Father Knew Best: Entrepreneurs Tell How Dad Inspired Them
Sometimes father does know best. At least that is what the entrepreneurs we asked had to say. Whether it was their strong work ethic, their never-give-up attitude or their advice to just believe in yourself, these Dads inspired their children to become the successful people they are today.
My Dad was definitely the inspiration for starting my own business. My "Papi" came from Mexico when he was in his 20's after meeting my mother, falling in love and retiring from bullfighting. He married, had five children and a mortgage when he decided to open his first jewelry store. He has also proven himself to be a "risk taker" facing bulls in the ring, as an immigrant starting a new life in a new country, and as an entrepreneur with lots to risk. Yes, he has always taken the bulls by the horns and moved forward without fear.
-- Darlene Tenes, CasaQ
My dad was self-employed for as long as I can remember. He taught me at a very young age that anything is possible -- you just need to work hard and believe in yourself. When things go wrong he taught me to break the problem down into bite size pieces and push ahead, taking on each piece one at a time until the issue was resolved. As a result, no problem was insurmountable and no goal out of reach. I have been empowered by this belief throughout my entire life, something that fuels me now more than ever as an entrepreneur.
-- Ann-Marie Fleming, Dog Quality Enterprises, Inc.
My Dad was the owner of a small business and he knew that he had to give it his all every day, because the business depended on him and his dedication to it. He took these same principles to raising a family , too. That inspired me to start my own company where I arrange pop songs for orchestra. My work ethic, business understanding, and family balance is what my dad has taught me. I learned that "you have to love what you do, and the money will come naturally". Sure, we all hear that quote often, but to see it growing up is what made me who I am.
-- Walt Ribeiro, For Orchestra
If it was not for my father I would have never wanted to go into business for myself. As a child my father would always say to me - No one is going to give you anything unless you work for it -so follow your dreams and the money will come. In 2010 when I was laid off from my corporate job, my father was the first one that said I should launch my venture and offered to help with incorporation costs. His acceptance of my talents was a sign for me that I was on the right path. Things have been successful for me with the agency and whenever I feel like giving up I look at a photo of the two of us and hear his words echoing in my mind.
-- Lynn Cooper, Socially Ahead
My dad has been the root of my drive and inspiration to become an entrepreneur. He owned his own businesses for over 30 years so as a kid I grew up watching him work hard for what he earned but also helping others along the way. He taught my younger sisters and I that you can always achieve anything if you put your mind to something and dream big. Because of him we actually created "Business Beware" together based on the family/small business values we grew up with thanks to our dad. So now we actually help small business owners and entrepreneurs everyday with what we do and it all started because our dad taught us the true meaning of being an entrepreneur and his drive became our inspiration. We are absolutely blessed to have him as a father and now have the privilege to work beside him.
-- Ashley Bodi, Business Beware
My father is a serial entrepreneur and I give him credit for instilling the same spirit in me. He has shown me that with enough determination and joy in what you do you can create something out of nothing. My father, left Spain at the age of 13, joined the merchant marines and traveled the world. By the time he was thirty, he married my mother and moved from Sevilla, Spain to Johannesburg, South Africa to start a custom cabinetry company. He also showed me how to learn from mistakes after that company began to fail and we started over in the US. He taught me that if I worked hard I could do and be anywhere I wanted. Almost a year ago I started my own company. It’s not easy, but I’ve never been happier. So like my father, I risked it all, sacrificed everything and I've never looked back.
-- Juan Fernandez Halcon, 7 Apps
My entrepreneurial spirit originated from my dad's entrepreneurial spirit. My dad immigrated to the US from Cuba. He had a vision for his family and was determined to do whatever it took to make it happen. He inspired the whole family to always keep trying something new and moving forward. I have taken that spirit with me in my "always keep moving forward" attitude towards life. My dad's never give up, independent attitude has always stayed with me. It is this independence that has inspired me to open up my own business developing mobile applications. We all have the power within us to overcome hardship and come out stronger on the other side. You have to choose and believe in yourself first. My dad taught me that if you can read you can learn and become anything you want. It's very liberating!
-- Mary Tamargo, NOCUBE,LLC
I grew up in Dallas, Texas, and my dad owned and ran a small printing business from the late 70s to early 90s. I believe I get every ounce of my work ethic, drive and entrepreneurial spirit from my father. He struggled through difficult times running the business (even working the night shift at UPS, I found out later in life - never knew that when it happened) and thrived during the good times. What I learned most, though, was his balance of work and life. Although he worked very hard (he was usually up at 4:00 am praying and out to work by 6:00 at the latest) but he made it to every soccer practice, special event at school or church function. Work was always second to God and family. It's certainly difficult, but I try my best to follow his lead.
-- Matt White, JoltCMS
My father is possibly the sole reason I am an entrepreneur today. The topic was always big in our conversations, his father was an entrepreneur and even his grandmother was one of the only woman (and Jewish) entrepreneurs in Iran, and was well respected by all the men in the diamond trade. My father told me of the trials and tribulations that he went through at the age of 14 and up when he left his parents home to go explore the world and become a tradesman. One of the most important lessons my father passed on to me is that to dream big and have goals and when people tell you something is impossible its probably what you should be looking to do. "What would my father do?" is a question that I ask when negotiating and making decisions. He always inspired me to think, dream and plan as big as possible and not take no for an answer.
-- Joshua Niamehr, LaundryLocal.com
Since I was a small child, I have traveled with both my mom and dad as they built their business into the success it is today. I saw firsthand the hard work involved, the risk, the tireless hours spent in expansion, and more. I also saw a man who was approachable, open to new ideas, determined, encouraging to employees, and made the tough decisions when needed. This man was also my father and never once forgot my brother or myself. At sixteen I wanted to be a fashion bag designer and took my plans to my father. He encouraged me to pursue it and gave me direction. Without his encouragement and belief in me, I would not have been able to live my dream. He is indeed my inspiration and will always be my loving father.
-- Faith Nicole Mouse, Flaunt
My father, Robert L. O'Brien who is now deceased, is absolutely my inspiration for becoming an entrepreneur. His inspiration for me is that he didn't become an entrepreneur with a desire to gain wealth or position in life, but instead the desire to take a leap of faith and make his dream of owning his own business a reality instead of just talking about it, even in the midst of what at times seemed insurmountable risk. At age 50 and a husband and father of 6 kids, he quit his job and opened a transmission repair business of which cars, he knew nothing about. To me this is success! My dad has inspired me to not only take the leap of faith to start my own business with my husband but has helped inspire me to redefine entrepreneur success.
-- Diane Hamilton, Binary Formations
The first entrepreneur to inspire me was my father. He grew up in poverty in Puerto Rico and dropped out of school in 6th grade because his teacher told him he was stupid. Instead of letting it defeat him, he eventually went back to school and graduated high school at the age of 21. He became the first person in his family to attend college, first as an undergrad in Puerto Rico, and then--after teaching himself English through a correspondence course--he attended graduate school at the University of Michigan. It was his lifelong dream to own a restaurant, and in the mid 80s, he started one of the first upscale Puerto Rican restaurants in the city of Chicago. Although the restaurant only lasted a year, the experience left a lasting impression on 10-year-old me. The fact that someone could start with nothing and wind up owning property and starting their own business well, isn’t that what this country is all about?
-- Rebeca Mojica, Blue Buddha Boutique
My Dad has inspired and continues to inspire me to become the successful entrepreneur I've become today. He's a landscape architect, and although each of the businesses we run is completely different, the principles and fundamentals of running a successful business are not. Since I was young, he instilled great values in me which have shaped the creative, independent and fun person I've become today. I've learned that there's nothing better than creating something from nothing and having an incredible sense of independence to be self-reliant and at the same time, extremely appreciated by clients and customers.
-- Jonathon Papsin, Tag Sell It Inc.
My Dad has his original business license since 1952. He is semi-retired at 86 years old. He started out with $11.00 to his name and with tenaciously, grueling hard work, common sense and a lack of a formal college education-ended up owning three car dealerships and the properties. Growing up with my father, nothing was giving to me, including a car. “Pride of ownership of anything must be worked for” was one of his sayings to me. I am a manufacturer and retailer with growing success. I'm also proud to say I paid for my own college. Thanks Dad! Xxoo
-- Sandy Alcide, Motion Medica
I grew up in a family business that was started in 1872 and worked alongside my father and grandfather until I finished college. It is still running and thriving today. While I chose not to join the family business I have pursued a number of entrepreneurial ventures over the years, and many of them have touched my father's business. His operating principles in hiring and retaining great employees, building a principled culture, having a customer-first attitude, and leading by example have served me well in my businesses. I often cite his advice of "never ask anyone in the company to do anything you wouldn't do."
-- Carey Ransom, RealPracticeOffice
My dad and my grandfathers are all entrepreneurs - guess you could say it’s in the blood. Watching my dad as I grew up, I was amazed at how much all of his customers adored him. I would ask him about it, and, time and again, he drilled into me that the most important thing you have in business is your reputation, your name. It’s everything, because business is all about the relationships you build. He taught me to work hard, and that success is about a lot more than what you do for yourself. It’s about what you do for others, whether or not you create jobs, help people, and fill a real need.
-- Aaron K. Harris, Tutorspree
I came to the US from Russia when I was very young with my father, mother and older brother and we had absolutely nothing. My father worked as a delivery driver at Papa Ginos to support his family and saved enough money to take a computer class at night. He finished the class and started working in computers and worked his way up the corporate ladder. Now a senior engineer at a major security software company, my father has always been my inspiration of the American dream and taught me that I could achieve anything that I wanted. He had to start from scratch in a country whose language he did not speak, while taking care of not only himself but 4 other hungry mouths and still managed to become very successful. It was because of him that I wanted to start my own companies and further proof that anyone can do anything they want if they work hard.
-- Polina Raygorodskaya, Polina Fashion LLC
My father is my inspiration for becoming an entrepreneur as he raised me to be like him, to try to leave a significant mark in this world. He taught me that we only have one go-round in this life and we should aspire to make a difference, no matter what field of interest I eventually pursued. My father did some amazing things in his life, mostly related to Public Health and establishing the State of Israel. My career has been in filmmaking, then software, and now my own start-up. He supported my career choices and changes, but always held me to the standard, what will you do for others that they will look back at you in appreciation of, just earning a living was never enough. Creating something out of nothing, the definition of a start-up, is the ultimate expression of my father’s life values. This is why, at age 58, I am proud to be a first-time entrepreneur.
-- Seth Cohen, Screenius
My father was an exciting man. As I was growing up, I watched him jump from career to career like a student switching from majors. I watched my father become a stock market day-trader, the owner of a gas station, the owner of a framing shop, and the CEO of a courier service. He did it all by himself, without investors or partners. He never failed in his endeavors, he just believed in living a passionate life. I’m following in his footsteps because I want the flexibility and freedom to live as I please. The other day I saw an old newspaper article which had a picture of him as a chemist working for Whirlpool Corp. I didn’t even know about that!
-- Kareem Ahmed, New Economy Labs
My Dad (and Mom) always had retail stores growing up, fun little shops that sold books, gifts and Christmas items. I can remember grabbing the cash box and running up to the store, The Whalers Walk, behind our house to wait on customers who came to visit. That is where I learned to make change, interact with all different types of customers and generally sparked my entrepreneurial flame! While he later spent 20 years teaching business at Kent State University, my Dad never lost that attitude, challenging the administration and getting into trouble about every other day with his tell-it-like-it-is attitude. I am so thankful that this was a part of my childhood and that I am now a 44 year old business owner with over 32 years of experience behind me. Thanks Dad!
-- Tara Jacobsen, Marketing Artfully
My father, Dan, carried on his father's legacy in the restaurant business upon returning from WWII and remained in the business until the day he died. In all the years of watching him with his guests and staff, I was always amazed with his ability to make an instant connection and friendship. Always a giving man, his legacy lives on through his sons, all of whom continue in the restaurant industry in some capacity. What dad gave to his sons was not only a tireless work ethic, but a genuine desire to serve our guests and staff, and the community in which we live. For this, we honor Dan Anthony, a visionary restaurateur and an inspiration to all.
-- Nick Anthony, Papouli's Greek Grill