Nobody wants to end up like a Harry Chapin song.
Ok, Harry Chapin isn’t exactly writing music anymore, but if your child ever listens to “Cat’s in the Cradle” and gets a little misty eyed, it probably means you weren’t around a whole lot. That’s not to say that working tirelessly on your business to support your family isn’t an admirable part of fatherhood. It’s to say that starting a business while being a father is hard. But, ultimately, it can make you an even better father if you do it right.
For fathers who work for others, and especially those who work in offices, being a family man is about drawing boundaries between your personal and professional life to achieve work-life balance. When you own a small business, work and life become the same thing. That may sound sad, but it is actually to your advantage. Here are a few reasons why being a fatherpreneur may make you better a better businessman and father.
Fatherpreneurs by the Numbers
A survey conducted by Business.com, nearly 80% of fatherpreneurs said they had as much or more time with their families as they did before starting their own business. Other interesting takeaways:
Only 28% of fatherpreneurs said work was adversely affecting their family life
40% of working dads reported spending less than two hours a day exclusively with their kids
Four in ten working dads reported bringing work home with them once a week or more
Entrepreneurs Make Better Dads, and Vice Versa
When you run a business, you master skills like time management, training, discipline and multi-tasking. All of which you’ll need in spades as soon as a baby is born. Fathers used to sleeping eight hours a night will be shocked by how little they sleep. Entrepreneurs know all about late-night calls to a job site, early mornings and late nights.
Being a father will also help you in business. You now have a greater motivation to succeed than anyone: providing for your children. Any man who’s run his own business will tell you his drive to create something great for his children has pushed him harder than anything ever has. But beyond being more motivated, fatherpreneurs are also more efficient. Needless meetings and endless conference calls become a thing of the past. Because when something is taking time away from your family, it gets eliminated quickly.
Being a father also teaches you to delegate. In his blog on being a fatherpreneur, Aaron Hoddinott says, “Having a son has forced me to trust in others and find talented people to take on some of my workload.” He goes on to say despite the concerns over the increased costs of bringing in new people, he made more sales in the year after his son was born than he had any year prior. To draw a conclusion, having children can actually motivate you enough to help you become more successful.
There Are No Divisions
The old adage for working parents is to make clear division between work life and home life. That could not be less true for fatherpreneurs. Because the nature of what you do requires work at all hours, you have to make your family a part of your business. That doesn’t mean putting your kids to work as soon as they’re tall enough to reach the deep fryer. But it does mean explaining your work to your children while you’re doing it.
It also means making your children a fixture in your place of business, allowing your employees to get to know them and vice versa. Obviously, you don’t want your kids interfering, but letting your children see what you do and appreciate what you’ve built gives them a greater understanding of why you work as hard as you do. It also breeds respect, and when your children see you as the boss, it may carry over into a more disciplined home life.
Children can also play an important role in innovation. In an interview with Youngupstarts.com, McCarthy Music founder and CEO, Mark McCarthy admits his six-year-old daughter Sophia was integral in the development of the company’s illuminating piano. She acted as an in-house beta tested for prototypes. If you work in a restaurant, your children can help you create and test dishes. Or if you make apparel, kids can help with design. Of course, not all of their ideas will be good, but they will definitely help you think out of the box.
Just remember, your kids are always watching. So when you might have lost your cool before you were a father, you can’t do that anymore. The air of confidence you have in front of your employees you now need to take home with you. And that can be a tough act to maintain.
Find What’s Important and Prioritize It
Finally, as a fatherpreneur, you might have a more-flexible schedule than some other dads, but you also have less time to give. Figure out what’s important in your children’s lives, and make sure those are the times you schedule free. Whether it’s a weekend ballet recital, a morning walk to school, or even just some afternoon tickle time, make sure your company and your clients know those times are sacred. Just maybe don’t tell them it’s tickle time. Much like in business, the key is prioritization.
Creation is the driving force behind entrepreneurs, and it’s that creativity that makes so many of you great fathers as well. The rules are different for you, but because you make your own schedule, have the ability to integrate your work and personal lives, and have skills that transfer from one job to the other, fatherhood may well be your most successful endeavor. Happy Father’s Day to all the fatherpreneurs out there! And to those considering becoming a fatherpreneur, know that it’s not nearly as daunting as you think.