Entrepreneur Beginners Guide
“Your Parents Want You to Get a Real Job with Benefits”
My son is now an “entrepreneur.” That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job.
—Ted Turner, founder, CNN; businessman; philanthropist
It was too late. How could I have been so careless and left the letter sitting on my bureau? My mother, whose curiosity often has no regard for her children’s privacy, had the letter in her hand. I don’t think that she read the whole thing before sprinting to show it to my father. I am almost sure she stopped reading around the third paragraph of the two-page letter that stated, “Your initial compensation will be $55,000 per year. . . . If you decide to accept employment with us, we will pay you a signing bonus in the amount of $5,000 payable upon acceptance.” Oh no! My parents found out what I had hoped they never would.
That Christmas holiday in 2000, 1 was barely a senior in college and had just turned twenty years old. Three weeks before I went home for the break, 1 received an offer letter from one of the then Big 5 consulting firms, but hadn’t read it. 1 was not interested in reading it, because I had no intention of actually taking the job—no matter how much money the company offered me. Over the holiday, I finally decided to read the letter. The package was worth over $80,000 in 2012 dollars, not including benefits.
The first thing that my father said to me after finding out about the job offer took me by surprise. He grumbled, “Even after working for the same company for over thirty years, I don’t even get twenty days of paid vacation.” After his comment, I felt a bit guilty for having blown off the offer. I knew after that awkward encounter that he and my mother wanted me to accept the offer, which symbolized the summation of all their efforts. I felt like the golden child. I had received a full ride to college, and now I had an incredible job offer during what pundits said was one of the worst job markets for college graduates in years. Still, I wanted to take a different path, a more exciting adventure that I thought would lead me to true self-actualization.
My parents eventually accepted my decision to pursue entrepreneurship 100 percent. After that Christmas holiday they never really pushed me get a “real job.” I thank them for that. Perhaps their support comes from having full confidence in me to accomplish my goals. I suppose it helped, too, that I was able to take care of myself from day one with little help from them. The funny thing is that nowadays my mother, who still believes that a corporate job is the highest form of security and social prestige, often asks me with a tone of motherly concern, “How is your business?” As I have during the last twelve years, I reassure her, saying, “It’s going well.” For some reason, I don’t think my answer lessens her concern, especially since I have a family now. My dad doesn’t say much, although I know he’s supportive.
If your parents want you to get a real job, be patient with them. Of course, they have your best interest at heart. I am just over thirty years old, and I think they would still like for me to get a real job. It’s just the expectation of their generation, and anything out-side the norm is a huge risk. In many ways, they are right. We all know that more businesses fail than succeed. As for you, the best thing to do is to work hard to build a business that is profitable and highly successful. Perhaps write them a check every now and then. I low can they not be proud of that?
In case you were wondering what company offered me the job, it was Arthur Andersen, the consulting firm that no longer exists. The firm went with Enron in one of the largest accounting scandals and financial disasters in history. Enron declared bankruptcy on December 2, 2001. Had I accepted their-offer I would have been unemployed in just a few months.
In another strange twist of fate, my father was recently forced into semiretirement by a company for which he’d worked for al-most forty years. The company let him and other highly experienced executives go in a less than honorable way that not even he could have imagined. Who knows? Maybe this is a good thing. Now I can encourage him to become an entrepreneur.