For entrepreneurs who have dedicated their lives to scaling their companies, the prospect of becoming a parent changes everything. When you first started out, your business was likely your "baby." Now, as a new mom or dad, you are forced to evaluate how you're going to make changes in your daily routine to accommodate the stresses of family and work life.
Five parent entrepreneurs reflect on their best advice for new parents, based on their own experiences.
Switching back and forth between business and family matters, it can be difficult to focus on one in that very moment. An important business call could be interrupted by a crying newborn, or conversely, time spent as a family on a Sunday afternoon has the potential to be sidetracked by an off-hours work email.
Jennifer Mellon, co-founder and president of private investigator service Trustify, knows the struggle of prioritizing well. She and her husband simultaneously run their business while raising five children, one of whom was born one month after starting the company.
"We have learned to compartmentalize," she says. "When we are at the office with our team, we are fully present and focused on our business. When we are with our children, we are fully present with them. This means we work crazy long hours, but we have learned to find balance through presence."
Find a schedule that works for you.
"Give yourself more time off, and find balance. Knock on wood, babies sleep a lot the first few months." says Dan Golden, president of digital marketing agency Be Found Online.
"You can stay on top of tasks while focusing on your new family," he says. "I stayed home for two months after my son was born, took myself off of non-important meeting invitations, but remained plugged in to items I could turn my attention to during naptimes."
Finding this balance allowed for a smooth transition back to work once Golden returned to his office.
Enjoy the flexibility.
Unlike in a traditional 9-to-5 corporate job setting, being an entrepreneur offers the flexibility for new parents to effectively set their own hours and determine the office space that suits them best. Mark Daoust, president and CEO of online brokerage firm Quiet Light Brokerage and father of five children, believes that being an entrepreneur has helped make him a better parent.
"I am able to structure my days to be flexible enough to come home for lunch most days, to take a random day off to spend with my kids, and also give them a firsthand view of entrepreneurialism," he says. "My No. 1 piece of advice would definitely be to enjoy the perks of being an entrepreneur."
Determine what your goals are.
Josh Sprague, CEO of fitness equipment brand Orange Mud, knows from experience that starting a family doesn't always fit in seamlessly with your business plan. "I started Orange Mud when my first child was three months old, and we had a baby girl 20 months later," he said. "Great timing, right?"
Sprague believes having a new baby is like starting a business: "My wife and I found it best to set objective goals for the short- and long-term that define why we are doing this. Our objective goal was to create more time for our family. Mission accomplished!"
Put in your hours now.
Fortunately for parents-to-be, planning ahead for new additions to your family means you can put in any extra needed time at the office now, before your schedule is consumed by parenting duties.
"One of the great things about having kids is that you get many months of notice," says John Rood, president of tutoring business Next Step Test Prep. "If you are working 80 hours a week, now is the time to re-organize or re-prioritize to get back to a sane amount of work."
Rood recommends capitalizing on this time before you have children, using up as much as you can to focus on work before your priorities drastically shift: "Every business owner can fill up however much time they give themselves to work; prioritizing is a critical skill that you now have a time limit to master."