At the age of 45, my father was made redundant from Dunlop (tyre factory), his was getting a divorce, his idealistic ambitions of his five children coming to the family home and parking their cars on the tarmac from, was over.
What happened next was the making of him. His focus was family now he had to focus on himself and start again.
My father went to the US to get work and if you have seen the film Waterfront with Marlon Brando he had gone from a sublime existence just to exist. Eventually, he got a foothold after moving from New York to Baltimore working in a corner store.
My father got into entrepreneurship from necessity; he would never call himself an entrepreneur, both my parents were blue collar workers, he just found a way, and ironically my siblings are self-employed.
My father eventually purchased the corner store and can tell many stories of people breaking in at night, having a gun pointed at his face, having to use a gun, and breaking both his ankles. He had to learn fast to survive but during his many struggles, he never lost his sense of humour and positive outlook. He has many stories about the struggles of the community and being a part of the community.
He is now 81 retired with a small portfolio of commercial and residential properties feeling happy and blessed; may of the friends he worked with in Dunlop never lived to full retirement having died of cancer.
- He is the first to throw himself in and not worry about the consequences; he did this buying the store. He is the first and the last on the dance floor now with age a night on the dancefloor means the next day is nursing his sore limbs, but he gets right back up when the music take him.
- He is a broken record with gratitude, thankfulness, counting his blessing, laughing, and seeing the funny side. He customers love him, he is the biggest flirt and brings everyone great joy so much so people want to be in his company, his attitude in infectious.
- He would be the first to admit that he has made many mistakes. His life has been full of challenging decisions; only time can tell if your decisions are wrong or right. My Father is the first to say ‘you cannot change it you can only move forward’.
- When my father was in business, After a 12 -16 hour day, he would not go to bed until the money was counted ready for banking, the wholesale shopping list created and the store cleaned down. No matter if this meant he got only 2 hours sleep, my father was up and out by 5.45am ready to open up at 6.45am.
The Lessons I Learnt from my Father:
- Jump into life and do not over think it.
- Make gratitude your attitude.
- Ask forgiveness, not permission.
- Be consistently systematic.
You might think entrepreneurship is for young people that have a great original idea and the fact the average age of a start-up entrepreneur is 47. Little by little, my father planned saved and achieved his goals. Most entrepreneurs are just doing a job, serving the community, making a living for their families. We expect so much from entrepreneurs but forget the sacrifices they make, the challenges they face, that they are like our cousins, uncles and aunts making a contribution to our lives and the community.
I am so grateful to my Father, for setting me the example of a great father, a hard working entrepreneur and a valuable member of the community. Long may he enjoy health, happiness and laughter.