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Family Influence on Entrepreneurship

Dan Bricklin, the founder of VisiCalc and other businesses, told his story to Harvard Business Review (September 2001). He had several insights on entrepreneurship that will ring true to families in business.

Bricklin’s father ran a business that he inherited from his father. Time at their business and dinner table conversations, he said, “prepared me (though I didn’t realize it at the time) for the trials I would face in my own ventures.” One important insight: “respect for the paradox of running your own business – the contradictory feelings of freedom and responsibility.” Another: “Growing up, I never expected that some big company would eventually take care of me.”

Bricklin tells about some of the inevitable challenges and failures that come with entrepreneurship and tells of how essential it was that he felt his family’s support. “When you’re an entrepreneur, you need a family who will support you that way, a family who will separate your success in business from your worth as a person.”

Two other insights help Bricklin maintain balance and perspective: “You are not your business”, and, the importance of timing – being in the right place at the right time.




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