This past week I was hosting a small business Twitter chat for Dex Digital. As with all of the work I do for Dex Digital the goal was to bring expert advice to small business owners and entrepreneurs with the goal of helping them learn tips and tricks to maximize their small business success and to help them learn how to “get found and be chosen.”
During this particular Twitter chat we had a number of the experts who will be participating as presenters for the upcoming Findable Business Summit. I posed a series of questions for the experts about the advice small business owners are seeking from them and the tips they typically like to share. Then I asked what the best advice they had ever received was and from whom they received it. In no time at all Melinda Emerson, also known as @SmallBizLady who is listed as Forbes #1 Influential Woman for Entrepreneurs and Steve Strauss, @SteveStrauss, Senior USAToday small biz columnist and best selling small biz author were going back and forth about how their fathers were the role models for them and the advisors or teachers who set them on the path to small business success.
Their fathers had modeled dignity, hard work, persistence, honesty. They had seen from their fathers what it meant to be a small business owner and they internalized that message and have carried it forward. To see the tweets search #dexdigital on Twitter.
Now, for those of you who have ever moderated or participated in a Twitter chat you know that they are very fast moving and you can never tell what direction they may take off in. Here we were just days away from the United States nationwide celebration of dads and hailing the path many have blazed for us.
As I reflect on my own family I understand why being a small business owner was the only path for me. My father started his small business when I was just 6 months old. He still runs it today. My grandfather pieced together whatever he could to be able to bring my grandmother home to Philadelphia from their young married life in New York. He took to the road as a door to door salesman and lived the life of an entrepreneur. My great-grandfather owned a grocery store and when he died suddenly from an appendicitis attack my great-grandmother with the help of my grandmother and her siblings kept the store going as long as they could. My other great-grandfather owned a bakery.
I was raised on stories of entrepreneurship. Stories of surviving the recession. Of my great-grandfather paying back every loan he had to take to save the bakery even though many were very late in their repayment. He believed that no matter how long it took you pay back every penny you owe.
My great-grandmother picked up the reigns. Yes, she had 4 children of her own and her 2 nieces she was now raising alone after her husband’s death but that’s what you do when you own a business. You find the strength to push forward and you get creative if you have to.
My father taught me customer service and the art of sales. If you asked my father how he sells I don’t think he’d be able to tell you but as a child growing up I realized that there was not a person alive that my father did not “know.” He could talk to and listen to anyone. His big smile and genuine warmth just pulled people in and they felt comfortable and safe doing business with him.
As I began to build my own small business I did not consciously sit down and think about how my ancestors had trained me for this endeavor but as I reflect now I can see pieces of what they taught me as I too built a business in tough economic times, through loss and through the art of relationships.
Who have been the mentors in your business life? Do you also come from a line of small business owners or are you the first entrepreneur in your family line?
I invite you to participate in the Findable Business Summit. It never hurts to have another share small business successes and failures to help you on your path.
Happy Father’s Day Daddy, Zaidy, great-Grandpa’s. Thank you for passing down the entrepreneurial legacy. I hope to make you proud.