Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dad: An Entrepreneur's Secret to Success

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In honor of Father's Day, notable entrepreneurs share memories of their fathers that have helped shape their careers

Entrepreneurs often get a helping hand from their parents. In honor of Father's Day, we asked successful business owners how their fathers helped them succeed in business. The responses contain nuggets of wisdom any entrepreneur can learn from.
Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne's, inherited an ethic of hard work and risk-taking by watching her dad bring up eight kids on the family farm. Black Enterprise founder Earl Graves learned to dress sharply to win respect in the business world. And Travelocity CEO Michelle Peluso's father taught her that building a lasting enterprise is more important than turning a quick profit.

Guiding without meddling

Jim Koch, founder and chairman of Samuel Adams, built a craft beer empire on the family lager recipe his father retrieved from his dusty attic. Koch's father supported his son's venture although he thought it was foolish for him to leave a corporate career (BusinessWeek, 3/15/07) and try to break into a beer industry dominated by mass-market brewers. The elder Koch had abandoned brewing three decades earlier and believed his son's business degree and lucrative consulting job would provide a better life than making beer.
"My father was very proud of that and thought that getting back into small-scale brewing was just really stupid," Koch says. But the family recipe became a hit. Now Koch's father sits on the board of the $341 million Boston Beer Co. (SAM).
A dad's entrepreneurial spirit can rub off on children as well. Ivanka Trump still has a hand in the family real estate empire, but last year she launched her own jewelry line and retail store. Her magnate dad guided her without getting in the way. "My father allowed me to learn by doing while always watching and making himself available should I need advice or counsel," says Trump.
Of course, most entrepreneurs learned lessons from Mom as well, and we paid tribute to the mothers behind successful companies (, 5/8/08) last month. To celebrate the fathers who helped entrepreneurs get ahead, take a look at the lessons they handed down to their children.


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