When I was growing up, entrepreneurship was the norm in our household. Dad always ran his own business. Mom worked in the business a few days a week. My sister and I helped on the weekends. Like most family businesses, my father enjoyed some exceptional years and a few lean years. He was smart and never over-extended himself. After three decades, he eventually sold his profitable business. Even though Dad is ‘retired’, he still works a few hours each week – he says it ‘keeps him young’.
The lessons taught to me by my dad were gained more from observation than actual sit-downs and ‘chats’. I observed a confident man who knew when to take risks and when not to follow the herd. Entrepreneurship and managed risk were lessons I learned from observation; the technical business dynamics were learned at school which was fully encouraged by my parents.
Of course my dad is a hero to me. He always exuded confidence and leadership. When sales were slow, he remained confident working to ensure the business would remain stable. When sales pick-up, my father focused on managing growth and building a stronger foundation. These are lessons that I learned by watching, observing and listening to my dad.
Because of my upbringing, business ownership has always felt natural to me. It is what I know best. Even as an employee, I thought of myself as independently contracting my time to the company.
What will you teach your children? Children pay very little attention to what you say. They watch what you do, and they copy you. If you are in the military, there is a good chance your children will join the military. If you work for the government, then your children will be naturally inclined to government jobs. If you are a doctor, then your child will consider the medical profession. As discussed in The Educated Franchisee, people are most comfortable with what they know and are less comfortable with what is unknown. What you DO has a large impact on what your children know. This knowledge colors how your children see the world and their role in it.
In my family, I want my children to see themselves as independent, self-reliant and empowered just as my parents did for me. As a result, I let them help with my businesses. I want them to take ownership of their future. Recently my children came up to me and said, ‘Dad, what kind business should we own when we grow up?’ Wow. What a great question. I love the fact that they are already thinking independently. I fully realize they will, early in their career, work for other people. This is an important part of the process; however, I also know that they will never let the job ‘own’ them. They will always know that they can start and run their own business. Why? Because their old man did.
So, what are you teaching your children? Have you always wanted to own your own business but never have the guts to make it happen? What does that teach your children? If you are at a place where you are serious about business ownership, find a franchise coach and invest the time to find the right business. Involve the entire family and create a new trajectory for your family. Remember, unfulfilled dreams don’t count. All that matters is what you do.