I’ve been blessed. I’m a dad and an entrepreneur. That makes me a fatherpreneur. While I certainly don’t have as much experience being a dad as I do an entrepreneur, I’m learning this dad thing as I go, and loving every minute of it.
I’ve also learned, ever since my son (Logan) was born, that being an entrepreneur gives us advantages in fatherhood.
I wrote this article for all you entrepreneurs out there who are thinking about starting your own family, or already have one. And, If you are like I use to be – an entrepreneur who is worried you can’t be a dad and run a business at the same time – then this is especially for you. Rest assured, entrepreneurs have been training, through their daily work routines, to be wonderful fathers. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve been molding yourself to become a father – you just may not have realized it yet.
When my wife was about 4 months pregnant with our son, I started to get a bit jittery. What I mean by that is for the first time in my life I was stricken with a sense of parenthood responsibility. In just a few months, I would have this little baby fully dependent on me – in every facet of his life. No joke, this scared me. After all, I was still a momma’s boy myself. And as shameful as it was to admit, I could count on one hand the amount of meals I had prepared, from start to finish, that qualified as being edible, in my entire life. With that pathetic statistic in mind, I thought, how the hell could I take care of a baby and maintain my business as well as the romance with my wife?
I felt like I was in over my head, and something had to give. As I’ve now learned from other fatherpreneurs, this is a totally normal paranoia, and perhaps needed. It was a wake up call which led me to search for answers.
So, around that 4-month mark in my wife’s pregnancy, when the jitters were ever present, I decided to call my mentor. He is an extremely accomplished entrepreneur, has a wonderful family, and a deep faith. He is a fantastic role model and someone I’ve always gone to for important relationship and business advice. In that conversation, I told him that I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to do all three… I feared something had to give.
I didn’t understand how it was possible that someone could be a great dad, loving husband and successful entrepreneur, at the same time. Certainly I couldn’t continue to take the same financial risks (I invest in a lot of startups, making my business inherently risky) now that I would be a father, right?
My mentor explained to me that he felt the same sort of questions and doubts of his own ability before he had his first daughter. But he soon realized that being an entrepreneur would in fact help him be a great dad; and that being a great father would improve his business acumen.
You see, as entrepreneurs, we are accustomed to multi-tasking, dealing with pressure and managing our time as efficiently as possible. We may not realize that we are good at these skills, because they are done without thinking, but we are – otherwise we wouldn’t survive as entrepreneurs. And these skills, I can now attest, are needed in order to be a great dad.
My mentor also explained to me that after having his daughter, it improved his focus and propelled his ability to dissect the truth from the bullshit. He would no longer waste time in meetings that he knew weren’t going anywhere. He explained to me that you stop wasting time with dead end business stuff because you’d rather be at home with your family. Naturally, you become more choosey with how you spend your time and with whom, after becoming a dad. This, inevitably, attracts productivity, honesty, and the right people to do business with.
Motivation: Simply put, nothing in the entire world will motivate you to succeed more than your children. I draw, on a daily basis, insane amounts of motivation from my son. I want to succeed so that when he’s older he recognizes the value of hard work, looks up to me, and most importantly, wants to strive toward his own dreams. I want him to think big, be independent, and I want to be his example.
Ever since Logan was born, my energy level and aspirations have never been stronger. He has made me a much more goal oriented entrepreneur with a clear and concise focus on how I am to achieve those goals.
Time Management: I thought I was a pretty good manager of my time before Logan was born. My days were very productive. However, after becoming a father, I realized that I could be even better at time management and improve my overall efficiency, simply because I had to.
Prior to becoming a dad, a regular work day was about 13 hours long, and I worked 6 days a week. Sure, I got a ton of stuff done, but had limited time for much else. With Logan in this world, and given that the little man needs to be fed his breakfast at a precise time, dropped off at day school and then entertained and tickled at around 7pm nightly, by yours truly (those are my duties), I can’t afford to be working 13 hours per day, nor do I want to be. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of all invention; and I realized (after Logan was born), that many of my daily business duties could be outsourced.
So, out of desire to spend as much time as possible with Logan, I’ve cut my work days down to about 9.5 hours, and I rarely work on Saturdays anymore. I’ve learned to delegate tasks, and solely focus on the parts of my business that I should. Not only has this given me more time with my son, it just makes sense. It allows me to focus more on innovative aspects of business, sales, and the fun stuff of entrepreneurship.
Having a son has forced me to trust in others and find talented people to take on some of my workload. I know what you’re thinking, by the way. You’re thinking, ‘okay Aaron, that all sounds great, but what about the cost of hiring the people to do the extra work?’
You ready for this?
I’ve made more sales this year than I did the year prior to having Logan. My time is spent more productively, and revenues are up. The costs are a blip in comparison to the return.
Logan forced me to outsource, and it has paid off in my quality of life and bottom line. I should have been delegating more from day one.
Flexibility: You should always take advantage of being an entrepreneur. It gives you a flexible calendar, so to speak. This is extremely valuable when you have a family. For example, how many of you know a father who missed his kid’s football game because of work? Perhaps it was your father… or perhaps you missed your kid’s football game because of work.
As entrepreneurs, we can plan ahead and be flexible in our scheduling. This is an awesome benefit of the job. If you have children, you absolutely must capitalize on it. Having a flexible schedule is invaluable!
Role Model: Entrepreneurs typically love what they do. And an entrepreneur’s passion for life and challenges is contagious. I can’t wait for Logan to see how much I love what I do for a living so that he can understand the importance of enjoying his career, whatever that may be.
So often, as they get older, kids are pressured into going to college and taking certain courses so they can get a ‘good job’ when they are older. We all know how many of those so called ‘good jobs’ work out.
I have nothing against going to college; I attended college (‘attended’ being the operative word), but I want Logan to follow his passion, which is precisely what I did. If he sees my enjoyment in the work I do, it will translate into him following his own passion, not the status quo.
Is it challenging being a dad and an entrepreneur? Of course. Both roles are challenging on their own. Naturally, when you have to be both, you’ll go through ups and downs. There are moments where balance in life is elusive, but it’s nothing you can’t handle as long as you’re aware.
I fail in my dad duties from time to time, but here is the thing… I’m learning and getting better. I pray for guidance, and just as in business, I learn from my mistakes so that they are never repeated.
The hardest thing about being a fatherpreneur – at least for me – is separating work from family time. I’m a workaholic, and was always connected prior to my son’s birth. Now I’m learning to disconnect (i.e. put the iPhone away, no iPads around) once my work day is over. That discipline is coming easier than I thought it would, and it is actually very refreshing to not always be checking my phone for emails from clients all hours of the day. Rest assured, if someone is emailing you, it isn’t an emergency and can wait until tomorrow morning.
Don’t think that you’re giving your child undivided attention if you’re checking your phone every ten minutes. They’ll pick up on your distractedness, and they deserve better than to play second fiddle to that glowing box.
My mind is often racing. Whether I’m thinking about a new business idea, or if I’m reviewing the due diligence I conducted the prior day on a new startup, it seems to always want to churn. In order to be a better father, however, I’m learning to tune out work stuff when I’m with my boy. While not perfect, my improvement on this front is making the time I spend with Logan that much better. Being around Logan gives me an uncontrollable smile, and that, my friends, is priceless.
[Tweet “True wealth is measured by the happiness within your home.”]
I’m a fatherpreneur. And while I’m not the perfect dad, not by a long shot, I’m learning and getting better by the day. If you’re in the same boat as me, I hope this article has helped. True wealth is measured by the happiness within your home.
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