I’m convinced that if I had a dollar for every time I was asked the question, “How did you decide to be an entrepreneur and/or work in family business” I’d be mighty rich (totally kidding). I get asked this question by peers, those in the corporate world and even by random strangers which I still wonder how we ever get on the subject at times…
Here’s what I can tell you -I did not plan on doing anything close to what I’m doing now. I had grown up with many family members who ran their own businesses and were successful while also having failures along the way too so I got to see both sides. The day that I did start working with the family businesses right out of college there were times that they would let me make mistakes BUT they let me learn from them. They didn’t do everything for me, they pushed me to learn and even when I made a mistake I was able to learn from it for the future.
I didn’t necessarily love what I was doing at 22 years old working with a new fence company that my dad bought but I can look back now and realize what all it taught me as in dealing with customers, working with vendors, managing finances and being flexible with my roles. There were some days I was out having to give bids to residential/commercial customers, the next day I was running a tractor for my dad with his other company, the next day laying sod for a new spring training ball field or in the office working up bids and completing orders. And yes, I even had to clean the bathrooms.
I’m convinced that everything you do in life is for a reason and somehow it leads you to other things you may have never even dreamed of. Sometimes you have to do things maybe you’re not crazy about to figure out what you would like to do.
Remember when you’re young and you start playing a sport whether you wanted to or your parents signed you up for it? I played basketball and and softball growing up then my freshman year my basketball coach told us we had to pick a fall sport to play to keep workouts going. I knew soccer was not my jam, people running up and down the field trying to kick your shins was a complete turn off. Cross country I couldn’t get past the thought of just running for that long when I only ran sprints to get down the court to make a hoop or rebound. So I chose volleyball and man I fell hard for that sport. It was a challenge and I loved it. It made me push myself harder than I had before and I would constantly practice to get better. I actually quit the other two sports to focus on volleyball only because I wanted a scholarship for college.
That’s what entrepreneurship is – being up for a challenge, not afraid of some setbacks, practicing in the areas you’re weaker to do a better job and not losing focus when things get tough. Oh and FLEXIBILITY as in just like when the coach normally plays you at shortstop but then decides to put you in left field. Some days you’ll have to do the behind scenes things to make sure other pieces come together too.
You’re going to have a lot of people probably question what you do or when you make the decision to take the leap to start a business. I recently spoke with a corporate person who traded in their high heels with the corporate world to start her own design and art studio. She hasn’t looked back since and said she had many people tell her she was making a mistake. She now has surpassed her dreams and actually doing very well for herself and her team. Ignore the smack talk from people, they are probably just jealous you’re loving life and doing something you love. I had a guy that works in the corporate world who thinks very highly of himself (as I still try to understand how and why) make the comment, “She doesn’t work, she works in a family business.” I have no comment for it, I just knew all of you who read this will enjoy the stupidity of that comment just as my family did.
Do what makes you happy even if that means you don’t make as much money because in the end money doesn’t matter, the journey does. CHALLENGE. PRACTICE. FLEXIBILITY. FOCUS.