As a father, an entrepreneur and the CEO of our Family Office, my journey into understanding the impact of entrepreneurial parents on their children’s career paths has been both enlightening and deeply personal. The essence of entrepreneurship, as I see it, lies at the intersection of spotting lucrative opportunities and being the enterprising individual ready to leap at these chances. This framework has guided our family’s business endeavours and shaped our philosophy in nurturing the next generation’s career aspirations.

The Core of Entrepreneurship: Opportunity Meets Initiative

Drawing from Shane and Venkatraman’s (2000) paper, entrepreneurialism is defined as “The nexus of two phenomena: the presence of lucrative opportunities and the presence of enterprising individuals”. The legacy of entrepreneurship in a family, symbolised often by a patriarch or matriarch who built a business from the ground up, is a powerful narrative. It serves not just as a tale of success but as a beacon, guiding the family’s collective mindset towards innovation and enterprise.

Legacy and Entrepreneurial Orientation for Long-Term Impact: The Family’s Role

Families can develop an Entrepreneurial Orientation (Nordqvist & Zellweger, 2010) that leads to a flywheel of continuous entrepreneurial activities being sought by a family. This, in turn, culminates into Transgenerational Entrepreneurship as outlined by Calabrò et al. (2022). This leads families to build and sustain a competitive advantage compared to other entrepreneurial families (Hoy, 2006).

Entrepreneurial activities need not just relate to the acquisition of wealth: Social entrepreneurship aims to balance the entrepreneurial activities of individuals with the needs of communities (Lumpkin & Bacq, 2019).

In guiding the next generation, the emphasis has always been on early involvement and supportive parenting, aimed at developing an entrepreneurial orientation. This doesn’t mean dictating career paths but inspiring a mindset open to innovation, risk-taking, and continuous learning. It’s also crucial to gain a comprehensive picture of the working styles and approaches of your Family Members. It’s about showing the value of entrepreneurship by example and providing a safety net that allows the younger members to explore, fail, and ultimately find their unique path to success.

Nurturing the Entrepreneurial Spirit from Youth

A lot has to do with a consistent and gentle nudge enabling children to experience entrepreneurism in all its glory (this includes also the darker sides of entrepreneurism: self-doubt and failure). Research by Marques, Bikfalvi, and Busquet (2022) uses the concept of imprinting to explain how children learn from seeing their parents “in action”, so to speak. This imprinting can also have negative consequences, as Marquis and Tilcsik (2013) suggest, particularly when social class imprinting leads to challenges in adapting to changing financial realities. Furthermore, Yu, Liu, He, and Li (2022) highlight that entrepreneurship is influenced by a combination of genetic factors, hormone levels, psycho-physiological sensitivity, and conditions such as ADHD.

In my experience, every individual holds the potential for entrepreneurship, yet it’s the environment they’re nurtured in that truly unlocks this potential. It’s crucial, especially in affluent families, to recognize that the mantle of entrepreneurship isn’t simply inherited; it’s fostered through a culture of support, respect for individual aspirations, and a shared family ethos that values entrepreneurial endeavours.

It’s also imperative to understand that the blueprint for success in one generation might not directly apply to the next. The world evolves, and with it, the arenas of opportunity transform. Thus, encouraging entrepreneurship within the family means providing the tools and freedom for each member to explore their path, informed by the family’s legacy but not constrained by it.

A critical aspect of nurturing this entrepreneurial spirit is extending it beyond the provision of financial capital. True support encompasses emotional backing, access to a trusted network of advisors, and fostering a culture of critical thinking and resilience. These elements are vital in creating an environment where potential entrepreneurs feel equipped and empowered to pursue their ambitions.

Addressing Gender Dynamics and Demographic Shifts in Entrepreneurism

Gender dynamics within entrepreneurial families still play an important role in the next generation’s career choices. Studies suggest that women often possess traits highly beneficial to entrepreneurial success. Acknowledging and fostering these talents within a family can be crucial in broadening entrepreneurial pursuits and ensuring a diverse and inclusive approach to business. Because girls often feel overlooked in the family business, a career or entrepreneurial activity outside of the traditional family business is often pursued (Schröder & Schmitt-Rodermund, 2013). Additionally, demographics also have an impact on entrepreneurial activities: With fewer children being born into families, there are fewer opportunities for a family-led succession and fewer family-led entrepreneurial activities children (Aldrich & Cliff, 2003).

A Framework to Start an Entrepreneurial Mindset

We call it the 5 C’s – Curiosity, Commitment, Courage, Capability, and Confidence – and it promotes continuous learning and improvement. We have adapted the 5 C’s from Sullivan’s 4 C’s (2015) to cater for the need for a spark to start the process. This approach allows for flexibility and growth. For the Family Council to function effectively, it’s important to encourage all members, especially younger ones, to go through the cycle of these 5 C’s.

  1. To start, it’s important to encourage Curiosity as it fosters involvement and innovation;
  2. The next step is to make Commitments, which promote personal responsibility and accountability;
  3. Courage describes the attitude needed when, at first, no success is found. This determination to continue even though stopping or giving up would be easier. In popular literature this is also referred to as Grit;
  4. Once you’ve worked through the obstacle you’ve overcome, you develop specific Capabilities. These Capabilities can be something you know how to do, people you connect with, etc.; and finally
  5. This leads to Confidence, where accomplishments are recognized, and new goals are set for the next round of five C’s. Then, the cycle begins again.

This process ensures that family members gain the necessary experience to sustain Family Business continuity and creates a competitive advantage for family firms. Family members should be prepared at an early age for entrepreneurial and innovative endeavours. This entrepreneurial mindset within the corporation is difficult to achieve but through sustained effort over a long period this can be done as such, family firms may then create a competitive advantage compared to non-family business firms (Hoy, 2006).

The role of a family in shaping the career choices of its members is profound. Cultivating an environment that not only honours our entrepreneurial heritage but also respects and nurtures the individual passions and talents of each family member, is key to fostering a legacy of innovation and success.


In conclusion, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit in the next generation is a multifaceted endeavour that extends beyond the mere transfer of business knowledge. It involves nurturing a mindset that embraces curiosity, commitment, courage, capability, and confidence. This journey starts with the powerful legacy of entrepreneurial parents and is sustained through intentional parenting, supportive environments, and inclusive family practices that value each member’s unique talents and aspirations.

The role of families in shaping the entrepreneurial destinies of their members cannot be overstated. It requires a conscious effort to balance the preservation of a family’s entrepreneurial heritage with the encouragement of individual paths to success. This balance ensures that the entrepreneurial spirit is not only passed down but also evolves to meet the challenges and opportunities of a changing world.

Furthermore, addressing gender dynamics and demographic shifts is crucial for cultivating a diverse and robust entrepreneurial ecosystem within the family. By acknowledging and nurturing the entrepreneurial potential of all members, families can create a more inclusive and dynamic environment that fosters innovation and resilience.

Ultimately, the goal is to create a legacy of innovation and success that transcends generations, ensuring that the entrepreneurial spirit thrives and adapts. Through continuous learning, improvement, and adaptation, families can build a lasting foundation that not only honours their entrepreneurial heritage but also propels future generations toward new heights of achievement. This process is not just about creating successful businesses but about fostering a culture that celebrates creativity, perseverance, and the relentless pursuit of excellence.


Aldrich, H.E. and Cliff, J.E. (2003) ‘The pervasive effects of family on entrepreneurship: toward a family embeddedness perspective’, Journal of Business Venturing, 18(5), pp. 573–596. Available at:

Calabrò, A. et al. (2022) ‘Transgenerational entrepreneurship in family firms: a configurational approach’, Review of Managerial Science, pp. 1–20. Available at:

Hoy, F. (2006) ‘The Complicating Factor of Life Cycles in Corporate Venturing’, ENTREPRENEURSHIP THEORY and PRACTICE [Preprint].

Lumpkin, G.T. and Bacq, S. (2019) ‘Civic Wealth Creation: A New View of Stakeholder Engagement and Societal Impact’, Academy of Management Perspectives, 33(4), pp. 383–404. Available at:

Marques, P., Bikfalvi, A. and Busquet, F. (2022) ‘A Family Imprinting Approach to Nurturing Willing Successors: Evidence From Centennial Family Firms’, Family Business Review, 35(3), pp. 246–274. Available at:

Marquis, C. and Tilcsik, A. (2013) ‘Imprinting: Toward a Multilevel Theory’, Academy of Management Annals, 7(1), pp. 195–245. Available at:

Nordqvist, M. and Zellweger, T.M. (2010) ‘Transgenerational entrepreneurship: Exploring growth and performance in family firms across generations’, Transgenerational Entrepreneurship: Exploring Growth and Performance in Family Firms Across Generations [Preprint], (January).

Schröder, E. and Schmitt-Rodermund, E. (2013) ‘Antecedents and consequences of adolescents’ motivations to join the family business’, Journal of Vocational Behavior, 83(3), pp. 476–485. Available at:

Shane, S. and Venkataraman, S. (2000) ‘The Promise of Entrepreneurship as a Field of Research’, The Academy of Management Review, 25(1), p. 217. Available at:

Sullivan, D. (2015) The 4 C’s formula. Toronto, Ontario: Strategic Coach Inc.

Yu, X. et al. (2022) ‘Micro-foundations of strategic decision-making in family business organisations: A cognitive neuroscience perspective’, Long Range Planning, p. 102198. Available at: