How to combine entrepreneurship and great parenting
Most of us, as entrepreneurs, will face numerous challenges. Itís often been my conclusion that the best entrepreneurs are those individuals who are able to overcome difficulties and always maintain a positive mindset. Although that may sound like rather a simplistic view, thereís no doubt that having a strong focus on success is often the key to getting great results.
That may, however, be easier said than done. When youíre struggling to get your children ready for pre-school in the morning and wondering about how to make your mortgage payments, that dream of operating a thriving business can seem a long way off. You may decide that other entrepreneurs simply havenít had to face such a level of difficulties in the past.
Taking a positive approach
My own experience of founding businesses and talking to other professionals suggests that there are actually more similarities than differences between successful people. You may be surprised to learn that even those who are now incredibly wealthy were once struggling with the same issues. They too wondered about how to manage a business and a household.
Itís also perfectly natural to have insecurities surrounding the job that you are doing as a parent. Running a business is almost always time-consuming, particularly if youíre looking to achieve something really special. In some senses, I would almost liken the experience as being akin to having an additional child, vying for your attention. There will be times when you feel like your business is actually taking up too much of your time and that your children are missing out as a result.
Numerous experts will tell you about the best way to raise your own kids, but I think the reality is that your intuition is probably your best guide. You know that your children respond best to spending time with you and that quality time of this nature can offer positive experiences. By the same token, you canít be on hand every second of the day.
It seems to me that many business owners fall into the trap of feeling guilty about spending too much time at work, or of doing the exact opposite: neglecting the business and spending too little time in this area, as a result of wanting to be a good parent.
Balancing each day
What I would say is that thereís absolutely no point spending every waking hour at work, if that leaves you with no time to really enjoy life. Your children certainly wonít thank you for never being around, even if you feel that you have the very best of intentions. In your own mind, you may be working towards bringing them a better future. Itís all too easy, however, to neglect the importance of the present.
So does this mean that you should work the bare minimum? Iím certainly not arguing for this either. Before you allow that guilt to overtake you, when thinking about the hours that you work, remember that your ability to create and build an enterprise will be setting a fantastic example for your own children. I often notice that most entrepreneurs will have real role models in place and that parents can be a source of inspiration in business, just as they can in other areas of life.
If your children take an interest in your work, then you should certainly embrace that. You can get them involved in what youíre doing and explain some of the tasks that you undertake. Donít be in too much of a hurry to bore them with details though, unless thatís in response to genuine enquiries!
Make an effort to review your schedule every week and to ensure that thereís enough time in there for your family. When you spend a day with your kids, make sure that youíre really dedicating time to them too. If you actually find that you are responding to emails, or making work phone calls, then I would question the value of that time.
As ever, allow intuition to be your guide. If you are doing well at work, but your children are missing out as a result, then itís likely that youíre already aware of this situation. Itís simply a matter of acting upon it.
(image source: Flickr Creative Commons)