Note: This article was originally published on the Conversational blog.
Did you know that 48% of entrepreneurs grew up in a family business? While a little more than half of all entrepreneurs come from a background with zero entrepreneur experience, many people that start their own business grew up seeing their family run a business of their own.
48% of Entrepreneurs Grew Up in a Family Business
Sometimes entrepreneurs wonder why more people don't make the choice to escape the 9 -5 and start their own business. It seems like a natural pursuit for those who feel drawn to it - there's more freedom, more income potential, and it enables you to build the life you want.
Some entrepreneurs know this because they've seen it first-hand - in family-run businesses they grew up watching their parents or family members run. In a study by OnStartups, they found that 48.1% of entrepreneurs said they grew up in a family business. That's what researchers call "statistically significant," meaning it points to a real pattern that deserves more attention.
If almost half of entrepreneurs grew up in a family business, it begs the question: Does entrepreneurship begat entrepreneurship?
Does entrepreneurship begat entrepreneurship?
If growing up in a family business actually "caused" entrepreneurship, every child that lived that scenario would become an entrepreneur as an adult. As the statisic above shows, that's not the case.
What we can see from that statistic is that being exposed to the notion and reality of entrepreneurship from an early age seems to be a factor in what makes some people choose to become entrepreneurs, but it isn't a requirement. Some people choose to become entrepreneurs because they are actively seeking something they believe that lifestyle will provide.
Some become entrepreneurs because they've seen family members do so successfully. Some don't so much choose entrepreneurship as it "chooses" them - a serendipitious idea or transition from freelance to a successful business.
To answer the question, entrepreneurship does not necessarily begat entrepreneurship, but it certainly makes it more likely. In the same way that having a parent who graduated college makes you more likely to graduate college, having a parent or close family member who was an entrepreneur makes you more likely to pursue that path yourself.
What you learn from a family business
When to speak up. You learn when to speak up when you grow up in a family business - if you don't, you'll never be heard among the chaos!
The value of freedom. You learn how much it means for your parents, aunt and uncle, grandparents, etc. to set their own schedule and hours from an early age. You see how much they value their freedom to make those decisions.
Dealing with consequences. Inevitably in a family business, you'll witness someone make a mistake. Many times, that person will be you. You'll learn how to deal with the consequences or you'll watch someone else deal with them. Either way, you'll learn a lesson.
Interacting with customers. You've seen your parents smile at a customer who was so angry, their eyes were bulging out of their sockets. You've seen them send flowers to a loyal client when they lost a loved one. You've seen them open up early or stay open late to accommodate a regular who couldn't get there during store hours. The family business taught you about customer service without you realizing it.
Managing the backend. The paperwork, finances, what my parents referred to as the "nitty gritty" - that stuff is a gold mine for a young future entrepreneur. It's boring, it's tedious, it's hard work, and it teaches some valuable lessons. Success isn't all fun stuff and customers. It's numbers, strategies, deadlines, and frustrations, too.