Gone is the age when a business or craft is passed from parent to child. And with that—we hope—gone are the days when parents forced, or strongly encouraged their children into set career paths.
The world is changing and now, we have the opportunity to create our own jobs and fix the problems, rather than have a defined career progression (if that’s what we want).
This year for Father’s Day, we thought it’d be nice to speak to startup founders and business owners for their take on entrepreneurship and if they would let their children join the world they move in. Some are already fathers or are fathers-to-be and some might be fathers in the future.
Here’s what they had to say.
1. “Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted and while I don’t think my son has one, I would rather have him decide for himself what he wants to do.” – Sam Shafie, WatchTower & Friends and pitchIN
Sam doesn’t see himself actively encouraging his son into entrepreneurship, but he doesn’t deny that his son has had a fair bit of exposure to it.
Sam’s son currently wants to start his career as either a Deputy Public Prosecutor or a criminal lawyer. He follows his father’s footsteps; Sam was a Deputy Public Prosecutor and spent 16 years in the public sector before starting a business on his own.
What if his son ever wants to go into entrepreneurship?
“It’s the same principle whether you’re opening a café or starting a tech company. Validating. Knowing your numbers. But most importantly, I’d like for him to realise that there’s no substitute for working smart and to stay focused. To treat customers and colleagues with respect. It’s a marathon. Not a sprint,” said Sam.
2. “I don’t think being an entrepreneur is some sort of ultimate goal of all human achievement, they are just one possible route in making an impact.” – Derek Toh, WOBB
Derek is a brand new father, and he told us that he would hope to bring up his daughter in the ways of entrepreneurship.
“I believe the entrepreneurial mindset and personality is useful in whatever she chooses to do in future. It doesn’t mean she should be an entrepreneur though.”
He explained, “There is great talent in science, arts, and social causes and many other areas where she can excel at and live a life of meaning. So I would expose her, but not necessarily encourage her. I’ll let her decide for herself when the time comes.”
His advice for her if she does choose to pursue it?
3. “Not everyone was born to be an entrepreneur. My parents let me decide my path, so I believe that’s the best a parent can do.” – Curry Khoo, Second Startup
“I come from a broken family. My parents divorced when I was in college. And my mom supported me on whatever path I chose. She told me, it’s fine as long as I know what I’m doing and I’m ethical.”
Curry believes in bringing up his children the same way—offering them the freedom and support to do what they want, whether it is running their own business or working for others.
4. “Not everyone needs to or wants to run their own business but everyone wants to hire someone accountable that does things with passion and accountability as if they were owners themselves.” – Bikesh Lakhmichand, 1337 Ventures
Bikesh’s first words if any of his children in the future want to go into entrepreneurship?
He counts himself as lucky that his own parents allowed him to plot his own course of action. “From picking what I wanted to study, dropping out of it, where I’d work and then quitting and eventually being crazy enough to start my own company—they’ve been truly supportive in all my endeavours.”
5. “Entrepreneurship is about encouraging yourself to step out from your comfort zone, pushing boundaries, taking risks and being ready for the best or worst outcome!” – Jerry Hang, GetDoc
Jerry’s future children who want to join the entrepreneurial ecosystem might be in for a surprise if they approach him for help.
“Go ahead but don’t ask me for money!”
Of course, the statement above is just a “dad joke” from Jerry. He actually has three points of advice for them:
1. Understand who are you serving, what is your plan in reaching out to them and most importantly why you are doing what you are doing.
2. Get a like-minded team that shares the same vision as you yet different from you in terms of characteristics, so that everyone can chip in their ideas from different aspects.
3. Stay lean, stay focused; never be afraid of trying and failing!
6. “I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everyone. Some people prefer a stable corporate work life.” – Tang Tung Ai, StrongByte Studio
Tung Ai echoed most of the other founders, agreeing that entrepreneurial skills are life skills that he would hope to impart to his child.
“However I wouldn’t actively encourage them to start their own business. I try not to let my kid think that running his own business is the only way to be success in life.”
Of course, he does want to support his children in their future endeavours, if they are really committed to what they’re doing.
“I think I will say go ahead as long as they show me that they are taking calculated risks and not pure risk-tasking in starting their venture,” he said.
7. “Entrepreneurship teaches you how to better manage your time, your tasks, how to better communicate and so much more. If done well, it really can bring out the best in you.” – Adham Fayumi, Auto Craver
Adham takes encouraging entrepreneurship in children seriously.
“I even thought of setting up ‘internship’ periods with other entrepreneurs’ companies during my kids’ holiday season for them to learn as much as they can, and be more exposed,” he said.
He is also definitely very open to the idea of his children starting their own businesses in the future. “I would give my full support for them, including some small startup capital.”
8. “My parents let me make my own decisions. They offered me counsel. But they would never actively encourage or discourage unless they foresaw considerable harm.” – Warren Chan, ParkEasy
Warren believes that his upbringing has trained him to make decisions that now extend beyond himself and affect others. “I hope that I may treat my children this way too,” he said.
Introducing his children to entrepreneurship is something that he would like to do, but only if they want to.
“I don’t want to be the parent that forces their children to take up piano because they did. Actions like such would probably backfire by creating spite towards the forced activity. In exposing them, my purpose would simply be to let them try various career flavours to help them figure out which is their favourite.”
Even if his future children are enthusiastic, he won’t be too quick to agree.
“I would drill them hard to find out their ‘why’. It must be good.”
As it turns out, though these men clearly enjoy what they do, many of them acknowledge that it isn’t something they’d deliberately bring their own children into.
These founders may not necessarily want to see their children taking the same path, but all agree: entrepreneurial skills are beneficial and useful, whatever field you’re in.
Many spoke of their own parents encouraging them and we’re reminded once again, how parents’ love and support allows their children to truly soar out into the world. It’s good to take some time to appreciate them and thank them for all they’ve done.
Here’s wishing all the fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day!