What Starting My Business Taught My Daughter About Entrepreneurship
Like mother like daughter, people always say. Only this time, it's not because of the green eyes we share or the shape of our smiles. It's because of something much more far-reaching.
After my divorce at 40, I faced challenges I hadn't had in quite a while, the most pressing of which was making ends meet each month while saving for my future. Don't get me wrong, the prospect of starting over was widely appealing to me. With the right opportunity, I could get my independence back and have something to put my all into that belonged only to me. Still, the question of what that opportunity would be continued to loom.
It wasn't long after, after heeding advice from a mentor, that I founded a client-based writing company that now provides me with a steady stream of income and helped make my dream of becoming a paid professional writer a reality. Owning a business was something I never thought would happen after graduating from law school and spending more than a decade as a homemaker. My venture has now opened doors to many opportunities I might not have had otherwise. It was my foray into entrepreneurship, and I'm happy to see my oldest child has been bitten by the bug as well.
My daughter, Maddy, is currently applying to college. While I was told as a young girl by my mother and stepfather that a professional degree would automatically land me a "good" job, she's growing up differently. I'm showing her there's another way, an alternative path to success, even at mid-life, and with a so-called practical education behind me.
My ex-husband and Maddy's father, Doug, is presently rounding out that lesson for her to learn: If you want it, you can have it, so long as you commit to working for it, and professional and personal development don't need to be standalone efforts. A Hong Kong and New York-based lawyer specializing in mergers and acquisitions and private equity, Doug co-founded and serves as chairman of Patron Mobile, a smartphone application that enables restaurant patrons to directly order and pay for food and beverages at bars, restaurants, stadiums, hotels and other hospitality venues without having to wait for a server.
Like us, our daughter has intense interests (hers is film), and I'm proud to say she already, at such a young age, has gone on to do great things with that passion. At 17, she's created a one-woman production house, taking on clients and building a repertoire of projects and experiences. In the fall, she'll attend the institution of her choice to study film and business. Our little girl has grown into an expert in her field, treating each assignment, project and endeavor with precision, care and perfectionism, just as we do. The three of us have taught each other you can learn while doing. That the love of your life doesn't need to be a person. It can be your career. It can be yourself. As I've discovered, this is a much more satisfying way to live.
The mother-daughter relationship can be complicated. Our ascent into entrepreneurial life has, however, brought us that much closer. Once bonding over what dress she'd wear to prom and which Sunday night TV shows we could watch together, we now sit at dinner and discuss the day ahead, how she'll light the scene for a commercial and how I'll grow my platform. My fear of what divorce and co-parenting with an ex who lives thousands of miles away would do to my child is nowhere in the eyes of the woman she's becoming. Or in mine.
Maddy's growing up during a different time than I did. There's more focus on what one loves to do as opposed to what one should be doing, and the inventive ways to turn those thoughts into actions. Even so, I'd like to think there's a little more to it than that. To be honest, maybe even a bit cocky, I believe becoming an entrepreneur is also in her genes. I'm pretty sure her dad would agree.