The week of November 16-22 has been designated, Global Entrepreneur Week. From the time I was about five-years-old, my father was an entrepreneur. I didn’t really know any other life. My great-grandfather, tracing back as far as I know how, was also an entrepreneur and well, you probably know I am one as well. It must run in the family.
My great-grandfather on my father’s maternal side, Fred Hendrix, started a lumber company business in Narrowsburg, NY, a small town located on the Delaware River. This lumber company became quite successful. My grandfather worked there, as did my father. At some point, early in his professional career, my father decided he didn’t want to be a part of a family business that was basically handed to him. He wanted to go into business for himself instead.
He began with Narrowsburg Kitchens, a kitchen design business. He would design and create beautiful, functional kitchens. His business was a success and then he lost interest. He closed the doors and began a business called Delaware Excavating. He liked moving dirt around and operating heavy equipment. After acquiring those skills, if seemed a natural fit to begin buying and developing properties into apartments and condos, so he began Tustin Development. There was nothing he couldn’t do—design, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, painting, trim. You name it and he could do it. After losing interest in that, he began to restore and sell older model Volkswagens. He got his real estate license and sold houses for a while and finally, he ended his working time restoring older model International Scouts.
I grew up knowing what it was like to have an entrepreneurial father. My mother kept me sheltered from the challenges of the work by refusing to discuss family finances with me. As the girl in the house, I often answered the phone since the calls were usually for me. But when they weren’t, they were typically creditors looking for my father. He often refused to take those calls after I had answered so I surmised money was short during those times. There were other times, though, when we were flush. I remember lavish parties and gifts during good times, but then there were some sparce times, too. Life was like a rollercoaster as a child of Carl Daub, Jr.’s, but the devastating effects were mitigated by a protective mother.
I didn’t go the immediate route of my father. In fact, I married a mechanic who worked in someone else’s garage and I took positions in the social service’s field, where I stayed for 22 years. About ten years into our marriage, my husband decided to try his hand at entrepreneurialism. He was a fantastic mechanic with a charismatic personality and many loyal customers. His challenges came around billing. Paperwork was his least favorite thing to do, which would result in some of his customers never getting a bill for services, others would receive them months late and some just never paid and my husband wouldn’t follow up.
And don’t think I have escaped the feast or famine challenges of being an entrepreneur. There was one winter during the recession in 2009 that I had to collect unemployment because there was no work and no money to pay my salary with. There were other years when I was so busy but couldn’t turn work down. I never knew when the lulls would come so there were times I functioned on very little sleep just to complete all that had to be done in a day.
I tell you these stories to build my case for how being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. It is the rare individual who has all the necessary skills to become successful. Most entrepreneurs I know do it for the love of freedom. Let’s look at the strengths, qualities and behaviors of entrepreneurs.
- They are fiercely independent and want to do things their own way.
- They often want to make a difference and have an impact in their field.
- They are good at building relationships—both with customers and business contacts for networking.
- They don’t have a high need for security so they can tolerate the unpredictable financial ups and downs.
- They often bring a high level of creativity to their work.
- They work hard and don’t know the meaning of a 9 to 5.
- They know to hire people to do the things they don’t know how to do and don’t want to learn.
- They work to stay on the cutting edge of their field. They stay relevant.
- If they don’t start out this way, they become good at setting boundaries.
- They know their value and worth and their prices reflect that.
- They are flexible and can think and move quickly on their feet.
- They have the courage to get through the tough times.
BONUS: Every successful entrepreneur I know, manages to prioritize self-care. The stresses of running
one’s own business are enormous so good self-care is essential.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for the weak or faint of heart. They certainly deserve a week to celebrate their ingenuity and stick-to-itiveness. November 17, was officially National Entrepreneurs’ Day. If you are grateful to an entrepreneur, why not tag them here and list their business here? They deserve our gratitude for serving us in their field.