Did your entrepreneurial parents inspire you to take the leap and become a business owner?
It’s obvious that working with family is dear to us through our show, with BusinessBeware.Biz and through our own businesses. Sure, it’s tough working with family but the pros far outweigh the cons as far as we are concerned. Not everyone has worked with family but many do come from families with an entrepreneurial background and sometimes that plays a huge role on a person deciding to create their own business. We asked current business owners if their parents or family members inspired them to start their business and if they do work with family to share some insight on how they work together. See what Shaun Walker of HERO|Farm had to say about his inspiration for starting his business…
Did you grow up with your parents owning a business or any family members that were entrepreneurs? If so, tell us who in your family were business owners and how they inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
My dad is now retired, but he was a radio DJ for 35 years in New Orleans and is well known in the area. However, while he continued to create a legacy on the airwaves he also was as an entrepreneur. He and my mom opened their first business, a “Blockbuster Music” like predecessor that had about 4 locations. Ultimately, it failed a few years later and they went bankrupt.
While running the music store and also doing his radio thing, he’d DJ weddings and events. People always were asking him questions about who the best caterer, florist, reception hall was and he then started up a wedding magazine guide in New Orleans. It was a successful business that he sold 26 years later.
My older brother is also an entrepreneur. Although he is a TV news anchor, he and his wife have started a few ventures in recent times, one of which is extremely successful.
If you decided to join the family business rather than start your own, what was the deciding factor for you? If you started your own business because you didn’t want to join the family, what was the reason?
I chose not to join the family business because I was not passionate about nor interested in the wedding industry. Although I could have began there and gotten experience, I, personally, wanted to get out into the world, meet new people and create my own legacy.
Even though your family members were entrepreneurs, were they supportive of you creating your own business?
They were very supportive. Although at times they would question if we were making enough money and if I should move on to other ventures or a corporate job, they gave advice and fully supported me.
When you created your startup did you ask your parents for funding or did you choose to get a bank loan?
Neither. We first began our business by working out of my business partner’s house and used our connections from a previous job’s life to strengthen our new, fledgling company. We have never taken out a loan and used maybe a couple hundred dollars for simple things to get going. Otherwise, we’ve just built up from scratch and have no loans to repay.
What was the hardest thing about growing up with family members owning a business? And if you work with family, what is the toughest thing about working everyday together?
The hardest thing was when my dad would hit crunch time right before his magazine would be sent off to the press. It was physically and mentally taxing on him. Although his business was home-based and he would be sitting in his office right down the hall, it would feel like he was miles away. It was a very odd experience because they are right there by you yet you feel so far from them. After over three years of helping run HERO|farm, I certainly better understand the pressure, time suck and ways you can get wrapped up in what you’re doing.
I have to give it to my dad, he has always been a hard worker who did everything he could to make sure our family had a great life. He’s been an inspiration for me my entire life and I like to think its rubbed off on me. It may sound cliche, but I really admire my entire family, including the extended one. They are all incredible people.
What’s the best piece of advice you received from family members that have been there, done that?
“No matter what happens, remember where you came from and who you are, and you’ll be fine.” – My brother, Scott Walker
“Up, down, left, right, black, white…Make a decision.” – My dad, Bob Walker. That first step is tough, but it’s better to be wrong and moving than staying stagnant and hoping for a lighting bolt to strike.
Tell us about HERO|farm and what it’s all about.
My business partner, Reid Stone, and I have been working together for about 4.5 years now—2 at a previous agency and now almost 3 here at HERO|farm….
There’s nothing quite like having your industry collapse around you to make you evaluate the future. The advertising world is usually a good prognosticator to the health of the economy. And having worked in this industry for several years with HERO|farm’s soon to be co-founder, Reid Stone, it had dawned upon us more than once that a great shift was on the horizon. When the market tripped and the axe fell in 2008 due to scared clients and shrinking budgets, our “what ifs” turned into “what nows?” Thankfully, we had pondered the idea of a new breed of advertising agency and, at this point, just had to find a way to make it a reality.
What do you do outside of your business for fun and a way to recharge the batteries?
Spend time with friends and family. Ultimately, that’s all life is really about—The people you love. No amount of money, fame or power can give you the feeling you get from making others happy and being with those you care about and who care about you.
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