It isn't easy to start a new business. It takes a lot of time and attention and effort. So does parenting and being part of a family. So how does one balance starting a business with raising a family? Both demand so much of a person, and it can be difficult not to get lost in one to the detriment of the other.
Ambitious parent entrepreneurs who tirelessly strive to achieve both personal and professional success have discovered that work-life balance does not always mean both in equal amounts every day. You may be passionate about starting your business, but that passion might not always make it easy to focus on your business while trying to raise a family.
"I tried to do everything and be everything that I was to everyone before I started a business," said Becky Torrez, who owns a BrightStar Care franchise with her husband in Las Vegas. "It is a recipe for disaster and the most surefire way to become miserable. If you want to be successful in the ever elusive work-life balance, you need just that, balance. There are some times that my focus is more on my work, others my husband, friends or kids, and sometimes I need to focus on myself."
Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney, co-founders of paint-and-sip franchise Painting With A Twist, met more than a decade ago while volunteering at their children's school and came up with the idea for their business. The company is now the number one paint-and-sip franchise, and it was a lot of work to get there.
"Over time, I realized I could be a great boss one day and a great mom the next day," Maloney said, "but rarely both in the same day."
"Anything is possible," Deano said of the challenge of starting and running a successful business while being a present parent. "Follow your dream and don't be afraid. Tell yourself 'I can do that, I am going to try it.'"
If you're planning to start a business while raising your family, here's what successful working parents do to balance these two important parts of their lives. [See Related Story: 6 Ways to Improve Your Work-Life Balance Today]
Balancing your business
Delegate. Lara Olson, founder and chief creative officer of Kidcreate Studio, said realizing that she was not the only person who could do things was a freeing moment. The "real" way to do something, she said, is not the only way to do something.
"Take control of your day," Olson advised. "Don't let the day control you. It's OK to say no and guard your availability."
Her best advice to other entrepreneurs is to prioritize and simplify, simplify, simplify.
"Prioritize your staff training and spend the time needed to make them comfortable," Olson said. "Cross-train. The more others can do, the more time you have to do things that you need to do."
Be present where you are. Encourage others to respect the time you are at work so you can give it your full attention, and then give your family your full attention when you are with them.
"When I'm at work, I try to be at work. My kids don't call me 100 times a day," said Torrez. "They know I'm busy. They know that if they need something, absolutely call, but they also know if they call me to tell me they're fighting over whose turn it is to clean the cat box, it will not be a happy conversation."
Take time for yourself. There is nothing wrong with getting your rest and taking the time to exercise. Be healthy, both physically and mentally.
"I have certain rituals in the morning," said Deano. "I keep a routine, both at home and at work. Don't carry both with you all the time. I like to travel too; it helps me keep my focus."
Be OK with making mistakes. Not every decision you make is going to be the right one or a good one, and that's OK. A mistake is a way to learn and a way to grow.
"There is always something new to balance," Maloney said, "and perfection isn't possible. Push through thinking it all has to be perfect, and realize that it is OK to not be perfect all the time."
Balancing your home life
Tips to balance things at home are most often mirror images of the tips to balance work — the how is just a little different.
Make family time a priority too. Taking care of your family, being at a child's games or events, and spending quality time with your spouse is just as important as being at the store, meeting with the accountant or traveling to meet with a client.
"I have a really great team. I don't want anyone on the team working 60 hours a week," said Torrez. "I don't want to do it and they shouldn't either. There are always going to be busier times than others, but those need to be the exception rather than the rule."
Find a support system. It is sometimes hard to battle the perception that owning your own business means you can do what you want when you want. In fact, there is never a time when work isn't around you, just as there is never a time when you aren't a mom or dad. Finding a support system within your family is important.
"My husband is my biggest cheerleader," said Olson. "He does what he needs to do so I can do what I need to so when we have family time, it is all about family."
Balancing home and work life can be a challenge. Realizing that not everyone can be everything all the time allows you to set reasonable expectations and forgive yourself when one area or another seems to fall behind.
"It's a bit of a roller coaster," said Olson, "but when it feels balanced, it makes you feel invincible."