7 Lessons My Dad Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

My dad is a very successful entrepreneur in his own right.  He’s been working for himself, living the American Dream for the past 25+ years.  He has his own antique auction and self-storage business.

As a child, I watched my dad leave his job security to pursue his dreams and ambitions of being his own boss.  By his example, I learned a lot about the mental toughness, guts, vision and the courage someone has to have to give up a steady paycheck and take a walk into the unknown. Because of his example (and I’m wired a lot like he is) I decided to start my own business when I was 24 years old.  I’ve been an entrepreneur ever since (13 years).

What I would like to do in this post is share a few things that my dad taught me about entrepreneurship.  These are some simple, yet powerful lessons that really shaped my life. They are listed in no particular order.  Enjoy.

# 1 Do Something You Love

My dad has never worked a day in the past 25 years.  Yes, he has done the physical work, but for him it is a labor of love.  My dad loves people and he loves buying and selling antiques. Buying antiques is like one big treasure hunt for him.  He never knows what he will find or who he will meet.  I know that for the past 25+ years my dad woke up every day and loved to go to work!  I couldn’t imagine him going to a job and having a boss tell him what to do.  I learned that if you do what you love you will (1) never work a day in your life and (2) the money will follow.

# 2 Believe in Yourself

My dad is a confident guy. Not arrogant, just confident.  He believes in himself and what he is doing.  Even before his business became profitable he believed in what he was doing and knew he was capable of success.  I think that is one of the major reasons he became successful.  If you have self-esteem issues, get some help. You won’t make it long in business if you don’t believe in yourself.  Confidence is one of the most important attributes of any successful entrepreneur.

# 3 Businesses Take Years to Succeed

It took my dad nearly a DECADE to really build up some momentum in his business and get it over the hump.  During that time, he never wavered.  Yes, there were times he had to do some temporary jobs to help pay the bills.  But he stayed true to his purpose and made it work. Having been in business 13 years myself now, I understand this valuable lesson.  It’s taken me over 10 years to really figure my business out and build something I can be proud of. The bottom line is: don’t expect to be an overnight success with your business.  Good things take time.  Have some patience and persist.

# 4 Learn from Your Mistakes

No one is perfect and no business is perfect.  My dad made many changes to his business through the years, from scaling his business up to scaling it down, to changing how many auctions he had, to what types of auctions he had.  He constantly reflects and analyzes on what is working in his business and what isn’t working well.   He makes sure that every mistake is an opportunity to learn something new.

# 5 Realize You Are in The People Business

Every entrepreneur is in the people business.  Yet, some entrepreneurs don’t understand that. My dad is naturally good with people and can make a new friend anywhere he goes. People like him, trust him and respect him.  I learned that if you want to make it in business you have to be able to get along with people.  You need a good handshake, good eye contact, good people skills, and most importantly, integrity.  You won’t keep many customers if people don’t like you. Never forget that people like to do business with people they know, like and trust.

# 6 Have a Supportive Spouse

My dad is very lucky to have such a supportive spouse (my mom).  My mom went back to work when my dad first started his business.  That was tough for her, but fortunately everything worked out fine, and after a few years she quit her job to be a stay at home mom again.  I learned that having a supportive spouse can make all the difference to your long term success and happiness.  If your spouse is constantly nagging and complaining, you won’t be in business long (or you won’t be married long).  It’s also important to think from your spouse’s perspective and have frequent communication with them about how things are going.

# 7 Tweak and Change as Needed

Businesses constantly change.  So does the marketplace.  My dad is always analyzing and looking for new profit centers for his business.  He evaluates what he does, determines whether or not it is working well, and then modifies his game plan as needed.  He still keeps his core business, he just changes his strategy from time to time.  I encourage you to do the same thing!

Final Thoughts

I’m proud to say that I love, respect, and admire my dad.  He is one of my life and business mentors and one of my best friends.  He taught me so much about entrepreneurship and life, just by his example.  I consider myself very lucky to have Harold Holmes as my father. I hope these seven business lessons will help you as much as they have helped me.

What do you think?  Which lesson on this list resonates with you the most?  What did you learn about entrepreneurship from your dad?  Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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11 thoughts on “7 Lessons My Dad Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

  1. Mickiyas

    You’re lucky to have an entrepreneur dad that you look up to.

    My favorite lesson is #3. You might get successful much faster than 5-10 years. But in more cases than not, building a business takes time.

    Establish both long term and short term goals, and layout the steps you need take to reach your goals.

    There’s no such thing as overnight success. And understanding that will save you a lot of disappointment and frustration in the long-run.

  2. Diamond Grant

    Excellent lessons. Parents are always sharing nuggets of wisdom that we can apply in business and life. My dad too shared so many things with me as a child that I never imagined I would be able to reference now as an adult in the business world, but in fact I have benefited so much from those lessons. Many of the same lessons your dad passed on I also learned from both of my parents. It is a blessing to have people in our lives who want us to learn from their mistakes and grow into better people.

  3. Greg Boudonck

    My Father was also a strong mentor for me. He is retired from the Air Force, and also had his own CPA business. He taught me a lot about saving money and being wise in investing. I see your Dad also taught you a lot on these subjects.

    My Dad is now retired and lives in Arizona where he golfs often. I talk with him over the phone on a regular basis and he is still a great mentor to me. When it comes to tax questions, the first person I ask is my Dad.

    Our parents can teach us many things about business and life. I know mine have. Thanks for sharing about your Father Chuck.

  4. Mark Scott

    Thank You for writing this post. Your father’s teachings reminds me of my entrepreneur father as well and I always remember being a young girl listening to his lessons. And like you, I grew up not wanting to get involved in business, but 23 years later, I’m in the process of starting my own. This post is gold!

  5. Tony Mason

    This is a beautiful love letter to your father and a note of inspiration to anyone who wonders what drives entrepreneurs to push boundaries, the rules of logic and anything else that stands in the way of reaching goals.

  6. Eric scott

    Thank You for writing this post. Your father’s teachings reminds me of my entrepreneur father as well and I always remember being a young girl listening to his lessons. And like you, I grew up not wanting to get involved in business, but 23 years later, I’m in the process of starting my own. This post is gold!


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