Being an entrepreneur is difficult enough on its own, but when you throw some kids into the mix, it can feel completely overwhelming. Balancing the demands of running a business with the responsibilities of being a father, requires careful planning, prioritization, and flexibility.
In this post, we’ll explore the challenges of balancing fatherhood with entrepreneurship, and offer some tips for success.
The Challenges of Balancing Fatherhood with Entrepreneurship
One of the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur and a father is simply a lack of time. Running a business can be a full-time job, leaving little time for family responsibilities. This can be especially difficult if your business requires travel with time spent away from home or long working hours.
Another factor to overcome is the stress of juggling family responsibilities with the pressures of entrepreneurship.
Many entrepreneurs feel like they need to be “on” all the time, constantly working to grow their business. This can lead to sudden burnout and feelings of overwhelm.
Finally, there’s the guilt factor. Many fathers, me included, feel like they’re not doing enough for their families, or that they’re neglecting their parenting responsibilities in favor of their business. This can create a sense of inner conflict and make it difficult to enjoy either role fully. Throw a bit of social media use into the mix and you’re set for disaster!
Strategies for Balancing Fatherhood with Entrepreneurship
One of the most important things you can do is to identify what’s most important to you and focus on those things. Make a list of your top priorities, both in your business and your family-life, and focus your time and energy on those things.
It will help you stay on track and avoid getting overwhelmed by trying to do too much.
Time management is key when balancing fatherhood with entrepreneurship. Set boundaries, delegate tasks, and use tools to stay organized. Make a schedule for both your work and family responsibilities, and stick to it as much as possible. Use technology to streamline your work and save time. I like to use Clickup for day-to-day tasks, my Google Calendar, and Google Sheets to name a few.
Flexibility is essential when juggling both fatherhood and entrepreneurship. Be willing to adjust your plans and make changes when necessary. This may mean working odd hours, taking breaks during the day to spend time with your family, or shifting your business priorities to accommodate family needs – I often finish work around 3-4pm when the kids are home from school, and then start working again in the evening when they are in bed.
Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Entrepreneurs and fathers alike need to prioritize self-care to avoid burnout. Take time for hobbies, exercise, and relaxation. Practice mindfulness and stress reduction techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises.
Personally, I love to go surfing – At the time of writing this article I have just got out of the water – for me it’s the perfect blend of mindfulness, connecting with nature, and physical exercise – I love it!
Build a Support System
Don’t try to do everything alone. Build a support system of family, friends, and colleagues who can help you with both your business and family responsibilities. Maybe look at hiring a babysitter or nanny, delegating tasks to employees, or simply asking for help from friends and family.
TOP TIP: Join business groups in your niche.
I am part of a few different groups and while I don’t have the ability to connect in person (most of the people are spread across the globe) having a group of people to bounce ideas off of is vital, and knowing someone is in your corner gives me a huge sense of solace.
Involve Your Children
Find ways to involve your children in your business and make them feel like they’re part of the journey. This could be as simple as letting them help with small tasks or as complex as starting a family business together. By involving your children in your work, you can create a sense of shared purpose and make them feel like they’re part of something bigger.
When we were running a brick-and-mortar store some years ago, my kids would often ‘help’ unpack deliveries, stack shelves, and so on. While the tasks often took longer than if I were to do it on my own, I think it allowed my kids to take an interest in what daddy was doing all day (well, not all day!). As a result, it was easier for them to comprehend why I wasn’t with them on weekends for example – I was working in the store.
It’s important to set boundaries and communicate clearly with both your family and your business colleagues. Let your family know when you need to focus on work, and let your colleagues know when you need to focus on family. This often helps you avoid conflicts and manage expectations on both sides.
When you’re spending time with your family, be fully present and engaged. Put away your phone and other distractions and focus on the moment. As easy as it is to write, the reality is very difficult. However, if you can step up to the plate, it will help you make the most of your time with your family and create deeper connections with your loved ones.
The Four Burners Theory
The Four Burners Theory is a concept that suggests that our lives can be divided into four burners or areas of focus: family, friends, health, and work.
The idea proposes that to succeed in one or more of these areas, we may need to turn off or reduce one or more of the other burners. It’s often used to illustrate the challenges of achieving work-life balance and to encourage individuals to prioritize what’s most important to them.
If you are going full-on with two of your burners, the other two burners are going to suffer. So, in order to live a fulfilled life, be mindful of all of your ‘burners’.
Real-Life Examples of Balancing Fatherhood with Entrepreneurship
Many successful entrepreneurs have found ways to balance their business and family responsibilities. While not completely groundbreaking, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, took a two-month paternity leave after the birth of each of his children. The point is, even while running a huge company, he took the time to connect with his loved-ones.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has a “two pizza rule” for meetings, meaning that if a team can’t be fed with two pizzas, the meeting is too large and should be split up. This helps keep meetings short and focused, allowing Bezos to spend more time with his family.
In addition to individual examples, some companies are prioritizing work-life balance for their employees. Outdoor brand Patagonia offers on-site childcare, flexible schedules, and paid time off for new fathers. Buffer, a social media management company, has a fully remote workforce, allowing employees to work from home on their own schedules so they can spend more time with their families.
Balancing fatherhood with entrepreneurship is no easy feat, but with careful planning, prioritization, and a willingness to adapt, it can be done.
I think it’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and what works for one person may not work for another. Use all or some of the strategies above, and put your own spin on them.
With a bit of luck, you’ll not only achieve your goals in both areas but also enjoy a more fulfilling and satisfying life overall. So, don’t give up on either role – with a bit of effort and dedication, you can excel in both!
Matt Hapgood is a father, surfer, and entrepreneur. He has worn many hats in his career, from being a removal guy in Vancouver to teaching elementary kids in the UK, as well as a parking valet in the French Alps. He’s the founder and main contributor to MattHapgood.com and is currently living in the Algarve, Portugal.