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I have 2 babies. One’s an actual child (2-year-old daughter). The other is my business.
The thing with babies is, they demand your attention. And I’ve only got so much attention to give. Particularly between 7.30am to 7.30pm when they are both (inconveniently) awake at the same time. And then there’s a wife, extended family and friends to fit in. Oh and the chores too.
It’s impossible to be a perfect parent. And it’s impossible to build a business perfectly.
But here are some things I can recommend:
1. Start young. On the business founding that is! Your risk appetite quite rightly diminishes when you have a family.
2. Build the right team. If you don’t have reliable support in the business, you won’t step away to be with your family. Even if you are there physically, your head will still be at work.
3. Co-found. Beyond building the right team, there’s no substitute for a co-founder you can rely on 100% and who shares the business baby with you. Single parenting a start-up is hard!
4. Be efficient. I used to run & cycle a lot. I now run or cycle to work instead of commuting on a smelly, crowded train. It saves me 45 minutes a day by doubling up as commute & exercise. Equally, the best money we spend each week is on the lovely lady who cleans our house!
5. Have some ‘no compromise’s. For me, that’s getting my daughter up and taking her to nursery. I also make a conscious effort to be home for story time. I won’t agree to meetings that infringe on this time. Simple. It might be different for you (e.g, not working weekends, working from home 1 day a week), but try to have something that’s concreted into your routine.
6. Consciously prioritise. One of the reasons people start businesses is to be more in control of their lifestyle. A huge part of this for me was really being part of my kid’s growing up. I didn’t want to outsource it or pin it all on my wife. So, when it comes to the crunch, I consciously prioritise my family over the business – ultimately, the real baby wins and, for me, that’s the right choice. The result might be that the business growth is slower, but that’s a choice I’ve made (and hopefully building the right team mitigates that risk).
7. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. There will always be other business ideas. It’s well documented that most successful entrepreneurs try and fail a few times first. But your children are only children once. And you are only young(ish) once.
Believe me, time flies along, and before you know it your cute little baby has become a naughty little tantrum-throwing, house-destroying monster. And no doubt I’ll blink and find she’s a teenager who doesn’t want to see me (over her friends/bedroom/latest crush) anyway. There’ll be plenty more time for the business then.