Thanks to My Dad for what he Taught me About Small Business

About this time of year I like to express my love and appreciation for my father who died in

December 1987 at the young age of 47. As a small dairy farmer in Oley, he was surely

considered self-employed. Farming has never been an easy profession and by the 70s when I

was growing up, small farms were struggling. As the oldest of six kids on the farm I learned

many lessons about running a small business.

Let’s thank and reflect how and what my dad taught me.

Although the lessons included a lot of hard work for a young girl, I started milking cows at age

nine. Cows need to be milked twice a day, every day — whether it’s your birthday, Christmas,

it’s snowing or there’s a hurricane, that still means every day. I learned to take care of the

resources and tools that create your income. Those cows created the milk that was sold to

support our family. Dad taught me to care for others above myself.

There are things that you just can’t control.

When you grow the food for your animals, you are subject to the weather. So one year there

could be a drought and another year be a flood. Some years there would be extra that could

be sold to generate cash; and some years there was a shortage. Then, he would have to go

out and buy cow feed. I learned that in business there can be unexpected income and

sometimes unexpected expenses.

Profitability can be hard to find.

Feed prices go up, veterinary prices go up but the price of milk, our main product, mostly

stayed flat. Sometimes you just can’t raise your prices enough because the marketplace won’t

allow it. I grew up seeing my dad worry about money. I learned to always set aside some cash

for events that you can’t control.

Finding things to sell.

Because there is never enough cash whenever a big bill came along, like insurance, taxes, and

my tuition bill when I went to college, my dad would have to find something to sell. Often that

Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Good

Life Advisors LLC, a registered investment advisor. Good Life Advisors LLC and Good Life Financial Group

are separate entities from LPL Financial.

would be an extra load of hay, some steers, and sometimes even one of the cows that didn’t

produced enough milk. That taught me to be creative about financing.

Every day was a workday.

Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, every day the animals need to be tended. I learned that

sometimes the business that you’re in requires a lot of overtime. When you’re doing something

you love, it generally doesn’t even feel like work.

Outdoors in the sunshine.

I believe my father picked farming because he liked being outdoors. He also liked the freedom

of deciding what to do next and not being told by someone else.

Growing your business

Even when times are good there can be a lot of restrictions on growth. My dad had to go buy

the ‘rights’ to get more cows to produce more milk. Each farm had what was called a quota,

buying the government’s permission from another farmer who was downsizing. That taught

me that every business has rules you need to abide.

Whenever there is a pork shortage one year all the farmers were tempted to raise a big pen of

pigs for the pork. Inevitably next year, the price of pork would go really low (since farmers all

thought the same thing). Great for consumers who were buying at the grocery store but not

for the farmers. I learned to not only look at short-term sales, but also long-term trends.

Family is important.

My dad was the youngest of nine children. I have over 39 first cousins mostly here in

Pennsylvania. We helped each other with building, remodeling, childcare and numerous other


Choose your business carefully.

No one could imagine having a bookstore or video store these days. But a generation ago

these would’ve been thriving businesses with lots of hope.

In closing, this December, I’d like to thank my father for giving me the strength to persevere

when things were tough, the loyalty to help others in providing a truly needed service, and the

wisdom to prepare for the things that might happen along the way.

So thank your father when you see him next. And thank him in your heart if he is no longer


Securities offered through LPL financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Good

Life Advisors LLC, a registered investment advisor. Good Life Advisors LLC and Good Life Financial Group

are separate entities from LPL financial.

Merra Lee Moffitt, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional (CFP®), is a Senior Partner,

Wealth Strategist at Good Life Financial Group. She loves helping business owners grow their

financial independence via their businesses. She helps her clients keep work/family balance

while they pursue lifetime financial success. She can be reached at, 610-488-7353 or by email

at . Also check out . Oh, by the way we’ve grown

and now have moved to 2395 Lancaster Pike, Reading, PA 19607.