Danny Boice is the Founder and CEO of Trustify, a new service that lets consumers order a private investigator on-demand to verify anything or anyone. Prior to Trustify, Danny founded Speek, which patented a new way of doing conference calls without annoying dial-ins and PINs. He was also appointed as Entrepreneur in Residence to the United States under President Obama and has taught at Georgetown University as an adjunct professor. He and his wife Jen live in Washington, DC with their five children.
Balancing family and startup life is tough. When you have kids — especially a newborn — you may go weeks without a full night's sleep, while still running on all cylinders as your new business gets its legs. Although these might be big days for your company — important meetings with potential investors or a test run of your new website — there are still important family activities to balance.
According to Pew Research, more than half of working American parents with children under 18 feel that it's difficult to balance work and family. As the father of five children, including a six-week-old newborn, I've gone face-to-face with the delicate balancing act of parenting and entrepreneurship. Through a great deal of trial and error, I've figured out a few strategies that might help you find balance.
Be Insanely Organized
I’m a hyper-involved parent in every aspect of my kids’ lives. I coach their sports teams, volunteer in their classrooms and go to all parent-teacher conferences. At the same time, I'm running a new business that is trying to disrupt a $5 billion industry. I've got a team to inspire and customers to please.
How do I keep it all going? I'm hyper-organized, almost to the point of being OCD. Every morning, I create my to-do list, which includes both professional and personal tasks. I prioritize the list, and then execute on it with discipline.
I also plan out my days in my calendar, and I vehemently defend how my time will be used. I am very deliberate about which meetings and calls I will take, and I make sure that family obligations, school involvement and personal exercise stay in no matter what.
Find a Solid Partner and Do Your Share
My wife is amazing: She is simultaneously running a charity, taking care of our newborn, helping to maintain the kids' schedules and supporting my business efforts. Her efforts keep me on my toes, and I end up working hard in my personal life and on my business just to keep up with her. I highly recommend having a partner who pushes you to do your best.
At home, we divvy up the responsibilities in a fair and equitable manner. For example, if she’s cooking, I'm washing the dishes. I believe it's especially important for dads to share the domestic responsibilities. It strengthens our marriage, leads to a more organized home and helps our daughters grow into the kind of capable, smart women who will start their own companies someday.
Don't Think of It as Being Selfless
Going to school activities while working 80 to 100 hours a week will push almost anyone to the edge. When you're that exhausted, the best motivation is to remind yourself how important these things are for your kids' well-being. I consider it my job to make sure my kids have every opportunity to succeed, and that means sacrificing so that I can put them first.
My own upbringing wasn’t perfect, but as a father I’m working to raise happy, healthy children. Watching them grow and learn is a reward in and of itself, and is worth more than a quick-growing business.
Ask for Help
The old adage ‘it takes a village’ has never been more true, especially for entrepreneurs. My wife and I are fortunate that we have the means to hire outside help, which eases the insane schedule of children and work.
We know other parents who are lucky enough to have help from extended family, and some who rely on neighbors. Whoever it is — don't be afraid to ask for help. Likewise, lend a hand to the parents around you. Supporting each other does not make us bad parents or bad entrepreneurs. Sometimes, we just need someone to lean on (whether for help with our families or help with our businesses).
Focus on the Results
At the office, I’ve hired a solid team of hardworking professionals who I can trust. I delegate when appropriate and I don’t micromanage, leaving more time for me to focus on the important decisions that will grow my business and strengthen my family.
Likewise, I promote a ‘get stuff done’ philosophy. Results are all that matter, not how you get them, how much time it takes, or where you got them done. Our team works like maniacs, but we’re also flexible. We’re working from our laptops for a little bit before we go to bed, or making work-related calls while walking to the grocery store. I rely on tools like Slack to coordinate our workflows and communications, and limit the amount of time wasted on unnecessary email.
The balancing act is more complicated than it has ever been, but the tools and strategies I’ve mentioned above have helped me build a successful business while maintaining a rewarding family life. It’s not always easy, but that makes the end result even more rewarding.