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Mother-Daughter Business Team Likely to Become More Common

NOW that fathers are more often passing the crown of business ownership onto their daughters, another rite of passage is taking place: Mothers are preparing their daughters to take over their businesses.

This trend is in its infancy, but more and more women are starting businesses. So the odds of daughters succeeding mothers appear to be greater than daughters succeeding fathers, researchers say.

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The National Foundation for Women Business Owners (NFWB) estimates that there are about 7.7 million women-owned businesses in the United States. They represent more than one-third of all businesses in the country. And the number could increase to 40 percent by 2000, the NFWB reports.

''The young women who I've spoken to see more possibilities of taking over a business when their mothers are the founders ... than when their fathers are,'' says Fredda Herz Brown, a principal at The Metropolitan Group, a family-business consulting firm in Leonia, N.J.

Take MicroMash, a developer of professional-education software in Englewood, Colo. Jan Monroe started the firm about 10 years ago. Within a year, her daughter, Elizabeth, who had worked in property management for about five years, joined her. The company currently boasts about 80 employees.

Much as with the father-son team, consultants contend that mothers and daughters generally share the same competitive nature.

Elizabeth Monroe, vice president at MicroMash and in charge of sales and marketing, agrees. ''In a father's [business], you grow up with daughters trying to please Daddy, and Daddy takes care of daughter. But mothers and daughters compete with each other,'' she says. ''The 'Daddy's little girl made a mistake' routine doesn't work, because mothers don't permit that out of their daughters. They raise their daughters to be survivors.''

Monroe also speculates that she might not have been given as much responsibility as early if her father had been at the helm. ''In my 20s, when I was taking on responsibilities that my mother was willing to give me, [my father] probably wouldn't have done it that soon,'' she says. She works hard, she says, to break people's thinking of her and her mother as ''mother and daughter in the office.''

''I walked into work the first day and said: 'Good morning Jan.' I didn't say, 'Good morning, Mom.' '' She says she had to explain to her mother that if she addressed her as ''Mom,'' she would never earn the respect of employees and clients.

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It has taken clients sometimes four years to figure out they are a mother-daughter team, she says.

''Jan's and my advice to women has always been: Don't think about being a female,'' Monroe says. ''Just do the business the way you do your business, and you'll find, in most instances, you're accepted.''

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