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Nathan and Eldon Pinke at Pinke Lumber. Photo by Matt Fern

Pinke: Moving up by moving home

What holds you back from pursuing a big dream or goal? Is it a fear of failure? The unknown? The practical realities of financing and logistics?

Ten years ago this week, my husband and I invited his parents to visit us in Fargo for my husband's birthday. We took them out to dinner to share about a stirring shift in the direction of our lives: Nathan wanted to quit his corporate sales management job, move back to his hometown and help his parents run their small business, a lumberyard they had owned for 30 years.

At the time, Nathan was a successful sales manager for a pharmaceutical company. It's a job many people dream of and spend a career working toward. However, we knew the next rung on the corporate ladder involved moving to the company's headquarters on the East Coast.

One evening when Nathan and I were talking on the phone after his performance review with his boss, I blurted out, "Let's move back to Wishek."

There was silence on the other end of the phone. Finally, Nathan said, "Really? You want to do that?"

I did. I've always said the lumberyard makes Nathan's eyes sparkle. His dad is one of his best friends. Their strengths and weaknesses provide the necessary balance to run a successful business. More importantly, I wanted to root our family in a rural school, community and lifestyle.

When we expressed our desire to return to the family business with Nathan's parents, we expected them to be excited. Initially, they were hesitant, but later, after listening to our motivations, they embraced the idea. Together, we became business partners and were given the opportunity to share everyday life.

I didn't understand their initial hesitation then — but I do now.

First, there was risk — financial risk, career risk and the risk of failure. Second, they didn't want us to make this move for them. It had to be what's best for our family. While we couldn't see all the reasons why we believed it was the right move, we felt it was the leap we needed to make for our son and future kids. Third, which went unsaid but is a valid point I see now, I don't think Nathan's parents raised their kids in a rural community and small-business career environment for their kids to return to it someday. They desired to launch their kids into higher educations, careers and goals that allowed them to experience life beyond rural North Dakota. In reality, though, Nathan's parents set the foundation for their kids to reach all those experiences and milestones, which brought Nathan (and me) back to what we love most.

Today we can look back and see we could have failed. The shift involved a lot of tenacity and prayer, and it still does. It involved living on less, working longer hours and finding ingenuity to try new things to grow our business while relying on four decades of knowledge.

When challenges arise, Nathan likes to joke, "Remember, this was your idea."

Technology played a huge role in our success despite the risks. My former employer allowed me to work from a home office, 180 miles from the headquarters, because of broadband, high-speed internet. That technology provided the foundation for my career based in rural America and allowed me to find my voice in social media, blogging as well as marketing our business.

Don't let the fear of the unknown hold you back from going after a big dream. Set goals and chase after them. Get the education you need and the experiences to expand on your education; put your business acumen to work; and build on your connections while leaning on others for support.

My in-laws serve as role models and mentors. They've welcomed us as the next generation in our family business. The shift has involved sacrifice, hard work, cooperation, a willingness to learn from one another and, most of all, the drive to succeed as a team.

We're better together as a family and a business based on the risks we took 10 years ago. The support of many helped make it happen. Thank you!

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