Like Father, Like Son?

Entrepreneurial history repeats itself.
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the May 1997 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

A recent study conducted by Ohio State University gives new meaning to the notion that parents set strong examples for their children. The survey, analyzed by economists Thomas A. Dunn and Douglas Holtz-Eakin at Syracuse University, reveals that parents' actions have a direct influence on their kids becoming entrepreneurs.

According to the findings, sons were nearly three times as likely to become self-employed if their fathers were self-employed; 32 percent of those with entrepreneurial fathers started a business, compared with only 12 percent of sons without self-employed fathers. Similarly, 24 percent of daughters with entrepreneurial mothers also donned entrepreneurial hats, while just 13 percent of daughters whose mothers weren't self-employed did so.

Some might say it's simply a case of children following in their parents' footsteps. However, the data found that among sons with entrepreneurial fathers, only 10 percent entered into a business in the same line of work--virtually identical to those sons whose fathers weren't self-employed.

Likewise, the study also suggests there's little truth to the idea that children of entrepreneurs start more businesses because they receive funding from their parents. What's more likely the case is the attitudes entrepreneurial parents impart, such as the value of being your own boss, or specific talents they pass on, such as management or interpersonal skills, are what lead their children into business. In other words, it's the "human capital," says Dunn, not the financial capital, that makes the difference.

Slice Of The Action

A pizza-ordering service grows byte by byte.

A scene from the movie "The Net" could end up changing the way pizza shops--and possibly other retail and service businesses--market their products. After entrepreneur Tim Glass watched the movie and saw Sandra Bullock order pizza via the Internet without ever leaving the comfort of her computer chair, he knew he had to get a piece of the pie.

"I was trying to come up with an everyday application for the Internet, and after I saw [that scene], I thought everyone could relate to that and it could make a really good business," says Glass, 38.

Glass' Seattle-based company, CyberSlice Inc., isn't fiction anymore. After researching the market, developing a software application and securing agreements with more than 1,000 pizzerias in several major markets, Glass launched the savory site ( in December. Pizza fans input their addresses to call up menus from restaurants in their areas. Once an order is placed, Glass' patented software translates it into a voice-mail message, rings up the pizzeria, relays the order and then returns an e-mail message confirming it.

Glass is the first to admit the idea is slightly ahead of its time. "We don't expect to see a tremendous flow of orders today or tomorrow," he says, "but what is important is that we know [Internet commerce] is going to be huge sometime in the future, so we got in early to gather merchants and build the company."

Read All About It

What are business owners reading these days? The top 10 business books at press time (based on net sales) were:

1. Ernst & Young Tax Guide 1997, $14.95 (John Wiley & Sons)

2. Wall Street Money Machine, by Wade Cook, $24.95 (United Support Association)

3. J.K. Lasser's Your Income Tax 1997, by The J.K. Lasser Institute, $14.95 (Macmillan)

4. Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Truth About Wealth in America, by Thomas J. Stanley and William Danko, $22 (Longstreet Press)

5. The Dilbert Principle, by Scott Adams, $20 (HarperBusiness)

6. Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook, by Scott Adams, $16 (HarperBusiness)

7. What Color Is Your Parachute 1996, by Richard Nelson Bolles, $14.95 (Ingram)

8. Personal Finance for Dummies, by Eric Tyson, $19.99 (IDG Books Worldwide)

9. Investing for Dummies, by Eric Tyson, $19.99 (IDG Books Worldwide)

10. Financial Peace, by David Ramsey, $21.95 (Viking)

Contact Sources

CyberSlice Inc., 300 Elliott Ave. W., #316, Seattle, WA 98119, (

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