The Roots of the Family Business
The Roots of the Family Business
By Elizabeth Bowden-David
As entrepreneurs, my husband and I take every opportunity to teach our children about the family business. They are still pretty young, so we stick to basic concepts such as product, customer, revenue, cost, and profit. Many of these discussions take place around the dinner table in our home—or, since we’re restaurateurs, in one of our establishments. Because we are in the food industry, we also talk frequently with our children about tastes, recipes, and cooking methods.
A while ago, however, I became convinced that I was overlooking an even more fundamental aspect of the family business. Indeed, the more I contemplated and read about this particular topic, the more I realized that it would enhance nearly every lesson I wanted to impart to my children about business, health, nature, and life. The topic is simply this: how to grow food.
I entered adulthood with a fairly robust acquaintance with vegetable gardening, having spent childhood summers in Alabama pulling weeds from my father’s patches of squash, beans, and okra and plucking the ripest choices for dinner. I never even tasted a store-bought tomato until college. My husband had similar experiences in south India, where we now live, helping his grandfather tend to mango and coconut trees and, in boarding school, yanking carrots out of the dirt of a nearby field when struck by hunger or whimsy.
Last year, we decided to build upon this legacy by growing some of our own produce. We planted in clay pots on our flat rooftop as well as in a tiny square of dirt outside our doorstep. We started small, with herbs and lettuce, and have since expanded to eggplant, tomato, pumpkin, bitter gourd, and cucumber. The children have found a special joy in planting fruit trees next to the house and have come to appreciate the slow ripening process of papaya, banana, and lemon. I should clarify that we neither grow the produce for the restaurants we run nor harvest every item that shows up on our dinner table. But we’ve all gained tremendously by greening our thumbs a bit, and never has the work cost anyone in our household more than a couple of hours a week. As a next step, I’m planning to install vertical containers that will more than quadruple the space on our roof and balcony.
Until relatively recently in the US, growing vegetables was a common skill and practice. Historians tell us that 20 million American families planted “victory gardens” in World War II to sustain themselves and to ease the pressure on the supply of food for soldiers. In 1944, nearly 40 percent of domestic vegetable production came from front yards, window boxes, and apartment rooftops. Nowadays, with the abundance of produce available in supermarkets and with working hours generally, longer than they were decades ago, knowledge of gardening basics is far less common. In practical terms, why would a busy modern professional such as a knee surgeon, corporate tax attorney, software engineer, or architectural designer grow what he or she can easily purchase?
An environmentally conscious neighbor of mine, who is a busy modern professional himself (engineering sustainable water solutions in urban settings), recently shared his opinion that all children should learn vegetable gardening as an essential life skill. In his family, everyone chips in just a few hours a week to tend a plot next to their house, and by doing so they grow nearly everything they consume…with plenty left over to share with friends.
Whether it’s an essential skill or not, I have learned that there is much for children to gain from the experience of planting a seed, tending to its growth, and harvesting the produce. After all, isn’t that what we have done as entrepreneurs—taking the seed of an idea, nurturing it, and experiencing the satisfaction of the eventual result? And regardless of whether the parallels between gardening and enterprise ever apply directly to my children’s careers, I like to think they are learning valuable lessons. Gardening teaches patience, responsibility, respect for the environment, and the understanding that “whatever one sows, that will he also reap”. Add to this the benefits of putting delicious organic food on the table, saving money on groceries, and encouraging children to make healthy eating choices, and we’ve got a practice that our family is sticking with.
Watching our children, business, and garden grow is an incredible learning experience for me. If I can manage to grow as fast as my curry leaves, I reckon I’ll be doing just fine.
We hope you found this article about “The Roots of the Family Business” helpful. If you have questions or need expert tax or family office advice that’s refreshingly objective (we never sell investments), please contact us or visit our Family office page or our website at www.GROCO.com. Unfortunately, we no longer give advice to other tax professionals gratis.
To receive our free newsletter, contact us here.
Subscribe our YouTube Channel for more updates.
Alan Olsen, is the Host of the American Dreams Show and the Managing Partner of GROCO.com. GROCO is a premier family office and tax advisory firm located in the San Francisco Bay area serving clients all over the world.
Alan L. Olsen, CPA, Wikipedia Bio
GROCO.com is a proud sponsor of The American Dreams Show.
The American Dreams show was the brainchild of Alan Olsen, CPA, MBA. It was originally created to fill a specific need; often inexperienced entrepreneurs lacked basic information about raising capital and how to successfully start a business.
Alan sincerely wanted to respond to the many requests from aspiring entrepreneurs asking for the information and introductions they needed. But he had to find a way to help in which his venture capital clients and friends would not mind.
The American Dreams show became the solution, first as a radio show and now with YouTube videos as well. Always respectful of interview guest’s time, he’s able to give access to individuals information and inspiration previously inaccessible to the first-time entrepreneurs who need it most.
They can listen to venture capitalists and successful business people explain first-hand, how they got to where they are, how to start a company, how to overcome challenges, how they see the future evolving, opportunities, work-life balance and so much more..
American Dreams discusses many topics from some of the world’s most successful individuals about their secrets to life’s success. Topics from guest have included:
Creating purpose in life / Building a foundation for their life / Solving problems / Finding fulfillment through philanthropy and service / Becoming self-reliant / Enhancing effective leadership / Balancing family and work…
MyPaths.com (Also sponsored by GROCO) provides free access to content and world-class entrepreneurs, influencers and thought leaders’ personal success stories. To help you find your path in life to true, sustainable success & happiness. It’s mission statement:
In an increasingly complex and difficult world, we hope to help you find your personal path in life and build a strong foundation by learning how others found success and happiness. True and sustainable success and happiness are different for each one of us but possible, often despite significant challenges.
Our mission at MyPaths.com is to provide resources and firsthand accounts of how others found their paths in life, so you can do the same.
Taking Over the Family Business with Pamela Kan, President of Bishop-Wisecarver Corporation See Pamela’s recent interview with Alan Olsen on Youtube: https://youtu.be/-KvsbCcfmaM Pamela Kan has been the President of Bishop-Wisecarver Corporation since 1999. She is a highly respected leader in the manufacturing and engineering industry, and has been instrumental in growing the company into the…
Igniting Others With Kary Oberbrunner See Kary’s interview with Alan Olsen on Youtube: https://youtu.be/IfPrM7b9LII Do you struggle through life feeling lost? Do you want to find your dream job or perform better at your current day job? Are you looking for a new secret weapon for mastering life? Kary Oberbrunner is a Wall Street Journal…
Today we discuss:
-IRS inflation related adjustm…
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year because it helps me to remember the many things I have to be grateful for: my family, relatively good health, friends, job, religious freedoms (I should probably use more often), and too many other blessings to list. Not to mention the Thanksgiving meal, mashed potatoes,…