There is a saying that “we are our parents.” I see so much of myself in my son Dominick. We have the same spirit. The same drive.
Dominick is 16 years old and entering his junior year. He is the type of student that thrives in the more physical curriculum of his high school. His passion is constructing, creating and improving his surroundings. He wants to build a better world, one brick at a time.
Dom started mowing lawns to make some spending money a few years ago, and would come home at the end of the day, sweating and smiling, proud to have done a good job. As he got older and more mature, he began to realize that working with his hands was his destiny and decided to get serious and actually launch his own business at the ripe old age of 15.
I know all about being an entrepreneur, having built Warwick Resource Group and expanding it to include offices on both coasts, but I also know how hard it is to launch an entity … the sacrifices, the exhaustion, the possibility of failure, the outside forces that you have no control over.
When your child harnesses his entrepreneurial spirit, you have an internal struggle on how much to get involved. How much to protect them. A parent constantly wrestles with his conscience.
It is similar to when your toddler is first learning to walk. You need to let them go, so they learn to put one foot in front of the other and find their equilibrium, but you line the house with pillows, so that when they fall, they don’t get too injured. The trick is creating a gentle balance between nurturing their spirit, prompting them to get the education they need to succeed in business, and letting make the mistakes that will teach them the lessons they have to learn.
They key to this balance, is “no judgment communication.” Dom has an open door to ask any question about building a business without me scrutinizing the validity of the question. Everyone has a different means of acquiring knowledge and coming to conclusions. Sometimes the simplest answer can result in the most amazing thoughts.
The joy comes when Dom makes really good decisions without guidance. He doesn’t even ask, he just knows.
Recently, some decorative grass was accidentally damaged when landscaping at a client’s house. The homeowner was not pleased. Fixing the problem and restoring the property, would mean that Dominick would not make a profit on the job. It was going to cost him, more than the job was worth, but he took responsibility, he made the right choice to buy new plants and spend the time digging and planting. He wanted to do the right thing and he also knew that it was important to his reputation to be an honorable businessman.
In the end the homeowner was amazed the garden looked better than it did with the previous decorative grasses. And she told him that she would recommend him to all of her friends. It may have lost money on that project, but in the end that referral may get him 5 more jobs.
His desire to succeed and improve his business is factoring into may of the decisions that Dominick is making at this stage of his life. He just got his driving permit and needs to consider into what kind of vehicle he is going to choose. Does he spend his money on a sports car, or spend his money investing in equipment and a truck, which will help him in the long run? He will be looking at colleges this year. Do I go away and leave the business that I am working so hard to build, or stay local so that I can divide my time between taking classes that will help me maneuver and succeed in the business world and keep the actual business flowing and keeping it strong?
Dominick is beginning to think like an executive, weighing the profitability of certain projects, making plans for the years ahead, forming his vision.
It can be difficult not jumping in and making the decisions for him, pushing him to do it my way in order to protect him from the grief of making mistakes. Nevertheless, when he falls, he simply gets back up and brushes himself off. Over time, he stumbles less and less, makes more mature and correct decisions. That is my boy and I am so proud. :)