Leadership & Productivity
What being a parent teaches you about running a business
8 min read
12 August 2019
Owning a business is a calling in life. It is an enormous responsibility and honour. The only accomplishment in life that might top it is that of being a parent.
Though it’s great to be both a business owner and a parent, balancing the two is no simple task, particularly for the small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that are in the process of actively building and growing their companies. After all, you only have so much energy, and managing that can be a difficult obstacle for leaders and parents to overcome.
There are many challenges to being a business owner while also having a family. Each is considered a 24/7 job. Your kids’ schedules can often be in conflict with yours.
Being available for emergencies, carpooling, swim meets, and more can be difficult when you’re also managing employees, responding to customers, sourcing goods, meeting deadlines… and the list goes on. Often, you’re splitting your time and attention between the two, which means neither get 100% of your brainpower at any given time.
Is it possible to do both well?
The answer is certainly yes. If you have the right attitude and strategy, having kids and running a business can be an ideal combination. Children can make you better at what you do and help keep things in perspective. While being a business owner can improve your abilities as a parent.
Here are some of the ways that having a family and raising kids can help you run your business.
1) Kids can keep your attitude in check
The wonderment and presentness of children can be refreshing for adults who get bogged down by stressors of everyday life. As a parent, kids keep you on your toes, allowing you to live in the present and not get obsessed with little things that shouldn’t matter as much.
Being more present and aware can be very beneficial as a business owner in helping you keep stress at bay, and avoid micromanaging or being difficult to your employees as a result.
2) Open up your natural creativity
As adults, it’s easy to forget the exhilarating feeling of learning things for the first time. Kids are curious about everything, and it’s a wonderful thing to witness as a parent. Bringing this innate curiosity and creativity to your business can benefit your daily operations.
Use creative strategies like icebreakers, exercises, and brainstorming sessions to challenge your teams to up their game, come up with new ideas, and innovate. Bring your children’s zest for learning into the meeting room. You’ll be glad you did.
3) Make work-life balance a priority
When you know how important it is to have time for your family outside of work hours, you can prioritize it in your leadership style. Doing so benefits not only you and your family but your employees who have families as well. There is no greater motivation for implementing work-life balance than to need it yourself.
Having a family is also an enormous selling point for potential employees with families of their own — it shows that you understand the struggle for balance and that you want to help them to achieve it. In addition, implementing policies that benefit those who have families is an effective way to retain employees for the long-term.
4) You know how to negotiate
Teaching your kids how to work out an argument, share their toys, and bond through sports and other games applies directly to your work as a business owner. You can transfer these negotiating skills to clients by closing deals and getting repeat sales. You can use negotiating skills for employees by finding ways to bring them together and maximize their productivity.
5) Stay ready for the unexpected
The phrase life happens when you make plans is most applicable when it comes to having kids.
When you make lunch plans, your child can come down with an illness, there could be a snowstorm, or you’ll just be moving slowly that day. In your business life, a sales pitch may not go exactly right, so you’ll have to adjust. Being willing to roll with the punches is a necessary skill to have as a business owner as well as a parent. Staying flexible and down to earth is key to seeing through challenges and rising above every situation.
6) Become more flexible
Raising kids is full of milestones. When they reach a new one, they’re already onto the next stage before you can celebrate. Trying to control the pacing and timing of their progress is a futile effort. Likewise, tactics that worked for other companies or products may not work for this one. The ability to be flexible and consistently adjust is the best way to grow and strategize your company’s next moves. Being flexible in review processes and strategic plans will pay off in the long run.
7) Gain perspective
Every situation of conflict or struggle comes with the choice to get upset or not. If your kid scrapes his knee on the playground, you can be grateful he didn’t break his leg. If an employee loses a customer, you can be thankful that it was minor, inexpensive, and that they learned from it. Each is a very human situation in which people skills are necessary to resolve it. Having perspective in these ways makes you more effective both as a parent and as an employer.
8) You can become a better parent
Involving your kids in your business can teach them valuable life skills from a young age. Their ability to understand finances and business operations can be very beneficial for them as they grow up and can teach them important lessons on how to be financially responsible or encourage an entrepreneurial spirit.
They can also learn numerous other skills like flexibility and the ability to think outside the box. The best way to raise future business owners is to teach them how you do it now. When they’re young, they can absorb new information better than ever.
When you treat both parenting and business leadership as opportunities, balancing these two life goals can be a challenge you’re more than willing to meet. Use what you’ve learned as a business owner to be a more patient and organized parent.
Likewise, use what you’ve learned as a parent to be a more methodical and open-minded business owner. Each can help the other in a myriad of creative and inspiring ways.