Favorite Lesson My Entrepreneur Dad Taught Me

Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.

My dad’s been an entrepreneur long before I was born, so it’s not a surprise I learned a lot about business from him. Here’s one of my favorites that I’ll always remember:

When we first immigrated to the US from South Korea, my dad worked long hours at a textile factory. A few years into it, he came home and told us about the soda machines he procured, which was our ticket to the “American Dream.”

So we all went to work.

Every Sunday, we’d gather as a family to clip coupons from several local grocers and organize the never-ending stacks of coins into tiny bank pouches. Thousands of pennies, nickels, dimes, & quarters were all sorted on our living room floor every weekend.

As a whiny 10-year-old, I’d complain incessantly and wondered why we spent so much time clipping coupons. My dad sat down next to me and said:

“Son, imagine if we sold a can of Coke for $1. How much money would we keep?”

A dollar, I replied.

“But we bought the can for 75 cents. With that in mind, how much money would we keep to ourselves?”

I pointed to a quarter.

“Good, so when we use these coupons, we can buy each can for 50 cents. How much would we keep to ourselves then?”

I pointed to a second quarter.

“Good! Now imagine if we sold a thousand cans. How much more would we make by using these coupons?”

Getting tired of all the math, I asked to play video games instead. I didn’t know then, but in that one conversation, my dad taught me the fundamentals of running a business: profit margins, inventory management, cost-of-goods-sold, and most importantly, having patience.

As I’m finding out myself with Apical Design, running a business is not easy. At times, I feel like that 10-year-old kid, doing repetitive tasks over and over. But this time, it’s a lot more fun! Starting a business has been one of the most challenging, albeit rewarding, experiences I’ve ever encountered. I have no idea how my dad made it seem so effortless over these years.

I’m thankful I had my dad to show me the way, even if I was a little too young to understand the lesson at the time.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. You’re an inspiration.

Ben Kim

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