There is a belief among many new entrepreneurs that they should be completely focused on their new business, which often includes radical moves like quitting a job in spectacular fashion or dropping out of school to pursue their dreams.

The reality is that entrepreneurship is not that simple -- or pretty. Most entrepreneurs lack the resources to sustain and keep them alive for the typical 18 to 24 month startup runway.

In fact, most experienced entrepreneurs had jobs as they pursued their business ideas. Daymond John, maybe one of the most recognized and notable examples, held down a day job at Red Lobster while he built FUBU into an huge brand.

And while you may think you can subsist on noodles and bootstrap your company by starting in your garage or through business incubators, at some point, bills need to be paid and you need to eat better.

Finding balance between pursuing that which you are so passionate and earning income is even more complicated if you are married, have children, or simply have obligations that require regular gainful employment.

If you are among the majority of start up entrepreneurs at this age, getting started can be intimidating -- but it is possible. One such entrepreneurial example currently going through this balancing act is Gordon Light, a husband and father who is launching a new company, SOBAM Gear Co., while working in a full-time electrical engineering job.

Light also produces the Fit Successful Dad podcast, where he has interviewed dozens of successful entrepreneurs in this same position. Through his podcast, Light has found five commonalities, all of which he has applied to his life and new business.

1. Family First

Balancing a job, a new business and family can be a challenge, especially when only one of these pays the bills. According to Light, family must come first, or nothing else matters.

"I have found that one theme is always consistent among my interviewees: family first. By applying this and prioritizing my relationship with my family, I am constantly demonstrating that I will always show up no matter what. I have built a reputation with my wife and son as always being there, supporting and being a pillar for the family. I do this by over-communicating every day, listening intently and being fully present with them when I'm around.

By putting the happiness of your family first, you will find it benefits you in every other part of your life."

2. Prioritize Health

Too often, new entrepreneurs sacrifice their health while trying to balance their work. According to Light, your health can actually be an asset as you get started.

"Entrepreneurs I speak with always point to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Personally, I have found that your health is your power to be great. A healthy mind and healthy body make you unstoppable. I take time every single day to get exercise, and I am very conscious about what I eat, making sure that I put quality food in my body.

Taking care of your body every single day provides a mental shift because you start loving the way you feel. This feeling scales exponentially and really provides a lot of the firepower behind why and how I do so much on a daily basis."

3. Be Grateful

It is all too easy to get caught up in the negative aspect of a startup business, especially when trying to balance numerous other obligations. Admitting that you are not perfect is part of coping, but as Light has found, taking the time to regularly reflect on the positive aspects of your life is just as important.

"I have found that successful entrepreneurs are typically very grateful and optimistic -- you need to be to cope with the stress. In order to prioritize things daily in a way where I can build a business in my free time, run a podcast, work full time, and have a family, I've had to step back, reflect and appreciate what I have and as well as the opportunity to chase what I do not.

I have also learned that I have zero reason to complain ever, but rather be grateful and appreciate everything in my life. This fuels positivity and has had a massive impact on my ability to take on new challenges."

4. Work Smarter

Starting a new business requires a lot of time. Starting a new business while working a job and balancing a family requires more time than most new entrepreneurs expect. In reality, however, Light has found that dedicated entrepreneurs have no more time than anyone else -- they just use it better.

"Entrepreneurs I speak with work smart, finding and using time effectively for their business and all the obligations they have. When I feel like I'm working but not getting the result I want, I find it is usually because I was distracted or not using my time smart enough. It is in these times when I realize I need to turn off Netflix, close Facebook, and put in more work in order to see results.

Also, since work and family are typically first, entrepreneurs need to find time for their business. I usually use the two to three hours after my young son is asleep to really grind. When I travel, I will often use my time at the airport, on the plane, and in my hotel room to work on my business instead of mentally 'checked out'. Everyone has the time, you just have to make use of all of it efficiently."

5. Build Relationships

Light points out that by helping and surrounding yourself with people who have shared experiences and goals, you create a strong support system that helps strike -- and maintain -- a balance between work, family and business.

"I have never met an entrepreneur who was shy about helping others or dishing out credit. Personally, building relationships has been the key to everything I've been able to do, which come at a cost of time and hard work. By reaching out and trying to help as many people as possible, I have established relationships that have significantly helped my ability to move forward.

With every person I meet, I try to give them more of the value in our conversation than I take. This makes gaining traction possible during the day while at my corporate job, because my relationships provide the ability to put the load on others when I'm unable to carry it. Talk to everyone, give value to everyone, and be grateful for every interaction."

Light concludes that in his experience and that of his interviewees, one thing shines clear. Focus and dedication to the first three items -- family, health and appreciation -- will build a solid foundation upon which all other results and achievements will be based.

Published on: Jul 24, 2017
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