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Entrepreneurism in my ancestry, what can it teach me?

I spent much of today reading a bit about my geniality. As I have indicated in the past, Entrepreneurism runs in my DNA.  Prior posts talked about some high level examples from my moms side of the family, but what about my dads? How deep is the entrepreneurism in my ancestry and what can it teach me?

Quaker Records from the 1800s.

The detailed story of my fathers families Entrepreneurism starts in the 1800s. Before this time there are records, but data on business and work is not readily available. At that time my family members were devout Quakers. The Quakers kept great records in the 1800s and thus there are some detailed books available on the subject of their lives and businesses.

Ancestral beginnings of Entrepreneurism

We will start the story with my grand father’s Great grandfather. He was a fairly successful man, if not inconsistent in his endeavors. Over his life time he was a dentist, sold dry goods, farming, sold hydraulic rams, and was a horticulturalist. He moved his family more than once, setting up shop in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana at one point or other. When he passed away he was able to leave a modest sum to my grand fathers’ grand father, which is where our story begins. It’s a story of entrepreneurism run rampant.

Entrepreneurism in Overdrive

Over the course of his life time my grand father’s grand father owned at least 5 different major businesses. The biggest was the water works for his village. However, he also owned at one time or other: an Insurance company, an agricultural supply company, and 2 giant farms known for their specialized fruits and vegetables. He was also a noted politician, sadly his chief platform was prohibition. We won’t hold that against him for the purposes of this post though.

He was so well off that my grand father had a car in his teenage years. This was something almost unheard of before WW2. It really is an impressive story to read about the scale and breadth of his businesses, which lasted for the family well into the 1960s. Now mind you, before you start wondering if FTF is a trust fund baby, even my parents never saw any of this money. My father’s life growing up was more of a country farm boy then something from wall street, and my world reflects much the same economic class, even if it did not include the farm.

Lessons learned from my Ancestor’s Entrepreneurism

I tell you all this not to brag. What someone who died over 80 years ago did matters to me only in what I can learn from them. It appears to me that this case of entrepreneurism in my ancestry might offer a teaching moment. The key theme for both these relations, and in fact other stories I hear about family members that owned businesses is they each pursued multiple income streams and went after the opportunities they saw available.

Entrepreneurism, Always looking for the next opportunity

Whether it be my grand father’s great grand father pursuing opportunity across much of the United States while changing businesses as he saw a market or my grand fathers grand father pursuing any number of businesses, both were always hustling to find the next opportunity. Both maintained multiple businesses at any given time, and as a result the businesses of the later even survived the great depression. Meanwhile, the entrepreneurs on my mother’s side sadly lost their single stream income plumbing businesses as a result of the down turn.

Multiple Income Streams are Key

There is a lesson here. If you want to truly get ahead in life, and protect your livelihood across time, you have to be willing to go in search of opportunity. Rarely does one get rich working for someone else and rarely does an opportunity show up on your doorstep. More importantly though, if you want true financial security, you need to have multiple sources of income. Businesses, jobs, and other opportunities are constantly subject to change. You can come in tomorrow to work and be laid off. Over the medium term you could be replaced by robots. As a business owner tomorrow you could find a major corporation enters your industry and kills off your business. But by diversifying those income streams and ever hustling you’ll increase your chances of thriving.

In the personal finance world you hear a lot of talk of Emergency funds and other planning for the what if. Those are all well and good, but the reality is if you have multiple diverse income streams your likelihood of needing an emergency fund decreases dramatically. The less correlated those streams are the better.

Our recent reduction and reclamation of Multiple Income Streams

So where does that leave me? Around the time I started this blog my wife became a stay at home mom. During that time our income streams were no longer separate. This increased our risk. We still had some other income sources from investments, but none that would replace our full spending numbers during this time. So in the short run I increased our emergency funds as a mitigating factor. It was not the best solution, but it worked in a pinch. However, more recently my wife became a contractor for her former employer.  This brings us back up to two income streams with lesser correlation. This lowered our risk and as such I am working on dropping us back to a lower emergency fund state.

Do you have multiple non correlated income sources? How deep is the entrepreneurism in your ancestry and what can it teach you?


  1. Leo T. Ly
    Leo T. Ly July 12, 2017

    I have about seven income streams. The three main sources of my income are from employment, rental properties, and dividend. I am trying to grow each and every one of my income streams and are also on the lookout for any new opportunities.

    Once the other six income streams can replace close to 70% to 80% of my employment income, I will probably not work for money after that.

    • fulltimefinance
      fulltimefinance July 12, 2017

      Wow 7 income streams. You have us far beat. We still only have 3. Dividend, employment, and consulting. I guess that’s a wake up call to keep adding streams 😉

  2. Derek @ Money by Dad
    Derek @ Money by Dad July 12, 2017

    Right now we’re just at two income streams. My wife’s and mine. We’re beginning to branch out and develop more online opportunities to allow us more flexibility with our lives to enjoy more time as a family.

    Having a kid has really put into focus just how much time a full time job takes away from the day. It wasn’t as big of a deal when it was just me and my wife as we’d have 6 or 7 hours after work before bed but now with kid #1 he’s asleep within 2 hours of us getting home. It’s heartbreaking to no be able to spend more time with him on a daily basis.

    • fulltimefinance
      fulltimefinance July 12, 2017

      I know the feeling with the kids. Our oldest son is asleep by 8 and I’m not home until 5:30 or so. Time is at a premium.

  3. Mr. Need2Save
    Mr. Need2Save July 12, 2017

    We currently have 2 major income streams (employment income for the both of us) and a minor income stream through dividends. I’m considering some part-time community college teaching next year.

    On the ancestry front, my father’s side of the family has primarily been in the blue collar trades; with a number of them (including my father) owning their own business.

    • fulltimefinance
      fulltimefinance July 14, 2017

      Which topic are you considering teaching? I’ve always dreamed of teaching economics as a part time second act.

      • Mr. Need2Save
        Mr. Need2Save July 16, 2017

        Considering Computer Science and/or Mathematics. But now that you mention it, Economics would be interesting as well

  4. Cubert
    Cubert July 21, 2017

    Insightful stuff! I think I can relate- my grandfather was a through and through entrepreneur. He owned a nightclub and later appliance stores. Probably why I can’t stick with a corporate gig where I’m not my own boss.

    • fulltimefinance
      fulltimefinance July 21, 2017

      Interesting, it does seem to run in families.

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