When Kentucky native Kyle Eaton decided to become an entrepreneur in 2016, launching his own social media and public relations agency, his parents were apprehensive but supportive. “It’s a parent’s job to worry that their child is making the right choice,” Kyle admits. “But once they saw I had done my research, they were behind me one-hundred percent.” In January 2020, it was Kyle’s turn. His father called to inform him that he had quit his job as an electrician and HVAC serviceman to start his own business.
Skepticism at Start
“My dad had been an electrician and worked in HVAC servicing since I was 5 years old,” Kyle recalls. “So when the phone rings and he tells me he’s quitting, I was obviously puzzled.” But the confusion was short-lived. Kyle’s dad explained that he was quitting for the same reasons Kyle had walked away from his job in 2016. “For as long as I can remember, he has dreamed of starting his own company, and he finally did it,” Kyle explained. “I’ve never been more proud of him.” At first, that pride translated into support, offering opinions and advice when his dad asked. Soon, however, the conversations became a bit more in-depth.
A Family Affair
Within months, Kyle was a full partner in the business, sharing his entrepreneurial wisdom. “I don’t know the first thing about air conditioners or repairing them,” Kyle says. “But I do know what it takes to run a business, and I know what speed bumps to avoid and which growing pains are worth toughing out. Being able to handle logistical sides of the business, IT, marketing, and general tech needs alleviates a lot of stress from my parents.” The partnership was immediately fruitful, with the small start-up earning six-figures in the first six months.
Navigating New Conversations
But even with the early success of the business, Kyle acknowledges that the family partnership was not without growing pains. “I’ve done business with several close friends in the past, but this is the first time I’ve worked with family on such a large scale,” he says. “It’s different for sure. You’re working with people that know you best and are comfortable with having unfiltered conversations with you.” It didn’t take long, however, for the family to find their footing, establishing boundaries and learning to separate work from life. “It’s probably not going to come as a surprise when I say be patient with one another, and slow to anger,” Kyle says while smiling. “Keep in mind the long term rewards and remember that business problems can always be solved. Customers come and go. Don’t allow work, or money, to damage relationships.”