Were your Raised to be an Entrepreneur?

Free Daddy and His Little Shadow Girls at The Skate Park Creative Commons

I originally wrote this article for Biznik (a community for solopreneurs- check them out if you are a consultant or one man shop!) and wanted to share it with you. It was from the very beginning of August when my son had just turned one. Becoming a mother while owning and growing a business has added an interesting dynamic to my relationship with my mother and business parter. You can read the article over on Biznik, or scroll on for more… – Jenn, Ovaleye

My son turned one over the weekend and I have to admit I was incredibly sentimental the days leading up to his birthday thinking about how fast he has grown, my future as a mother, and how I should be raising my son while building a business.

My dreams for him don’t necessarily revolve around him one day being an entrepreneur or joining our family business. However, I would like him to hold some of the characteristics that an entrepreneur would need for success as he grows up: self-starter, problem solver, leader, passionate, and creative to name a few

As a twenty-six year old who partnered with my parents in building our company after college and who is now a mom myself, I am beginning to realize some of the parenting habits my parents consciously or unconsciously practiced in raising my brother and I that set me up for a life in business (whether I knew it or not at the time).

The following are six ways my parents positively influenced my growth as a business owner that you can build into your own style of parenting that will compliment your entrepreneurial lifestyle:

  1. Ask questions.
    This was something my dad still does today and it drives me crazy. Rather than providing me with a simple answer to my question he will always make me solve my problems for myself, whether I am in a time crunch or not, by answering my quesitons with a question of his own.
  2. Be positive.
    Two of my parents’ famous sayings around our house growing up were “Happy thoughts” and “Attitude is everything.” In fact, they were used so often, these statements have been incorporated in our company manifesto. Like the questions method above, when you were frustrated as a teenager and your parent replied back to you with “Happy thoughts” you can imagine how annoying that was. Now looking back, my parents helped in creating a healthy habit that now allows me to keep things in perspecitve when it comes to business.
  3. Get your kids involved in the fun and let them in on what is going on.
    My brother and I got to help decorate my parents’ record store, they asked for our input when it came to site design, and had us helping out with sales, inventory, and events when we were in middle school. Not because there was more work than could be handled, but because they knew we would enjoy it.This taught us to really appreciate the value of hard work when seeing first hand how effort translated into sales.
  4. Be hands off. 
    I coached a high school drill team my first two years on the side while we were building Ovaleye and saw first hand just how lucky I was growing up. My parents were very involved in our lives, but not to the point where they were keeping our schedule for us, making decisions, or getting us out of things. By taking a hands off approach to parenting they allowed us to own our choices. We thought more carefully about what types of consequences were associated with our actions and where to devote our energy to.
  5. Build a sense of support. 
    While my parents were hands off, when it came to our crazy ideas they were all hands on deck. When I wanted to start a play production group in middle school they lent out their house to fifteen kids after school. When I wanted to start a dance team at the high school my mom was the one who sat in on practices as the adult supervisor. When by brother started a band can you guess who was at all of his shows and proudly displayed his album cover art on their walls? Say yes to their requests, be a support system, but don’t take over the show. See where they go with it and cheer them on in the process.
  6. Paint it in a good light. 
    The last point is incredibly important in that this is what ultimately helped me make my decision in wanting to be a business owner. No matter what the good or the bad is in business, you should always reinforce that to you entrepreneurship is the American dream. It is the ultimate way to freedom. Be frank about the drawbacks, your past failures, and the work involved but always share why it is you are doing what you do. Be open about your passion, your bigger vision, dreams, and hope for the future and your kids will not only respect you more for it, but it will change their view on everything.

I am so thankful for my upbringing and feel incredibly lucky when I speak to other young women like myself for having such an incredible support system in my parents.

I’m reminded of Bethenny Frankel’s book a Place of Yes in her emphasis on “breaking the chain.” No matter what kind of background you came from you are always capable of stopping the pattern from repeating by making a concious decision to do something different this time.

Cheers to building businesses and raising children!

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