Get to know your insurance agent…
This is part two of a never ending series (cue… the never ending story…) designed to help you get to know Dennis and Christine and what drives them to be the best insurance agents in Southeastern Wisconsin.
This week’s question was: Who is an entrepreneur that inspires you (and why)?
I love reading about the person that followed their dreams and started a business out of their garage, put up their house, and ate macaroni and cheese for 4 years while building their business. Reading stories like that inspires me and is what this country is all about.
Many years ago I worked for a small business in Madison. The owner told me that the best part of owning his own business was that he only had to work half-days. And he got to choose the 12-hour period that he decided to work that day! He also fed his family Bisquick pancakes and waffles everyday to save money while he built his business from the ground up.
My daughter worked for a small fast food restaurant in the community. I read an article in the newspaper years ago that the owner used to be a CPA at a very large and reputable accounting firm and made really good money. But he really loved the quick-serve restaurant business and found a perfect location to pursue his passion. He worked open-to-close shifts for many years while building the business and the business recently celebrated their 20-year anniversary.
I still shop at my local hardware store to buy something even knowing that I could get the same thing at the giant box store for a cheaper price. I know that my local hardware store is run by someone who made sacrifices and had sleepless nights while running his/her business.
It is the small business that makes this country go. The family run restaurant, the local accountant, the local insurance guy. These are your neighbors, your kid’s baseball coach and brownie leader. All of these entrepreneurs are an inspiration to me.
This is hard because I always go after Dennis has given his answer and his answers are always so amazingly written.
I had entrepreneur parents, so I am going to have to go with my mom and dad (Sharon and Charles Slater)- and for two different reasons.
First, my dad. He went to school for architecture and then opened up his own firm pretty quickly out of college, I imagine, if everything I can piece together is accurate. He had an entrepreneur to look up to himself- his father owned his own auto shop- so my dad had learned the value of hard work and probably knew a little bit about how to run a business as well from working for his dad.
Now I’m a third-generation entrepreneur. (Aren’t I fancy!) And what I really admire most about my dad is that he took a lot of heat from my sisters and I because he was at work A LOT while we were kids. When he wasn’t at work, he may have been playing golf (aka: networking) or serving on our school district’s school board (aka: networking which caring about our education). Balancing being a parent and owing your own business is HARD. But I really admire him for doing his best.
My mom started her business when I was in 7th grade. It was then that she must have decided she had helped my dad long enough and wanted to venture on her own. She opened up her first business- a card and gift boutique called Expressions in Waukesha. It was my first job and I worked there in some capacity since 7th grade until partway through college. My parents also took over and ran the bakery (Donuts Plus) next door, which I would help out at from time to time. I was a teaching full time during those days but when someone would call in on a weekend or when I needed to save for vacation money- I spent some time behind the counter frosting donuts, remembering people’s coffee orders, and making amazing bagel sandwiches.
What I admire most about watching my mom as an entrepreneur is how she interacted with the customers. She epitomized what customer service meant and it is a value that Dennis and I try really hard to bring into this office daily. Our customers loved my mom. She came down with some major medical issues one time and people came in with cards and presents to take to her just for weeks…. all because they were regulars at the card store and the coffee shop.
My parents are retired now and they have raised four daughters, but I’m the only one that has caught the entrepreneurial bug, so it seems. I don’t know- the way they lived, how they interacted with people, just really inspired me. I hope I do the same for our kids and maybe one of them will catch the entrepreneurial bug as well and we will have a 4th generation business owner coming up the ranks.