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18 Entrepreneurs Share Great Advice From Their Fathers

In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, we’d like to share some great fatherly advice that helped to shape a few of today’s entrepreneurs.


1. There’s no reason to worry about it because you can’t do anything about it!

“One of the biggest lessons my dad has taught me about running a small business is from a metaphor he often uses:

Think of your dream/goal as a three ring target. The inner circle (the bulls eye) is your goal; you are the only one that can affect that. The second outer circle is the area that you can affect with others, but you can’t do it alone. Either you may need help or you may need to help others. Then there is the third ring. In this ring, you can’t do jack about. Whether it’s opinions of others, the weather, whatever… there’s no reason to worry about it because you can’t do anything about it! If you spend time in the third ring, you won’t get much done. So, spend 80% of the time in the center circle and 20% in the second circle. The inner circle will take you to where you want to go, the 20% is to better the community around you to help those that need the support you got. Always give back.”

– Alyson Swihart, soap brewmaster at Handbrewed Soaps


2. I feel good about myself and knowing I do things the right way.

“My dad is a real estate agent and house flipper, who is retired now. He taught me many things, but here was his most important advice, or at least what I remember the most from how he conducted business. My father always operated with the utmost integrity and never sacrificed his clients needs for a quick buck. While he made less money in the short term on some deals, he made much more in the long run thanks to customer loyalty and referrals. I see this strategy helping my business all the time:

Previous clients come back over and over
Other professionals refer people to me
Other professionals prefer to do business with me over others, who do not have as good of a reputation.
I feel good about myself and knowing I do things the right way.”

– Mark Ferguson, realtor, real estate investor, author and creator of Investfourmore.com


3. If it seems too good to be true, it is.

“I’ve literally ran both of my businesses with the advice from my father close to front of mind every single day and it has really never let me down. The advice was, ‘If it seems too good to be true….it is.’

This advice has ensured that I look over every single offer, contract or information that comes my way. And as advised if anything seemed to be a miracle, it had strings attached. Knowing to be aware has saved me time, money and heartache.”

– Sarah Hadgkiss, owner of Tea With Me and Hello Brows


4. Use that money for something necessary.

“As soon as my friends turned 16, most of them had already started to take driving lessons and were considering buying a car. I’d always dreamt of having the freedom of being able to drive wherever I wanted, but I knew that I’d have to dig deep into my savings to afford the lessons and car. My dad sat me down one evening and gave me a stern talk about how a car wasn’t necessary and I could use that money for something else. Reluctantly, I opted not to buy a car and instead bought a bus pass. I used my savings to start my company instead, which has grown tremendously ever since. Now I don’t just have one car, I’ve got a couple of vans and lorries too!”

– Sam Williamson, owner of Guardian Removals Edinburgh


5. A belief in self-reliance.

“The best piece of motivational advice I ever received was from my father. He spoke to me about expectations placed on others. If you don’t have any expectations for others, you can never be disappointed. This might sound grim or sad, but at the core of it is a belief in self-reliance. It taught me the importance on getting the job done without a helping hand. It also taught me to appreciate the people who actually come through for you.”

– Sebastien Dupéré, president and CEO of Dupray


6. Work smarter, not harder.

“My dad worked with his hands and took pleasure in building things that our household budget could not afford. Examples would be preparing the ground and planting a garden each year; framing the forms, mixing and laying concrete for our 40-foot driveway; and installing electrical wiring in his house. Through it all, he always told me to ‘work smarter, not harder.’

Much later when my wife and I thought up our business, we had to pretty much make everything up and do a lot of “flying by the seat of our pants” to make things work and to improve the way we did things, from manufacturing to packaging to maintaining customer service to hiring out services we could not do or could not do fast enough. We have made thousands of people happy since we started back in 1992.”

– J.S. Fletcher, author and co-founder of YourNovel.com


7. Just take it one step at a time.

“My brother and I are co-founders of the leather goods company, American Bench Craft, based out of Boston, MA. Our father has been a huge inspiration throughout our lives and especially when we started our company.

Our father used to always say, ‘You can do anything you put your mind to, just take it one step at a time.’ Starting out, we obviously had our long term far reaching goals, but more importantly we set hundreds of small short term goals. Our first goal was simply to make our first sale. We didn’t start out trying to figure out how we would make our first million. Rather we took it one step of the time, and achieved smaller goals that encouraged us to keep working towards our larger goals.”

– Jason Angelini, co-founder of American Bench Craft


8. The value in having procedures to follow.

“My dad was a commercial airline pilot and the airlines had extensive manuals with procedures for every possible situation that may arise. I remember my dad studying these manuals especially around the time when he was required to go on a check flight where he went in the simulator. I think they did that every six months or so.

I didn’t realize it while I was growing up, but now that I’m a business owner I see the value in having procedures for employees to follow. For our business, a blog writing service, we have procedures for the team members to follow if certain situations come up. For example, if we upload and schedule a post for a client in WordPress we have a procedure for the writer to follow.

The main takeaway from that is just how prepared pilots are for just about any situation that comes up in a plane. It helps them to remain calm and to resolve the situation. That is important for just about any business. There will always be issues that come up and you don’t want to overreact. You want to remain calm and move forward with a solution.”

– Dayne Shuda, founder of Ghost Blog Writers


9. Defend what I have built because it’s precious.

“My dad and I started Tres Belle Spa in 2004. We have gone on to be multi-award winning.

My father believing in me gave me the courage and confidence to KNOW that our business would be a success. Phrases like ‘I know you can do this’ might seem cliche but they work. Hearing this in my head all these years has kept me moving forward. It’s okay to be scared sometimes but as an entrepreneur, you need to believe in yourself. It’s not a career for the faint of heart. People will try to ‘one up’ you and tell you what you’re doing wrong but you hear dad’s voice and you keep moving ahead.

My father taught me to be a fair employer. In a world of constant staff turn-over, I have had very little. I have been taught to give fair pay and to be available to my staff when they need me. I will stand up for my staff if there’s an ‘issue’ because I am their work mother and I created a space for them to shine. I have been taught to defend what I have built because it’s precious.”

– Allison Tray, co-founder of Tres Belle Spa


10. Be a part of your child’s life.

“My Dad worked a labor job at a milk processing plant for a solid 30 years. I played high school and college sports, and he never missed a single game in high school. I was able to work at the dairy in my summers of college and saw how hard he worked and it motivated me for a couple of reasons. It taught me how important it was to be a part of your child’s life. He may have been in to work at 6 am, but he made every single one of my 4 pm baseball games. As an entrepreneur, I’ve made it a priority to leave the office to see a concert at the elementary school and other important moments in the lives of my children. Even if I have to be back on the computer after they go to bed, my father taught me priorities.”

– Bill Fish, founder and president of ReputationManagement.com


11. The relationship with the customer is more important than the money.

“The best lesson that my father taught me is that the relationship with the customer is more important than the money. Meaning sometimes you have to make an investment or sacrifice to make sure that the customer is happy and it will pay off in the long run.”

– Rachel Charlupski, founder of The Babysitting Company


12. You have great research skills. Go do research. Read. You’ll figure it out.

“My father said a number of things that helped me as an entrepreneur. He also served as one of my earliest business advisors: I often used him as a sounding board to talk out issues I was encountering or fears I was facing. However, one that has truly resonated throughout all areas of my life, including my life as an entrepreneur, is the focus on continuing education. Dad did not just say ‘always continue learning,’ he embraced it. He went back to school when I was four and would take me to the (boring) college library with me. He would read books, magazines and newspapers and discuss them with me. When I said I didn’t know something, he would sometimes give me the answer but other times he would tell me to look it up in the encyclopedia. (I’m dating myself here!)

When I was older and graduated from college, he told me to begin investing. When I told him I didn’t know what to do, he said, “You have great research skills. Go do research. Read. You’ll figure it out.” The one time I got a little arrogant thinking I knew all there was about my business area, I encountered multiple issues that I later realized I would have avoided if I’d attended trade events and learned from other owners’ experiences. (I eventually did this but would’ve said myself some angst by doing it sooner!)”

– Tiffany Wright, serial entrepreneur and author of The Resourceful CEO


13. Your eyes scare you, but your hands give you joy.

“One piece of advice from my grandfather: ‘Your eyes scare you, but your hands give you joy.’

This helps me every time I feel insecure about trying something new. It reminds me that if I start working towards my goal, most of the fears and obstacles I see in the beginning of a project will simply disappear. In other words, one bulletproof way of conquering your fear of failure is to simply start working on your project.”

– Florin Bechis, founder of Rethink Home


14. A good firm handshake.

“My Dad was a career Naval officer who demonstrated a gentle and fair leadership style based upon egalitarian standards. When I moved to St Petersburg almost 12 years ago I launched an etiquette business: Protocol by Priscilla. My Dad taught me a good firm handshake when I was a little girl; and this is now the basis of my business!

The skills I learned from my Dad help me all the time with poise and confidence to represent myself as an etiquette expert.”

– Priscilla Murtha, founder of Protocol by Priscilla


15. The world is full of problem identifiers. Be a problem solver.

“My father is an engineer and had a saying I heard daily as a child. Absorbing and implementing it has had huge ramifications in my life as a successful entrepreneur:

The world is full of problem identifiers. Be a problem solver. When I had trouble changing my name after getting married, I identified a problem that 2.3 million women face annually. By solving that problem with an online service that condenses 13 hours of paperwork hassle into 30 minutes for $30, I launched a successful company that has grown to 300,000 customers in 2 countries. I can thank my dad for planting the seed of entrepreneurship daily for my success.”

– Danielle Tate, founder and CEO of MissNowMrs.com


16. Focus on the things you learned that made you stronger.

“I keep a letter on my desk that my dad sent me on Valentine’s Day 2014. It’s two pages of encouragement and love but the part that sticks with me the most is this:

I know that you will often have sleepless nights but rather than dwell on the ‘what, why, and how come’, focus on the things you learned that made you stronger. Take the learning with you and forge it into a lesson that can become a part of your work. It’s just as important to offer advice to yourself as you always offer it to others around you. I have learned so much from my dad. The greatest gift he has given me though, is unconditional love. With that I can move mountains.”

– Val Geisler, digital strategist


17. The only way someone can be hardworking is if they have the example of hard work.

“My dad is the hardest-working guy I know. When I was younger, he left a good job in the HVAC industry to start his own business building houses in Regina, Saskatchewan, because he felt the physical work and demanding schedule was more rewarding. He never told my brother and I to be hardworking; he always said that the only way someone can be hardworking is if they have the example of hard work, and he definitely provided that. I have memories of him coming home at night with icicles still clinging to his beard after a day of building houses. His work ethic continues to inspire me to be an example for my employees (though I do so in a temperature-controlled office).”

– Luke Knowles, co-founder of Kinoli Inc. and Coupon Sherpa


18. The one who works the hardest will always come out on top.

“Best lesson I ever learned from my dad was work ethic. Being an successful entrepreneur himself, he taught me that it doesn’t take the smartest individual to make a difference but the one who works the hardest will always come out on top. He used to say, ‘There are three 8-hour work days in one 24 hour day. Pick which two you want to work and you will be successful.’”

– Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal


This blog post is a snippet of an article posted by one of our Internet partners:
30 Entrepreneurs Share The Best Advice Dad Ever Gave Them


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