4 Things My Grandfather Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

Scared and excited to be an entrepreneur during these bi-polar times? This is nothing new, and I look to my grandfather for how he survived and prospered during the Great Depression.

My grandfather, Dominic, grew up during the Great Depression. Like me in the 2000s, he just missed the boom years that happened in the 1920s (see Roaring Twenties) when he was an adult.

Grandpa

Dominic with my father on the right and uncle on the left. (circa 1944)

Dominic was the son of an Italian immigrant factory worker. His father immigrated in the 1900s after poor economic conditions in Italy caused a flood of immigrants to enter the U.S. through Ellis Island. No doubt, Dominic longed for a better life than that provided by his father.

Corporate downsizing and explosion of the Internet / mobile revolution casts a bittersweet coating in today’s environment. High unemployment marred the 30s and early 40s, like today, but new technologies like the mass-produced automobile combined with an increasing population created opportunities.¬†Tough times called for creativity, like they do today.

Create Something People Need

When times are tough, you need to offer something people need. When times are good, you’ll still be around. Dominic owned a barber shop with several employees. If you had a job or wanted one during the Great Depression you needed be clean shaven and kempt (unlike me today!). Barriers to opening a physical business were lower then, but today Internet businesses can have very low overhead.

Always Keep Cash Handy

Dominic had cash money along with other forms of money, but it was real cash or liquid. Tough lending practices by banks like today prevented a frenzy. Cash is what keeps a business operating today and tomorrow. You can’t weather storms without cash. It’s also easy to acquire great real estate if you have cash.

You Need Multiple Streams of Income

Dominic had many different types of assets. In fact, the same assets we see today. He had dividend stocks, bonds, the barbershop, and a large multi-family house that he rented out. Even in the worst of times, assets like these will produce. It’s easy to sleep at night knowing all your eggs are NOT in one basket.

You Can Never Be Fired

When you create your own job, you can never be fired. Dominic was never fired. Who could fire him? He owned the place, literally. He had a nice retirement and lived into his 80s.

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