Blog > 11 Tips For Being an Entrepreneurial Parent
Posted By Create
Family comes first - especially when your children are very young - but what if you could be a great parent AND still achieve your dream of starting a business?
Running your own business requires not just dedication, persistence and hard work, it also takes blood, sweat and tears; in many ways it’s a lot like bringing up kids. Juggling both sides of life is no easy task, so here are our top tips on how to make it work for you and your family:
Running a business and looking after children can be exhausting. You need to manage your time efficiently to avoid burning yourself out. Take a moment every week - perhaps on Sunday evenings - to sit down and plan out your business priorities coming up next. Order them from most important (think business critical) to the least, and make sure you manage your time to hit what you absolutely need to get done.
Have clear business objectives.
It’s easy to be lax when you’re starting a business from home, but you should treat it like any other career move. What do you want to achieve? Why? How will you do it? What will the financial impact be if you do? What will the financial impact be if you don’t? How can you keep your business afloat, and how can you grow it? Every objective - and therefore everything you do - must be done for the benefit of your business. When you’re a parent, you don’t have the luxury of not making every hour count.
Sarah Petherick, who runs her own life-coaching service with a Create website, says: ‘Remember it is your business - you are the boss - so you decide where your business takes you. Create a personal mission statement which reflects your values. This will be your compass when making important decisions, e.g. how much time you spend with or away from your family, what lifestyle you are working towards and what really matters to you, your family and your business.’
Set weekly and monthly goals.
As you would with any business plan, break up your big goals into smaller steps in the right direction. It’s great to be ambitious with your business - and your life! - but at the same time, this can be overwhelming and therefore off-putting in the time you have. If you only have 30 minutes after the children’s bedtime, split up big tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces to make sure every minute matters. You are one person: remember to make sure your workload is manageable so you hit your goals (and still enjoy what you’re doing).
Manage your time
Look at the time you have between fixed commitments (like getting the kids ready for school, driving them around after school activities, family meal times, etc). How many hours of total kid-free time do you have per week? How can you increase this effectively (without breaking into your sleep or quality time with your partner or friends)? When managing anything you have to think about what matters most: children obviously come first, but can you afford to spend a whole evening binge-watching Netflix?
Pat Flynn, blogger and founder of SmartPassiveIncome website, realised the importance of efficiency when juggling work and family: ‘In my head, wasting time while working became wasting time that I could potentially spend with my kids, and suddenly I felt bad every time I went down a YouTube wormhole or started something that directly was not helping me achieve my goals.’
Divide your time
Decide how best to spend these hours. For example, say you have 10 free hours in the week. This gives you 2 hours per weekday to devote to your business, and leaves you with free weekends to devote to family time. If you treat each hour as two 30 minute slots and assign one task to each, you’ll find you achieve more than if you don’t plan ahead.
Get Started Today
Designate different tasks to different days
Life as a parent can be hectic; it’s a good idea to implement a routine wherever you can. One idea is to have ‘themed’ days for your different business tasks. For example: Mondays for budgeting and paying bills; Tuesdays for admin and chasing up emails; Wednesdays for marketing and research etc. As Aristotle said: 'We are what we repeatedly do'. If you stick to your self-imposed schedule, over time it'll become a habit just as making sure your kids have brushed their teeth.
It’s a good idea to designate separate ‘family time’ and ‘work time’ Give your full attention to the moment - whichever you’re doing, make that your sole focus. If you’ve agreed to watch a movie with your oldest daughter, focus on that movie until the final credits. Unless it’s absolutely business critical, your emails can wait.
It might be tempting to try and do everything at once, but it’s much more effective to tackle one thing at a time. For example, trying to respond to emails while updating a budget spreadsheet and source new products for your online shop? All at the same time? Think again. Do one thing at a time and do it well.
Combine business with family time
Peter Gasca, entrepreneur and advisor at StartUp Co., says: ‘For me...becoming a dad has made me more attuned to the happiness of my family, friends and colleagues, and it has taught me empathy and compassion. It has made me a better entrepreneur.’
You don’t have to see business and family life as strictly separate. You may be surprised how each can help the other. Get your kids involved. Designate little tasks that they can, for example, help with:
- Coming up with ideas - especially if you’re selling children’s products, who better to help with your marketing research?
- Packaging deliveries if you sell a product
- Admin tasks - filing, addressing envelopes etc.
- Helping with product inventories
If your kids are very young, it’s still great for them to feel involved - even if they’re just quietly watching while you make phone calls, it’s a great idea to introduce kids to the world of business and money management, and for them to understand the reason why you’re at your computer in the evening. You’re a great role model for doing this: let the kids see you in action when it’s appropriate.
Make time for yourself
It’s easy to put yourself at the bottom of the pile underneath your children and your business. Make time for yourself to do something relaxing and fun every single day. Run a bubble bath, watch TV with your partner, have a glass of wine with a friend… Whatever you enjoy doing, make time in your schedule for it. So often we can waste hours looking at social media with no purpose: notice when this happens and swap those minutes for something that benefits you in a positive way.
Be proud of yourself
Bringing up kids while running your own business is a fantastic ambition to realise. Things will take a little longer to get going than if you were child free, and sometimes your business plans for the day will have to go out of the window in favour of family time, but this is all part of the trade-off between being a parent and an entrepreneur. Above all, you should be proud of every little achievement. Include the kids in your successes - go out for ice cream to celebrate your first sale etc - and be proud of everything you achieve.
Ultimately, much like anything in life, it's all about achieving balance. It's no mean feat - as Michelle Obama said: ‘Work-family balance is fragile. You realise that with a blink of an eye, that balance is thrown off.’ Don't worry if things don't go perfectly according to plan; stay positive, stay focussed, and have fun!
Starting your own business online means you can be at home and can enjoy spending extra spend time with kids. Earn money and further your business career without missing their important milestones.