Starting a business and having kids are two of the biggest commitments you can make in life. If you’re both a father and an entrepreneur, it often feels like you’re being pulled in multiple directions at once. On one hand, you’re trying to grow a successful company to provide financial security to your family and your employees. On the other hand, you want to share every precious moment with your kids and help them to grow into remarkable people.
There are lessons here for your kids as well—valuable life skills and key takeaways from having an entrepreneur as a parent. Lessons in self-sufficiency, focusing on what matters, and how decisions lead to results. None of this is an exact science, but here are some general pointers on running a business and raising children.
Let’s start with lessons for dad entrepreneurs.
Accept That There’s Always a Tension Between Running a Business and Parenting Children
There’s never enough time to do everything you want to do. There will always be more tasks and projects to grow your business. You’ll constantly want to share almost every moment with your kids. Accepting that you can’t do 100 percent of both, all the time, is vital for your peace-of-mind.
Getting comfortable with compromise is important—whether that’s postponing a project or realizing that you need to work instead of going out for a walk with the little ones. The good news is that there’s plenty you can do to make those compromises as small as possible.
Get Boundaries in Place as They’re Critical for You, Your Kids, and Your Business
Time and attention are two of the most critical areas for both parenting and entrepreneurship. It’s almost impossible to do both of those activities well if you’re trying to do them simultaneously. This means you need to carve out specific time and space for each, and not let them intrude on each other.
- Work time is only for running and growing your business. It’s time when you need to put family commitments to one side and focus on doing the most impactful tasks for your company’s success.
- Family time is only for connecting with your children and your partner. It’s when you turn off your notifications and spend time deepening your bond with your loved ones.
You need to be confident about setting these important boundaries, so you can give all of your attention to both areas. You’ll also need to reinforce these boundaries within your working relationships and in your family ones.
Prioritize Your Business Tasks to Focus on the Most Impactful Activities
The time you put aside to work on your business needs to be as productive as possible. Focusing on tasks that have the biggest impact—in terms of sustaining and growing your company—helps you ensure your time is well spent. This means you won’t be as tempted to keep checking email or sales numbers when you’re spending time with the kids.
- Brainstorm and create a list of all the tasks and projects you need to do in your business.
- For each of these activities ask the following questions:
- Is this task essential right now or in the near future?
- Does this task help to protect, sustain, or grow my business?
- Am I the only one that can do this task?
- If you answer “Yes” to all three questions, then add the task to your to do list.
- If it’s not essential right now or in the near future, defer it.
- If it doesn’t protect, sustain, or grow your business, it’s probably not essential.
- If other people can do the task, hire someone on a freelance, contract basis to take it on.
Automation will also help you shave time off of your tasks each day. Tools like Zapier and IFTTT can transfer information between systems, while many apps have built in features that remove much of the administrative work you need to do.
Keep Examining the Balance Between Your Work and Your Kids, and Shift as Needed
You won’t get the balance perfectly right, every time. There will inevitably be periods where the boundaries blur, and that’s OK. Build in time each week to review where you are—how the business is doing, the joys and challenges of your family time, what you want to achieve in each area of your life in the coming weeks. Then, make subtle shifts to get more in control of your circumstances. Give gentle reminders to your peers or your family. Change your focus slightly, nudge yourself in the right direction.
Let’s explore what your kids can learn as they grow up with an entrepreneur for a dad.
I Can Achieve What I Want With the Right Approach and the Right Attention
The lessons of entrepreneurship—having a goal, then a plan, then a project, then tasks, and then doing them—shows you can get what you want if you break things down. Your kids will have big dreams and big goals. You can talk to them, on their level, on what they want to do, and you can build a plan together.
They can learn how approach, and skills, and attitude get you a lot of the way to where you need to be.
I Need a Strong Work Ethic and Determination to Get Ahead
Kids learn that success comes from the effort you put in. Approach, skills, and attitude are only part of success—then you need to get things done. You need to put in the effort, and that’s what turns your ideas into your reality.
I Can Love My Family and Do Well at What I Want
If you’ve managed to successfully divide your time between work and family, then so can your kids. They’ll know when they need to knuckle down and work on their own stuff. They’ll also know when it’s time to just have fun with family and friends—and, crucially, that you can absolutely do both, and have a great time with either.
You’re doing something amazing—running a business and raising a family. Be proud of what you’re doing in both areas. You’ve got this.