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Are Young Treps Nurtured or Born? Palo Alto Software founder Tim Berry talks about his family of entrepreneurs and asks the question: Can young entrepreneurs be cultivated?

By Diana Ransom

We already know entrepreneurship tends to run in the family. Perhaps the thrill of starting up and running a company washes off on Junior. Or kids help out running the business from time to time and think they can do it too.

Then there are also more overt ways to compel kids into entrepreneurship. You can pass on the reins to a family business or you might offer to bankroll a child's entrepreneurial ambitions. But short of setting them up for success, the question is can you cultivate entrepreneurial children?

In honor of Father's Day, Entrepreneur.com columnist and Palo Alto Software founder Tim Berry tackled this question in writing about how his own family has -- albeit accidentally -- become something of an entrepreneurial test kitchen. One of Berry's five children runs the software business he founded in Oregon and three others have their own startups, one in Oregon and two in New York.

Though unplanned, Berry attributes two important factors to the creation of his entrepreneurial family:


  1. There was no pushing. My wife and I never assumed, as we raised and educated our children, that we were pointing them in any particular direction. True, we did enlist them at crunch times to help with our software business. But there wasn't even the slightest hint that they were supposed to work in the family business at some point.

  2. Education in our family was about learning, not preparation for a business career. All five of them have undergraduate degrees from prestigious schools and two have graduate degrees, but there isn't a business major or a master's in business administration among them. They chose their own colleges and studied what they wanted. They found technology and entrepreneurship later, when the time was right.


Of course, having kids to cultivate into entrepreneurs may be the furthest thing from your mind at present because either you're in the midst of launching a company or you're simply too young to consider it. But perhaps these points shed light on how your parents raised you to start up? Maybe something they did or didn't do helped make you into the entrepreneur you are or aspire to be.

To read Berry's unabridged take on the subject, check out "How I Raised a Family of Entrepreneurs"

How did your parents make an entrepreneur out of you? Leave a comment and let us know.

Diana Ransom is the former deputy editor of Entrepreneur.com.

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