When every person on your startup's core team is a parent, work-life balance is a welcome and omnipresent factor. This week, in advance of the Father's Day weekend, I've been thinking in particular about fatherhood and what it has in common with entrepreneurship.
Quite a lot, it turns out. And though there are similarities and parallels between entrepreneurship and motherhood, and parenting in general, I can appreciate that dads bring a spin to the equation all their own.
Last month, as a Mother's Day post, I considered what being a parent has taught me about running a startup, from taking advantage of "found time" (even when it's just 20-minute windows), to the value of partnerships and collaboration, to the advantages of not being the expert.
This week, in honor of the dads on our team, I'd like to share 3 different takeaways (one for each major stage of a startup's lifecycle) that I see them put into practice as they balance their contributions at the office with their responsibilities at home.
The Early Stage: Testing the Mettle
The dads in our startup help to create: they do it every day at the office, and every day at home. They helped to create the business in the first place, and they played a very important part of breathing life into it. Like being a dad, they don't do this alone, but it also couldn't be done without them.
Expanding the metaphor works at the most pivotal stages of a startup's life, too. Dads need to be there at the beginning, for example, when both partners are tired, when it's inconvenient, when it's another late night and another early morning without much sleep in between. That's when mettle is tested early on, and it sets the tone for what's to come on the journey ahead.
Growth and Development: Modeling Behavior
I see the dads in our startup show up when someone else makes a mess. I see them modeling how they want the growth stage to go-- especially the trial-and-errors-- as they help to create the culture that everyone in our ecosystem will learn.
It's a lot like modeling behavior for kids. If the dads are messy, the kids will learn to be messy. If they're considerate, the kids will learn to be considerate. If they procrastinate, the kids will learn to procrastinate. If they are mindful of their own health and wellness, the kids will learn to be mindful of those things as well.
You can easily see the cross-over, between how a dad parents and how they help to lead a new business. The business, and our kids, mirror our postures of how we relate and work with others.
Maturity: Relying on the Foundation
The dads in our startup have helped to generate the business in the first place, and they've nurtured its growth every step of the way. They've also witnessed its evolution, and are alert to its maturity and direction in life. They recognize its weaknesses. They encourage its strengths. They're excited when it's well-received, and they flinch when it's rejected.
I see them steering its development accordingly. Most importantly, however, they remember that this business (like their own kids) is its own entity. Even though they helped to create it, it lives and breathes on its own. Eventually it will determine its own path, as it engages with the world around it.
As our business continues to grow and mature (and as our kids do, as well), I'm fascinated to see how the dads in our startup will react and adapt as the business grows older. Will they adjust to unforeseen circumstances, even if those circumstances steer the business away from what they've always envisioned? Or will they find flexibility, and trust that the foundation they've provided is sound?
Personally, I vote for the latter, as someone who's had a front-row seat to that foundation that the dads in our startup have been building all along, both in the office and at home.
Happy Father's Day, dads. I am grateful for you.