Entrepreneurship is Genetic – 3 Lessons in Business from Dad

While Father’s Day is always an opportunity to reflect about your relationship with your dad, a good question to ask yourself is… how has he influenced you?

Below is a little about my family life growing up with an entrepreneur in the 1970’s & 80’s.

We Pennella’s have never been good “cubicle dwellers” – sitting at a desk under florescent lights has just never been our thing. This harks back several generations, through at least my great grandfather who was a stonemason, to my grandfather, who after WWII, purchased a service station to make his living.

My father, Jack, in his late 20’s right after I was born, decided to launch his own endeavor, by creating an installation and repair service for all manner of optical equipment. Talk about a niche market. He had been working as what we would term today a “sales engineer” for an optical equipment manufacturer, and realized from listening to his customers that repair options on the equipment were difficult to arrange and schedule with the manufacturer. This was back in the early 1970’s when everything was done over the phone.

I was literally in diapers during the “start-up” years of my father’s company, however, the principle lessons of getting a business off the ground and running were ever present during our childhood.

1. Identify your opportunity niche in the marketplace

In my father’s case, it was an as-yet unidentified, but essential, level of customer service.

2. Leverage your network

My father had an almost immediate clientele based on the feedback he had received in his former role.

3. Technology can make your life easier

First it was the answering machine (it was the 70’s!), then the personal computer and eventually the cellphone, which saved countless hours of business operations.

Regardless of the decade, businesses are hard work, and it’s too easy to sacrifice your family life to keep it going. However, having a dad with schedule flexibility to be able to grab an occasional ice cream cone after school, or fit in all those orthodontist appointments I needed, more than made up for many of the 16 + hour days he put in.

After 30 years in the business, with my sister and I long gone from the household, my father decided it was time to move on. He sold his business and long-term client roster to someone eager to step in to continue to build upon the legacy.

What lesson have you learned from your dad?

3 thoughts on “Entrepreneurship is Genetic – 3 Lessons in Business from Dad

  1. Awesome tie-in with entrepreneurship and father’s day. Interestingly enough, my dad was an entrepreneur, however I was taught the “go to school, get a job” model. I broke free of that and own my own businesses, but it’s interesting how life unfolds sometimes! great post.

    • Thanks John! We grew up with a “invest in yourself and do what makes you happy (but don’t overlook paying the bills)” mentality. I think just the power of positive support during your childhood can propel you far.

  2. Pingback: Lessons for the entrepreneur | ARCHITAMENT

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