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How Growing Up In An Entrepreneurial Family Shows You How To Succeed

I eat out a lot. I consistently like trying new trendy places here in London, and ever since I can remember, I've always enjoyed the experience of having a nice meal out.

Recently, I was in the mood for Indian, something one can easily find on any given street corner in London.

The national dish is chicken tikka masala, believe it or not, and what some call the Tex-Mex of Britain. With a large Indian diaspora here, you're never far from a good local curry house.

Well, that craving I was having turned into reality, and I found myself kicking back a cold Kingfisher beer, catching up on Twitter via my iPhone.

As I waited for my mains to arrive, I couldn't help but notice two kids running around the restaurant chasing each other with toy cars.

As the owner approached my table and brought out my food, he quickly apologized for any inconvenience I might have experienced, ushering his two kids back into the kitchen.

I immediately responded back saying not to worry, as I didn't mind. Thinking about it over dinner, I couldn't help but have a sense of familiarity with what I had just witnessed, and how my upbringing in an atmosphere similar to those two young kids made me who I am today.

I feel extremely appreciative for my family's entrepreneurial path, which afforded me an abundance of work insight that no university degree or textbook could ever offer.

While those two kids were far too young to realize it, much like many who have grown up in the industry, it teaches you how to set yourself up for success, instilling key entrepreneurial values early on in life.

My parents decided to move to United States in the 1990s, bringing with them a unique story and very little knowledge of the American business landscape.

Years earlier, my dad was a young and curious 22-year-old, with a thirst to experience life outside his native village in Punjab, India. He borrowed roughly $500 from my grandparents and set forth a plan to write the next chapter of his life in Europe.

Hailing from a successful family business my grandfather had built in agriculture, my dad found his life in Amsterdam drastically different. He hustled to find work and fell into working in restaurant kitchens to make ends meet.

During the next few years, he traveled across Europe making new connections, living life and gaining valuable experience he never thought he would need.

He worked throughout The Netherlands, France, Italy, Hungary, Canada and Germany. I distinctly remember him telling me stories about not having enough money for rent and often sleeping on park benches not far from the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

My mom grew up in the East African city of Mombasa, Kenya, as her family left India under the British occupation.

Both my grandmothers were a result of these events in history; my maternal grandmother was born in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and my paternal grandmother in Nairobi, Kenya.

My grandfather owned a local business and worked hard to eventually relocate the entire family to London after Kenya gained its independence.

After an arranged marriage in London, my parents moved to Germany together before the Berlin Wall collapsed in 1989. They lived there with my older brother for more than 10 years before coming back to London to have me.

Somewhere along the line, they happened to visit a family friend who lived in New England in the 90s and thought of the benefits of raising a family in America. Soon after, snowy Portland, Maine became our home, with the addition of my younger brother.

With no concrete plan in place before moving to America, my dad noticed a hole in the market and decided to test the waters by opening his first restaurant.

With hard work and long hours, he soon opened two more stores, which became the bread-and-butter industry to which my family became accustomed.

We all chipped in to run a successful family business, even when we weren't even tall enough to access the cash register. By the time I was 21, I started to take my family's business more seriously and helped out more frequently.

From working special events and caterings to waiting tables to make some extra booze money for the weekends, I got more serious about investing in what my parents started.

While back then, I got annoyed when my parents missed extracurricular activities because they didn't work normal hours; the message behind why they were absent was not lost on me.

Their sacrifices and investment in our family's businesses directly linked to the betterment of our — their kids' — futures.

When my older brother went off to college, I learned how expensive American degrees could be.

My parents financed my older brother's doctorate degree, my master's degree and my little brother's bachelor's degree — all at top private universities. You could say we owe our parents a fortune.

It's through my parents' work ethic and business skills that my family has been blessed with what we have today. So, you're probably wondering, how does this make you all succeed?

Sacrifice

Watching my parents invest their lives in running a successful business was often hard to do. They put in endless hours of work, planning and energy to ensure financial success.

It was these odd hours of operation I witnessed my parents getting up in the early hours of the morning, only to return home late at night, which helped me get through my hardest finals weeks in college in Boston.

When I pulled all-nighters in grad school, I remembered as I sat comfortably in a library at 3 am, sipping my cup of coffee: “My life is good and I am lucky.”

I realized that I as I thought this, my dad was likely still awake, preparing 3,000 samosas with his team for a catered wedding the next morning.


Attitude

My dad's infectious smile, charisma and passion for work have permeated everything I do.

Regardless of how he feels that day or how much sleep he had the night before, he always gets up, dresses up, shows up and never gives up on his dreams of working hard and staying positive to achieve success for what he loves most.


Reputation

Having been raised Hindu, my parents instilled in me the value of karma early on. What goes around will come around, and when you lie, steal, cheat or do wrong, it will come back to affect you negatively.

My parents always urged us to give back to others, as we were able to benefit from so much.

Lending a helping hand to others in need will only make you a better person. Being honest and generous will earn you the respect of others in your field and gain the loyal following you hope to attract.


Hospitality

This is something I learned early on, as growing up in the business, it's in our nature to enhance the dining experience.

From watching my parents always welcome customers into their restaurant, and even our home, a certain aspect of hospitality still remains in my blood.

It has greatly impacted me in my social life, as I love to entertain, host parties and make my guests and friends feel welcome.

My friends used to regularly comment on how a visit to my house always ends with a full stomach.


Risk

I regard any entrepreneur as a risk taker. You have to be brave, bold and daring to achieve your dreams and have financial success.

Without my dad's curiosity of the world and series of odd jobs around Europe, he would have never had the opportunity to open a business of his own in another foreign country.

His risks have taught me valuable lessons in believing in myself and pursuing my dreams without compromise.


Results

Nothing in life is possible without results. My parents not only placed high targets on their business successes, but also on their children's academics. I always knew there was a certain caliber of achievement my parents expected from us.

From having a heavy interest in higher education, down to our personal work ethic, we always knew that in order to be able to live how we want, we must fulfill expectations.

The act of starting and building something from scratch should be a class everyone must take at some point. My brothers and I were pushed to think differently than our counterparts.

When something belongs to you, you tend to take care better care of it and invest in its future growth and well-being.

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Van Sharma

Contributor

►Expat by Nature ►American by Upbringing ►British by Birth ►Indian by Blood ►Kenyan by Kinship ►Aspiring Foreign Affairs Journalist by Virtue.
►Expat by Nature ►American by Upbringing ►British by Birth ►Indian by Blood ►Kenyan by Kinship ►Aspiring Foreign Affairs Journalist by Virtue.

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