If you’re reading this, it’s likely you have a voice in your head telling you that you’re not a good parent. Trust me, I’ve been there. As an entrepreneur with two children, I’ve missed important milestones in their lives for my third baby, my business. This baby constantly cries for attention and although it has many babysitters, I spent the first part of my career thinking I was the only person who could keep it sane. I was a great entrepreneur, but I was not a good parent. Fast forward years of self-reflection, compromising, and major life changes, I’ve transitioned from a workaholic who chose capital over family to an entrepreneur who’s also a good parent.
Here’s how I did it, and how you can too.
Include Your Family In Your Story
I blame myself for being a bad parent because I didn’t set expectations properly. I didn’t co-opt my family into my journey as an entrepreneur. While I was accomplishing goals, they were left on the sidelines feeling like they were unimportant. It became my journey, not our journey, which unfortunately is the mistake many entrepreneurs make. Many entrepreneurs don’t recognize that entrepreneurship is a team sport, not a solo sport. To do it correctly, whether your team is your family or friends, you need to include them as part of your story as an entrepreneur.
The thought of making this transition was difficult to imagine at first. Luckily for myself, my intelligent wife set me in my place by saying, “What’s the purpose of all this money if you have no relationship with your children?” This simple statement changed the way I thought about entrepreneurship. It went from wanting to succeed for my family by myself, to succeeding for my family with my family.
Sacrifice Office Time for Family Time
Financial and professional success are key inputs but don’t tell the whole story of becoming an entrepreneur. As stated prior, the holistic version of an entrepreneur's story includes family. To be a good parent and to create that balance, a set of expectations for the family needs to be communicated and followed. For me, that meant sitting down as a family and negotiating what was important to each of us. Following the conversation, we designed a life that was right for our family and agreed to go on an annual five-week holiday to compensate for my six-day work week.
Becoming a good parent means recognizing your children are in your direct circle of influence. Their input should be a priority. Once you realize this, commit to communicating with your family, setting expectations and then doing your part to follow through.
Prime Your Children for the Real-World
The nature of work has changed. The reputation of work has changed. We’re used to being told that we’re a measure of our degrees and work experience. Frankly, that’s important, but only as an input, not an output. The output is your brand. The output is the trust and reputation you can create in society. This is created by your online presence, particularly with social media. If you think that people will just find you, you’re wrong. This is something I wish I knew earlier, which is why I’m priming my twelve-year-old daughter for a world where social media is used either in your favour or against you. If you teach your child to think of social media as a tool for communicating their personal brand, it’ll ensure they are communicating the right messages at an early age. This way, when they’re in their 20s, they’ll have the digital etiquette their peers will lack.
There is no single mold for how to be an entrepreneur and a good parent. Every family dynamic is unique, and that’s what makes families so special. It’s impossible to be perfect, so be easy on yourself. You’re allowed to fulfill your dreams and build your business as long as you take your family along for the ride.
If these tips weren't enough, check out this infographic on thriving as a busy parent.