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My father was a pretty typical first generation business owner.  He worked very hard, was a tough taskmaster both at work and at home and spoke his mind in a very forceful manner. 

Sometimes this manner was so overpowering that those around him wanted to hide.  At the same time his rants usually had more than a little bit of truth in them.

When I was younger I often thought my father was a bully and as a result did everything I could to avoid his advice.  As I got older, I realized that there were some very important lessons that I learned.  Now, as I’m getting to be almost 60 years old I’m realizing how lucky I am to have my father be my father.

Here are a few of the most important lessons I learned.

Always tell the truth.  White lies turn into bigger lies and even the white lies can get you into trouble.  I was taught this lesson in a most embarrassing way, but I can tell you that since then I’ve valued both truth in myself and others as a core value in my life.

Profit is always more important than new sales.  This rule is true most of the time.  If your company needs to build size before it works, you might have some period of time where profits don’t materialize.   I’ve learned that in most instances profits (meaning excess cash) are what you have to use as a major measurement in the success of your company.

Family is really important.  As both my father and I have aged we have come to realize that family is an incredibly important part of our lives.  Letting family events go for business reasons rarely makes any sense.  Even if your business is having a serious problem, it will most likely be there when your family event has ended.  At the same time, the family event won’t wait for your business problem to be resolved.

When you’ve made a mistake apologize and apologize sincerely.  We all make mistakes.  My father would make very public and large mistakes.  When this happened, no matter how embarrassing he would take responsibility for his actions and provide a heartfelt apology.

I think learning from elders is an important part of growing up.  When we’re younger we don’t want to listen and often don’t want to learn.  As we get older learning becomes easier and the lessons become more important.

I’m curious as to what lessons you’ve learned from your father.  Please send me an email at Jpatrick@stage2planning.com or click on this link to set up a time to talk.

Josh Patrick

I’ve put together a report on The 7 Myths of the Private Business Owner.  I encourage you to click on the button below to download the report.  If you’re an advisor to a private business, you can learn some land mines to avoid.  If you own a business, you will learn some of the misconceptions that your advisors may have about you and your business.


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Topics: mission vision values and goals, lessons learned, Elders role in business, Mission statement, estate planning

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