In deciding to start up a business of your own, the lessons learned from extended family can pay off in the long run.
Russell Meeds, owner of Meko Construction, Inc. of Monroe, Wa., specializes in excavation, drainage and trucking.
He says he learned most of what he knows about entrepreneurship from his extended family.
"One of my uncles was not in construction but he owned a couple of hotels in Montana and was always business oriented," he says. "My other uncle used to be a congressman, and he's business savvy too – Lloyd Meeds.
"These were guys I always asked questions."
In the business now for 16 years, Meeds quips that he switched from being a truck driver to the challenge of self employment because, "I was young enough that if I goofed up I could go back to work for somebody else."
He started in the concrete trade as a 14-year-old helping out in the summertime and after school with his father's friend's excavation business.
That family friend, Bill Joplin, also of Monroe, became a mentor to Meeds – and in the current economy, Meeds says he needs all the good advice he can get.
"Oh yeah, I would have to say, this year has been the worst I've ever had," he says. Small businesses have especially been hit hard by the banking crisis, which has dried up significant operating capital even as jobs have become scarce.
"We're having to diversify ourselves and having to get into some other areas of work," Meeds says.
Also, as an accredited minority contractor, Meeds is expanding into potential government bids in the Portland area as well as his home base in Western Washington.
He's also networking on LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as listings in the Daily Journal of Commerce.
He advises new entrepreneurs to be prepared for the worst.
"I think the biggest thing for me was it was twice as hard to start a business as it is to go out and work my 9 to 5 job for somebody else," Meeds said.
"So put your business plan together, figure out what you're going to do and how you're going to do it, and stick to it.
"Don't give up because you'll have a lot of bad times in the beginning."