Business lessons you can learn from your father

Growth and strategy

12 June 2018

Raising a child is a bit like running a startup – there's a reason so many founders refer to their business as their 'baby'.

From taking the business from its first baby steps then watching it grow and mature, there are a few good lessons dads can teach us about running a business.

So sit down and take a lesson from the old man – here’s four business lessons you can learn from your father.

Be quick to praise and careful to criticise

Studies show that positive encouragement works better than criticism in motivating staff and service providers, but your dad probably could have told you that one. Children are always pushing boundaries and testing the world around them, which can be frustrating. However, shouting just upsets them, while positive reinforcement makes them feel good.

It's the same for employees in a small business – giving positive feedback encourages a sense of accomplishment and motivation, makes for a happier team and encourages good staff to stay with your business rather than flying the nest.

Don't burn yourself out on perfection

Raising a child is a whirlwind – there simply aren't enough hours in the day to do everything perfectly. Running a small business is the same. It can be humbling to learn that you can't get everything 100% right all the time, but when you decide to strive for greatness instead of perfection it makes a huge shift in how you approach your business. Focus on what's most important, strip away the things that aren't and understand your own limitations.

Curate your 'village'

The old saying goes 'it takes a village to raise a child', but good dads know that it's important to make sure the right people are in that village. After all, they're the ones who are going to be influencing their child. The same principle goes for your small business. Take care while you're expanding your team, and be careful when bringing investors on board. You want to make sure everyone wants what's best for your business, and will help to nurture it.

Don't cry over spilt milk

Most dads have used this phrase at least once, and it's wisdom worth remembering. Mistakes happen – the important thing is to learn from them and move on.

It's worth following Google's example. The search giant rewards staff for failure – as long as those mistakes are constructive and help them to learn. And while you do your best to get everything right, we all get it wrong from time to time, so having professional indemnity insurance can help to cushion the blow, too.

To celebrate fathers, we’re looking at businesses where fathers have inspired sons and daughters to take on the family business. Take a look at our Small Business Story series where we speak to Chris Stephens of W Stephens & Sons about what he learned from his father and his hopes for his own son in the future.