about this question, you are beginning to grapple with the issue of families in business. If you have family members in your company, you need to proceed with caution; along with potential benefits, there are clear pitfalls the savvy business owner and executive should guard against.

What do owners and CEOs want?

Business owners and CEOs want their companies to be run in the best possible way. The next question is: who can best provide this direction for their organization? Could the best candidate be a member of family? After all, these employees may have grown up in the business and been schooled by the founder. They may be steeped in specialized knowledge, fit into the company culture, and understand the company’s winning formula. They could know and love the business and its customers. It is possible that a family member really is the best candidate. Over the following weeks I will cover stories from four different family business and offer advice to family business owners.