Some people are lucky enough to grow up in an entrepreneurial family. I am one of the lucky ones. I learned so much from working with my grandfather at his small businesses when I was younger. I mean, what could be better than working at an ice cream store?

Inspired by that, my husband Phil and I make sure we share the lessons and joys of entrepreneurship with our children. With that in mind, and in honor of Father’s Day, we talked to several entrepreneurial fathers to find out what they learned from their dads and what valuable business lessons they’ve passed on to their children.

Barry Cohen of Rockwood Search

Was your dad an entrepreneur?
Yes, he had his own accounting practice.

Did that inspire you to become one?
No, at that time, I did not really see him as one. Only later did I realize it.

What business lessons did you learn from your father?
Work hard—and if you work for yourself, there is no 9 to 5. The more you put in, the more you get out. But, find the time for your kids, which he did not. It’s not about working 24/7.

Do you want your kids to be entrepreneurs?
I’ve felt my daughter should choose that path but never thought it would be right for my son. We are all different, and some are not cut out for the total self-motivation that it takes.

What’s your best business advice for your children? 
Find happiness in your career. This November 2nd will be 40 years for me in the staffing business—32 as an owner. I still love going to work.

TJ McCue of Refine Digital Marketing Services

Was your dad an entrepreneur?

My Dad was not an entrepreneur technically, but he was constantly inventing things—gadgets to make life easier, ways to fix stuff. He was incredibly handy, and I have vivid memories of working in the shop together, me taking things apart, him working to put them back together! He built a workbench for me,  for my height, when I was 7 or 8, complete with its own stepped-down electrical area so I could build circuits of various types (it was a doorbell transformer).

Did that inspire you to become one?

He definitely inspired me to look for ways to solve problems and never to be afraid to break something because you could almost always fix it. Looking back, this maker, inventor mindset is a gift he gave me. It led to me starting my own businesses—nothing too entrepreneurial, washing cars, mowing lawns, walking dogs.

What business lessons did you learn from your father?

He taught me to always finish the job. Once, I didn’t mow a lawn I promised to do, and he took me to the neighbors after dark and walked beside me with a flashlight. Keep your word and finish what you start.

Do you want your kids to be entrepreneurs?/ What’s your best business advice for your children? 

All his life, I’ve told my now 17-year-old son, in one way or another, “You can be whatever you want,  a doctor, a writer, a musician, but you have to always think like an entrepreneur, always look to solve a problem for others. Be an entrepreneurial thinker.”

Barry Moltz of Getting Small Businesses Unstuck and Shafran Moltz Group, LLC

Was your dad an entrepreneur??

No.

What business lessons did you learn from your father?

Do what you love.

Do you want your kids to be entrepreneurs?

Yes.

What’s your best business advice for your children? 

Who you are in business with is more important than what your business is.

 

Brian Moran of Small Business Edge

Was your dad an entrepreneur?

My dad was a small business owner. He worked at a New York City law firm for a number of years before starting his own law firm, which he had for over 40 years. He brought in several partners, a few associate attorneys and had two locations, one in NYC and one on Long Island. I think if he were an entrepreneur, he would have opened several more locations and hired dozens of attorneys.

Did that inspire you to become one?

He and my mother encouraged their seven children to do whatever made us happy. Ironically, we all became business owners. When I worked in corporate America, I debated leaving to start my own publishing company. I was hung up on “job security.” My parents said, “The only security you will ever need is between your ears.” Their support made my decision easier. Since 2002, I’ve had my own companies (with a short stint at The Wall Street Journal from 2010-2012).

What business lessons did you learn from your father?

My father was a man of character and integrity. From him, I learned the importance of hard work, being true to your word, and treating all people with respect and decency. He also reminded me to have fun. He led his whole life by example, which is the best possible lesson he could have ever taught me.

Do you want your kids to be entrepreneurs?

I want them to be happy in whatever profession or calling they choose.

What’s your best business advice for your children? 

Live a healthy life, stay out of debt (invest your money), educate yourself on important matters, be a person of character, and be grateful for every day, even the rainy ones.

Ramon Ray of SmartHustle.com and Oracle NetSuite

Was your dad an entrepreneur?

He was not. He was a minister, a Christian preacher. However, he definitely thought “out of the box” and was a maverick in his own right! 😀

Did that inspire you to become one?

Although my father didn’t inspire me to be an entrepreneur, I believe his charismatic approach to appreciating people and ability to communicate with people across all demographics must have been given to me, either genetically or by watching him.

What business lessons did you learn from your father?

He appreciated cultures and people. He could speak a bit of Spanish, a bit of an east Indian (India) dialect.

He was also a very organized and disciplined person. Mental discipline and the ability to press on are essential for succeeding as a business owner.

Do you want your kids to be entrepreneurs?

My daughter has expressed a desire NOT to own her own business. She’s a full-time teacher. However, ironically she started a side tutoring business and has a nice set of clients.

My son is a full-time business owner. He’s a life coach and has a diversified mix of one-to-one coaching clients, courses, and events.

What’s your best business advice for your children? 

Work hard. Be the best at something. Have a great attitude.

Owning a business is not for everyone, but everyone can learn to figure things out and always learn!

Adam Rizza of Sunscape Eyewear and BLNQ Eyewear

Was your dad an entrepreneur?

Yes, he was one of the first to leave Afghanistan and travel to Japan and China to import goods. It would take him six months to travel as he would stay with the production team at the factory and return with the inventory.

Did that inspire you to become one?

Yes, I have always wanted to have my own business. As a child, I used to paint curb numbers during the summer with my friends and sold that business when I was in 8th grade to some younger kids for $200.

What business lessons did you learn from your father?

He always said, “Buy right.” If you can buy a product at a competitive price and the demand is there, you will always make your margins. He also used to tell me, “Always sell a product with good intentions. Never sell something that would hurt someone or the environment.” When my brother and I owned cigar stores, he urged us to close them down. But he told us sunglasses were good products since you’re helping people look good, feel good, and protecting their eyes.

His best advice was always to be honest in business as your credit is all you have among your peers. He always said this to me, “A crooked load never arrives.”

Do you want your kids to be entrepreneurs?

In a way, yes. I want to partner with my 10-year-old son Noah and do something with him. He has all these ideas already. However, I tell him every day he has to get his degree first—and become a doctor.

What’s your best business advice for your children? 

Do it—it takes a lot of guts, but it’s worth it. And if you don’t have anxiety, you’re not doing it right.

Steve Strauss of MrAllBiz.com

Was your dad an entrepreneur?

Yes, my dad actually was the best entrepreneur I ever knew. He took a single carpet store with his partner and turned it into the largest chain in Southern California back in the day. He loved being an entrepreneur. In fact, one of the very first words he ever taught me was “entrepreneur”. This was back in the late 1960s when no one used that word.

Eventually, he sold out to his partner because the company had gotten so big that he’d become more of a manager than an entrepreneur. He started another business when he was 50-years-old so he could be an entrepreneur again.

Did that inspire you to become one?

100%. We used to talk about entrepreneurship around the dinner table. When I was at UCLA, I started my first “business”—I would buy these ugly sweatshirts (now, in retrospect) in Tijuana, bring them up to Venice Beach, and sell them. Even when I went to law school, the idea was that I would start my own law firm.

What business lessons did you learn from your father?

“An entrepreneur is a person who is willing to take a risk with money to make money,” he would say. Risk is part of the job description.

Do you want your kids to be entrepreneurs?

For sure. It sure beats having a boss!

What’s your best business advice for them?

Take your time. Go to college and get all the schooling you can. After that, work for a while. Learn about what you like and what you don’t like. Get some experience. Look to see what you would love to do every day.

Happy Father’s Days!

At its core, being a good entrepreneur is a lot like being a good dad. Just like your children, businesses need to be nurtured so they can thrive. And your job is to be a great role model—lead by example and show your team how devoted, passionate, and committed to them you are. Just like you do with your children.

Have a happy Father’s Day.