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30 Entrepreneurs Share The Best Advice Dad Ever Gave Them

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 by

Happy Father's Day

What Lessons From Dad Made You a Better Entrepreneur?

At HostGator, we help millions of entrepreneurs and small business owners realize their dreams by building their websites. But your website represents much more than just your business. It’s a complex organism you’ve designed based on your thought leadership, your product, your industry, and more.

We recognize that we’re not the only ones who help you build your business – your staff, customers, family, and friends all contribute to your success. For many of us, our parents have also made an impact on our business, whether they helped us think up the name, gave us a great idea for a customer loyalty program, or coached us throughout our career. Our parents teach us, mold us, and help us become who we are, and their lessons extend from childhood well into our professional lives.

This Father’s Day, we wanted to hear from you how your dad helped you become a better entrepreneur. Your stories were funny, endearing, and downright inspiring. Here are our favorites.

1. Success comes with hard work, and lots of it.

“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

There are three 8-hr shifts in each day. Pick 2 you want to work & you'll succeed. #DadAdvice Click To Tweet

2. If you want hard workers on your staff, you must set the example.

“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

Want your staff to be hard workers? Be the example. #DadAdvice #Entrepreneur Click To Tweet

3. Each obstacle you overcome makes 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

Each obstacle you overcome makes you stronger. #DadAdvice #FathersDay Click To Tweet

4. Don’t just find problems; solve them.

“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

The world is full of problem identifiers. Be a problem solver. #DadAdvice #startup Click To Tweet

5. Treat all people with kindness and respect.

“The best advice from my dad I learned from his example, nothing he ever said expressly.

What I learned from my dad is to treat everyone, regardless of their ‘station,’ with complete respect and kindness. My dad was every bit as nice to the bus person in a restaurant as he was to the owner. He was as kind to the janitor of Mack Trucks as to the VP. And even today, my dad is every bit as respectful to the aides in his senior home as he is to the partners.

This has served me well in my business—and also in my entire life. And I’m proud to say I model the same for my children. Without me ever telling them to, my 10 and 9-year old boys often address strangers as sir and miss. I’m very proud.” – Jennifer Bright Reich, co-founder of The Mommy MD Guides

Be as kind to the janitor as you are to the vice president. #DadAdvice #leadership Click To Tweet

6. Don’t let your gender get in your way.

“My father didn’t have any sons, just two girls. So, by the time I came around, he made sure to not raise me like the traditional girl. He always encouraged my interest in math and always instilled the principle, ‘There’s nothing a boy can do that you cannot do just as good, if not better.’

I’ve always lived my professional life not thinking I was at a disadvantage, and as such, not only rose up the ranks in a male-dominated sport (NASCAR) but in my entrepreneurial life in starting a food manufacturing business as well.” – Julie Busha, CEO of Slawsa

There’s nothing a boy can do that you cannot do just as good, if not better. #DadAdvice #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

7. Don’t underestimate the power of 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

Don't underestimate the power of a good firm handshake. #DadAdvice #leadership Click To Tweet

8. Never stop learning.

“What I learned from my dad that made me a better entrepreneur was his example of always trying to learn more.

It didn’t matter if it was in a formal setting or not, he was always trying to learn more, learn faster, and learn as broadly as possible.

This was a great influence growing up, and helped me put ongoing time into learning, even after finishing school, which has helped me uncover all sorts of opportunities hidden in plain sight that others have missed.” – John Turner, founder and CEO of QuietKit

Never stop learning. #DadAdvice #smallbiz #startup #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

9. Patience will serve you well.

“I started a company, probably similar to many of the entrepreneurs out there – young, raw, not realizing what it really takes about the ups, the downs and the really downs.

The most important lesson my Dad instilled in me is patience. I’m patient in all my dealings with clients, employees, high stress scenarios, and it has helped me evaluate the situation at hand with less pressure. I’ve earned some grey hair along the way and realize that life and business decisions don’t have to be made in an instant – not every scenario is like Shark Tank.” – Rahul Alim, owner of Custom Creatives

Running a #startup or #smallbiz? Patience will serve you well. #DadAdvice Click To Tweet

10. The easiest way to calm your fears? Just get started.

“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

One bulletproof way of conquering your fear of failure is to simply get started. #DadAdvice Click To Tweet

11. Sometimes you need to know when to give up.

“My dad gave me an interesting twist on a common piece of advice. Back then the mantra was ‘Work hard and never give up.’ But the message I got was slightly different, and it has helped me time and time again during my career as an entrepreneur (with over 5 business currently in operation).

He said, ‘Work hard and know when to give up.’ Not every business can be forced to succeed through brute force effort on your part. In many cases, it is a far better use of your time, skills and energy to throw in the towel and start again. This doesn’t mean you can give up at the first sign of difficulty, but it means that, like banging your head on a brick wall, it can feel great when you stop and try something different.” – David Mercer, tech entrepreneur, author, and founder of SME Pals

Word hard and know when to give up. #DadAdvice #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

12. Research, research, research.

“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

A bit of preliminary research will save you the headache. #DadAdvice #entrepreneur #startup Click To Tweet

13. 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

Your relationship with your customer is more important than the money. #DadAdvice #SmallBiz Click To Tweet

14. Make time for your kids.

“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

Make time for your kids. #DadAdvice #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

15. Believe in yourself and your people.

“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

Believe in yourself and your people. #DadAdvice #smallbiz #entrepreneur #startup #leadership Click To Tweet

16. Focus on doing the key things right, not on doing everything right.

“My father’s best advice on business helps with framing state of mind and expectations.

There are three aspects of a product or service that you will always want: high quality, high quantity, and short time. You can only ever achieve two, so pick which two you need. Anyone who says otherwise or demands that of you has no idea how business works.” – Tess Suchoff, Head of Marketplace for Apptopia

Quality, quantity, and fast. Your #smallbiz can only ever achieve 2 , so pick wisely. #DadAdvice Click To Tweet

17. Embrace process.

“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

Embrace process, and you'll get a solid brand with consistently happy customers. #DadAdvice #smallbiz Click To Tweet

18. Take things 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

Outline smaller goals that will keep you on the path towards your larger goal. #DadAdvice Click To Tweet

19. 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

Work smarter, not harder. #DadAdvice #entrepreneur #leadership #smallbiz Click To Tweet

20. Celebrate 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

Be self-reliant. Find a way to get the job done, even if it's without a helping hand. #DadAdvice Click To Tweet

21. Understand supply and demand.

“I was 9 or 10 at the time, on a hot summer day in Miami. I just got back home from school with a box full of WarHeads sour candy.

These candies were very popular with the kids at my school, we liked to test each other to see how many War Heads we could eat. So I got a bag of 50 for 4 bucks from a local candy shop, I was going to train myself to eat more than any other kid.

My dad walked in and asked me what I was doing? I told him the story and he explained what ‘demand’ was and that I found a ‘demand’ for something I have, the warheads.

The next day I was selling warheads for 20 cents a pop (almost double my investment). He taught me supply and demand, the willingness to act on opportunities and proof of concept.” – Ike Paz, content marketer and creator of Internet Marketing Gym

Understand supply and demand. #DadAdvice #smallbiz #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

22. Keep your overhead low.

“One thing my dad has preached as a lifelong entrepreneur is the importance of keeping all overhead low. My father still runs a successful general contracting electrical business without an actual office. He has always told me that having an office just for you to say that you have one is stupid. Today, I run my own pr and marketing firm as a virtual business. When I need one, I have access to an office or meeting space for a no cost if I need one through relationships I have established in my business community.

When people ask me if I have an office – do you know what I say? ‘I could have an office, but I would need to charge you more.’ Once they learn that my low overhead business model allows me to pass on the savings to them in the form of providing them very affordable marketing services they tend let go of any preconceived notions about virtual businesses. Occasionally I get a scoff or two at networking events when corporate CEOs I meet find out I don’t have an actual office — but I pay them any mind since they are not responsible for paying my bills. I prefer to bring value to small business owners who want me to help them grow their businesses which is much more rewarding.” – Shakira M. Brown, award-winning marketing expert and CEO of SMB Strategic Media LLC

Building out your business? Keep your overhead low. #DadAdvice #entrepreneur #startup Click To Tweet

23. Invest in what’s important.

“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

Develop your savings and invest in what's important. #DadAdvice #entrepreneur #smallbiz Click To Tweet

24. Anticipate problems before they happen.

“When I asked him for the ONE thing that made him the success he was, my father said, ‘It’s my ability to anticipate a problem long before it happens and act to avoid it.’ My brother and I embarked on a 10 year plan to position the family business to be sold. Five years later, I started getting audited financial statements, even though my accountant said it was an unnecessary expense. When the time came, the buyers wanted to see 5 years worth of audited statements to value the company. Without them, the valuation would have been less than half. Thanks, Dad.” – Richard Hayman, CEO of Hayman Consulting Group

Anticipate problems before they happen, and take action to avoid them. #DadAdvice #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

25. If it seems too good to be true, it probably 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

Business owners, beware: if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. #DadAdvice #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

26. Operate with integrity.

“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

Operate with integrity. It'll pay off in customer loyalty and referrals. #DadAdvice #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

27. Never take no for an answer.

“My dad was such an inspiration for me to become an entrepreneur. When I started my journey as a business owner he really taught me some valuable lessons that I know made me a better entrepreneur. The one that stands out to me the most is to never take no for an answer. My dad is a resilient person and it was etched in me to be the same. I knew that hearing ’no’ while building a business was just bound to happen. When it did, I didn’t let it bring me down but only encourage me to move on and make it happen regardless of others. That is something I know I would not have been prepared to do had it not been for my father.” – Nellie Akalp, serial entrepreneur and CEO of CorpNet.com

Never take no for an answer. #DadAdvice #entrepreneur #smallbiz Click To Tweet

28. Don’t get distracted by what’s out of your control.

“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

Stay focused. Don't get distracted by what's out of your control. #DadAdvice #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

29. Rejection: you’ll experience a lot of it.

“My dad taught me never to fear rejection.

Growing up, I learned that the worse thing that could happen by asking for something is that someone could say no to you. On the contrary, if you never asked, you could always regret that moment, which is much worse.

Any entrepreneur will experience a lot of rejection through their journey. The advice not to fear rejection but embrace it has allowed for me to grow my company and succeed as a businessman.” – Jason Parks, owner of The Media Captain

Embrace rejection, as you'll experience a lot of it on your #entrepreneur journey. #DadAdvice Click To Tweet

This Father’s Day, we invite you to reflect on lessons your dad taught you. Please share them in the comments, or let us know your favorite of the ones featured here!

Happy Father’s Day!

Amelia is the Content Marketing Manager for HostGator. Her areas of expertise include content development and strategy, SEO, and online reputation management. When she’s not helping solopreneurs or SMB owners with their online marketing needs, you can usually find her running around Austin, TX with her dog or blogging about Disneyland.
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