Entrepreneur Dad, Survey, Time Management, Steven Covey

Entrepreneur, Dad, Survey

1. Two Words: Compostable Plates – Savings: 40 min!

2. Shut Off _____(insert any mobile device) – Savings: 90 min!

3. Wake up Before They Do – Savings: Priceless!


Recently I conducted what is called a “Deep Dive Survey.” It’s the first of 4 types of survey’s recommend by Ryan Levesque's, a fellow StartupDad who I interviewed in Episode 34, in his book ASK.

The primary goal of the survey is to take a deep dive into your audience to try to understand their #1 single biggest struggle with regards to “X.” In my case the survey was designed to understand the #1 most significant challenge of Entrepreneur Dads (aka StartupDads) with regards to starting a business, building a business and growing a business with a family.

If you are a StartupDad, you can still take the brief survey HERE.

I’m still analyzing the answers provided for the #1 single biggest struggle but with regards to additional challenges that StartupDads are facing the results are very clear. Here’s a graph of the top 9 Secondary challenges.

Which one’s do you relate to the most?

Entrepreneur Dad, Survey, Time Management, Steven Covey


Over the next couple of weeks, I will be creating content (i.e. blog posts, podcast episodes, guides, etc.) focused on each of these challenges but for this post I wanted to focus on challenge number 6… TIME: can’t figure out how to free up more time.

A parent or not, time is something we all wish we had more of or better yet more control over. Unfortunately, like a friend and fellow StartupDad Shawn Stevenson reminded me of recently during my interview with him and Larry Hagner on The Good Dad Project Podcast (episode releasing soon),

"Time Management doesn’t exist… We can’t manage time." Time is going to do its thing, Period!

What we can and must learn to manage is ourselves!

Recently I wrote a 33-page eBook called “The Clock, The Mind, The Compass: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Time and Living Your Legacy” which you can download for FREE here after taking the brief StartupDad Survey. ;-) The overall premise behind this guide is that the key to mastering time is first mastering ourselves. In other words:

Time-Management is an Inside Job!

So let’s dive into a few strategies that we’ve experimented with and implemented in our hectic lives here at the Louis Household.

Side note: My wife is a NICU nurse and works two 12 hour shift/week, we have 3 girls under the age of 8 and all three of our girls see a specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, which is an amazing hospital but one hour away from our home, for on going treatment for gastric issues. Our oldest (7yrs old) and youngest (recently turned 3yrs old) have had a number of procedures/surgeries over the past few years. It’s an ongoing battle but it’s one that we now, by the grace of God, appear to be winning. Now combine all of that with me building my business on the side while working at Intel Corporation and now working on growing the business full-time. So like I said our household is extremely hectic…


Where do I find the time?

Here are a few things that have been working in our home and for me in the business.

1. Use Compostable Plates


When my wife first proposed the idea of using disposable dishes for our family meals I was completely against it for multiple reasons (i.e. Carbon Footprint, it’s Lazy, it’s not proper, Cost, etc.). I mean, it’s one thing to use them a few days after a big party because they’re there and just lying around. But to purchases paper plates to feed our children Family Dinner, that just seemed crazy to me.

Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t like I was brought up eating off of fancy china. In fact, we hardly ate dinner together as a family. My parents were always working and to keep us from being 100% latchkey kids they worked odd shift so one of them would almost regularly be home. Plus, it was eight of us in a 2-bedroom apartment (i.e. no dining room). We had an “eat in kitchen;” and there was no way it would fit all eight of us even if we tried.

So where am I going with this backstory?

Well, because I grew up watching shows like The Cosby Show and Family Ties where the families ate dinner together, on proper dishes, I envisioned that’s what I wanted for my future family. You see, I thought that’s what it meant to be a well put together, functioning family.

So when my wife proposed this absurd idea, two years ago, I was completely against it.

No Way, No How!

Well three kids (under age 8), starting a business and hours spent loading and unloading the dishwasher later. I decided to give her idea some consideration.

Needless to say, I married to a genius, and I’m the idiot!

Talk about a game changer. Using compostable paper plates have cut back our dishwasher loading at least by half each week. We used to run the dishwasher at least once if not twice a day (forget about summer time when the kids are home most of the day) and now we can go an entire day without using it. We end most days with it only being partially full, and if we are feeling a little lazy, we just toss the pots and pans in to fill it up and run that bad boy.

Parents Magazine: 15 Time-Management Tipstake a look at #15.


Now I know what you’re thinking:

  • That must be expensive! We are not the most frugal people in the world, and I don’t know how much it's all costing us or potentially saving us (i.e. dish soap, heating up water, energy, etc.). But I think it is safe to say we have cut back significantly on our water usage just based on the fact that our dishwasher normal wash cycle is about 99 minutes.

According to an article by “The average dishwasher uses 6 gallons of water per cycle; the average Energy Star-rated dishwasher uses 4 gallons per cycle, and their energy use ranges from 1.59 kWh per load down to 0.87 kWh per load.”

  • What a Waste/Carbon Footprint! With regards to Waste and Destroying the Plant. I don’t know if we consciously made this decision or if it’s just something ingrained in me from working at Intel Corporation for so long, but we’ve seemed only to be purchasing compostable plates I didn’t realize we were doing that until I decided to write this article.

  • Finally, you're probably thinking, those are some Lazy AS* parents! I know, I know, I had similar thought when my wife suggested it. My response to you is this: if you want more time to work on starting your business or building your business you have to make some changes.

It’s time of a change up! “Work Smarter, Not Harder.”

Not convinced? Well, give it a trial run for a week, just for dinner. If you want to do a valid test measure your current state (i.e. time spent per load multiplied by the # of loads per week = total time spent per week) and compare that with your trial run state. I would love to see what you discover. Post your results in the comment box below.

Twin Cities Moms Blog: 8 Time-Saving Tips for Moms: How To Save An Hour A Day – in this post the author writes in tip #3, “Another tip that has helped save loads of time at mealtime… This saves so much time loading and unloading the dishwasher.”


A few tips:

  • Purchase recycled compostable plates.

  • Buy bulk at BJs or Costco or

  • Use Amazon Prime Shipping: once you’ve identified the frequency in which you use up your items setup an automatic shipment through Amazon. We’ve used this in the past when we had one child in nighttime diapers, one in pull-ups and a baby. Yeah, it was REAL CRAZY in our household for a while there. So we had diapers, wipes and diaper genie refills on auto delivery. It works great and also saves time. ;-)

Chinet, Recyclable, Compostable


2. Shut Off ____ (insert any mobile device) 


I can’t live without my smartphone, and I can’t LIVE with my smartphone. You know what I mean?

At some point in time, my Nokia 5110 (possibly 6110) “brick phone” that I was sporting, like a BOSS, back in ’98 (college days at Saint John’s University) went from being just a phone to being a super sleek mini-computer that I rarely use actually to make phone calls with.

Want a bit of nostalgia checkout this cool article on the Evolution of Mobile Phones: 1995 to 2012


It so insanely amazing the built-in features that come along with these smartphones and the things we are now able to do with them. Examples:

  • Alarm clock

  • Texting

  • Mobile hotspot

  • Checking emails

  • Paying bills

  • Syncing to the cloud (i.e. dropbox, google, etc…)

  • Checking the weather

  • Collaborating with team members

  • Facetime, Skype, Google Hangout

  • 8-megapixel camera (back) and 5-megapixel (front)

  • Apps for everything

  • The internet

  • And of course, Social Media

Out of all the features and apps that are available on my smartphone when it comes to comparing what I use my phone for the most, the answer is social media, hands down! According to some recent data, I’m not the only one.

The average user logs 1.72 hours per day on social platforms, which represents about 28 percent of all online activity.


“18% of social media users can’t go a few hours without checking Facebook.”

If you stop to take inventory of yourself when you add up the few minutes here and there how much time are you losing to Social Media each day (i.e. 30min, 1hr, 2hrs)? Even before I stopped to take stock of my social media usage (aka addiction) I knew I could, and often would, spend 15 minutes or more in the morning just on Twitter. Don’t get me started on Facebook.

It was a serious addition!

Here are some of the things I’ve started noticing and a few things to look out for when it comes to getting sucked into the Social Media Vortex:

  • It’s the first thing you check in the morning, even before you get out of bed.

  • You’re social media surfing in the bathroom (i.e. hiding from the kids).

  • Checking for posts or posting during dinnertime.

  • Trying to send out a quick Facebook post or tweet while at a red light (not cool!).

  • Constantly being distracted by a new notification (on a mobile device or PC).

  • Jumping on to do one quick thing and next thing you know 10, 15, 30 minutes have passed, and you still haven’t accomplished that 1 thing.

  • It’s the last thing you do before falling asleep.

A few tips: (I provide a few more in the FREE guide)…

  • Remove social media apps completely off your phone. Yep! Delete them. I learned this awesome tip from my mentor Jaime Tardy of Eventual Millionaire, and it works. Warning: You may not be able to sustain this indefinitely, so I suggest you do this for a few weeks when you are focusing on hitting some critical short-term to midterm goals.

    • An alternative option is to turn off all the notifications for the social media apps. Here’s how: Apple & Android

  • Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock or if that’s not an option put your phone far from reach and in the direction of the bathroom. If you combine this tip with turning off the notifications, you should be up and going with no distractions in the morning.

  • Put your phone in Do Not Disturb Mode when doing important work. This one could be a little tricky, so you want to make sure you do it right. You don’t wish to miss an urgent call from the school or daycare. Follow these instructions to put your phone in Do Not Disturb Mode but still have the ability to receive calls from specific individuals. Here’s how: iPhone | Android

3. Wake Up Before They Do


I’ll be honest with you; I seriously don’t get it when I talk to parents that can’t see how much sense this tip makes. To me, this is one of those “No Brainers!”

You ever talk to someone that says, “I can’t function in the morning until I have my first cup of coffee?” That’s exactly how I feel about waking up before our girls. If I don’t wake up before they do to take care of myself and get myself in the right frame of mind, my entire morning will be jacked and probably my whole day.

Once the kids are up its GO TIME!

  • They want and need attention

  • Have to get everyone ready and off to school

  • Make breakfast and hopefully, get everyone to eat it

  • Pack lunches, etc.

Have you ever stopped to look at it? Like step out of yourself, stand back, and look at your morning routine. If you’re not waking up before your kids than most likely your morning routine is very hectic and even worse it’s the same hectic every single day (5 days a week). You’re half awake, you’re rushing, you’re yelling at the kids, you’re super frustrated, and it appears that no one is listening to a word you say. It feels like you’re the only one that knows what has to happen and everyone else is acting like this is the very first day of school. REALLY!

But again, “managing time is an inside job” you have first to concur yourself before you can change the script in your home.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein.

Don’t get me wrong for most parents, whatever! It is what it is. It’s the life of a parent; it comes with the territory. I mean, no one is getting hurt; the kids get fed and get to school on time (most days) with their homework (most days). It’s not a big deal going through this endless cycle of craziness. Based on a 2013 gallop poll, 70% of U.S. Workers Not Engaged at Work, so the morning insanity is just another part of the monotonous daily grind.

But if you’re reading this article, with a title like “3 Ways Entrepreneur Parents Can Reclaim 2 Hours, Daily” you are not the average bear, and you’re looking to shake things up, break free of the norm to become a better you and crush your goals. Right? Exactly!

So open your mind to this and here are goes some final tips:

  • Depending on how much time you need to get yourself ready (i.e. bathroom regimen, get dressed, coffee, etc.) you should strive towards waking up, at least, an hour and a half before the kids. In the FREE guide, I share some additional tips to help cut down your prepare time.

  • Dial it back a little bit at a time. Start by going to bed 15 – 30 minutes earlier and waking up 15 – 30 minutes earlier. Do that for a few weeks (depending on how much time you need to adjust) and then dial it back some more.

  • Develop a Mourning Routine. It's not part of the prepare time that I mentioned in the bullet above. It's the time you would use to, literally, get your MIND RIGHT! Get yourself Centered and Focused for the day ahead of you. Your morning routine can consist of:

    • Prayer or scripture reading (Logos Bible App)

    • Meditation (I use Calm App for guided meditation).

    • Journaling (5 Minute Journal)

    • Working out

    • Consuming material (i.e. books, podcasts, blogs) that inspires or motivates you. My collection of motivation videos: HERE

    • Scheduling out your day…


Time Management, Covey Matrix, Parents Schedule

                              Example of What My Day Typically Looks Like


In Summery… If you’re struggling to find time to build or grow your business, if you feel guilty that you’re not spending enough time with your family, and if you feel stuck in a continuous loop of being unproductive with a lack of focus then you have to make some significant changes. But the very first step has to start with you! In the timeless classic Think and Grow Rich written by Napoleon Hill he quotes poet William Ernest Henley who wrote: “YOU ARE THE MASTER OF YOUR FATE, THE CAPTAIN OF YOUR SOUL." 

In this post, I provided a few tips that I’ve personally experimented on and incorporated into my daily routine. It works for me/us some of the other things we’ve tried have not. You have to be open to experimenting, keeping what works and throw out the rest.

What’s one tip you have for struggling entrepreneur parents?

3 Ways Entrepreneur Parents Can Reclaim 2 Hours, Daily!
1. Two Words: Compostable Plates – Savings: 40 min! 2. Shut Off _____(insert any mobile device) – Savings: 90 min! 3. Wake up Before They Do – Savings: Priceless!   Recently I conducted what is called a “Deep Dive Survey.” It’s the first of 4 types of survey’s recommend by

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Today, I cheated! My wife typically works two day’s week from 7am - 7pm and on those day’s I take care of our 3 girls with no assistance.

But today, I had to cheat, I asked the nanny to come in to watch the girls for a few hours so that I could focus on writing this post and work on the final touches on the brand new website.

I’m in the home office though, which means I’m not 100% interruption FREE. The girls know that I’m here and can, literally, see me.

My office light is off so that gives me a little stealth mode action. ;-)

So would you say I cheated? Weigh in below.

Ok, on to today’s post.

The Catalyst.

Earlier this year, on Startup Dad Headquarters, I had opportunity to chat with Paul Angone: Author, Speaker and Founder of All Groan Up and he opened and touched upon a struggle that us dads face.

"It’s fun, it is so much fun. I love it I love being a dad. I love being able to hangout with my kids. But I definitely feel that pull sometimes. I’ll even talk to entrepreneur friends of mine or even guys who are working full time and we kind of ask that question, if I didn’t have kids how much more could I get done? You know when that thought sometimes creeps up, especially during busy seasons… 

I definitely wrestle with that. It’s this ongoing thing. I ask myself, how can I be everything right now? How can I be an amazing dad, an amazing writer, an amazing speaker and an entrepreneur with every thing going on? It's definitely a real struggle everyday.” by Paul Angone

Paul, thank you again for being so open, honest and for inspiring this post.

It is a real struggle we wrestle with and one we may not want to admit, at least not in public and definitely not to our spouses unless we want to be in the doghouse.

But the struggle is real and Paul nailed it:

“If I Didn’t Have Kids, How Much More Could I Get Done” 

If we dive in a little deeper, and since most individuals [including myself] focus so much on the past, the question can be rephrased as:

If I never had kids, where would I be right now, what would I have right now, how much more could I have accomplished?


Some of the implications of asking these questions are that, if I didn’t have kids, I would have:

  1. More time.

  2. More freedom.

  3. More flexibility.

  4. More control of my life.

  5. Less responsibility.

  6. Been further along in my career.

  7. Started my own business.

I’m sure there are a few more we can add to this list. But I think you get the point.

So as I was doing some research for this post I came across a number of articles that touched upon this “What if I didn’t have kids” question. Some of the articles were pretty hilarious. For example:

  • In one article, “12 Things You Could Have If You Didn't Decide To Have Kids” the writer had at #5: a 2015 Bentley Continental GT Speed. The MSRP of that bad boy is $235K, so yea… in your dream buddy.

  • In another article, “10 Things I Would Do If I Didn't Have Kids” written by a mom, she had at #1: Sleep in as late as I want and at #5: Have Loud Sex. I like the way she thinks! ;-)

Then I came across this post written Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, “The Effect My Kids Have Had on My Business.” In it he starts off by writing:

“My kids have changed me, and they’ve changed my business. It has been an incredible challenge to balance being a parent to little children and being a parent to a business too, but despite the challenges I can definitely say that my kids have made an extremely positive impact on the growth of my business and who I am as a person.” Pat Flynn

That’s more like it! Instead of focusing on what life could be like without kids (the cons) the article provided some insights into what’s possible with kids (the pros).

I only wish I had come across Pat’s article when it was first written back in July of 2013. It would have served as a huge inspiration me and I would have certainly benefited from his insights.

2013 Startup Dad was still a concept

Ah, now I remember why I missed the post from Pat back then. August 2013

Here’s why. When the article was written, although, I had already decided that I was going to build Startup Dad Headquarters and eventually take the Leap from my 9 to 5 corporate job, I had no idea how I was going to do it with a family (fairly new marriage, 4 year old, 2 year old and newborn). Also, there were the fears, doubts, and that nagging voices (i.e. lizard brain) saying, “Get real, dude! You have serious responsibilities here.”

But I knew this was something that I wanted for me and for my family so I had to figure out how to make it happen.

Have you had similar thoughts and feelings?

By the way, I took “The Leap” early this year (April 2015) and haven’t looked back since.

2015-04-09 00.24.31

Why I decided to write this post.

The discussion I had with Paul was the first time I actually spoke, out loud – not just in my head, about this struggle and it was refreshing. It was refreshing because up until that conversation I often felt guilty for harboring those thoughts and feelings.

So I knew, right there and then, that if I felt that way there must be many other dads feeling exactly the same. Therefore, from that point I decided that once I was able to free up time and get committed to consistently blogging that this would have to be my very first article.

So contrary to the title, this article is about dispelling any feelings, beliefs, and excuses about the possibility of building a successful business with children. In fact one of the core missions of Startup Dad Headquarters is to answer the question, “How can one be an awesome father, engaged, involved in every aspect of their child’s life and at the same time purse their dreams of building a business that will not only afford them the life style that they want for their family but also leave a mark on this world and a legacy for years to come?”

So hold on tight and here we go!

Can I start my own business with kids?

I’ve conducted over 85 interviews with entrepreneur dads ranging from sidepreneurs to millionaires, with one child to seven children, with newborns to college age kids and beyond and one thing is resoundingly true and that is, not only is it possible to start a business with children but being a father can actually help you to be a better entrepreneur.

Before you get too excited and start daydreaming about leaving your 9 to 5 there are a few caveats and here they are:

  1. You have to be able and willing to learn quickly.As a startup you will most likely wear multiple hats, if not all, in your business. So you have to be able to learn what you need quickly, right now, in order to move the needle forward and filter out the noise.

  2. You have to be open to change.Just as with a newborn child, every day they are growing and developing, and the same must be true with your business in order for you to be successful. Therefore change is not question of inevitability for your business, it’s a must for your business to thrive!

  3. You have to be super flexible.

Balance! doesn’t exist for an entrepreneur dad. So get that out of you head right now. Instead think of “controlled chaos.”

“I was telling you before we got on that I was doing Startup Dad Life you know, 2am waking up, kids peeing in the bed, it was straight up, here we go Monday morning we’re going to start this off right! It is a crazy… I think being a dad is intensely amazing and amazingly intense at different times. Then you throw in trying to be an entrepreneur in that as well and it’s going to be a fun, exciting, and complex life.” Paul Angone

If you can embrace those three caveats then, YES! fatherpreneurship is possible for you.

I’ve also compiled, from the 85+ interviews, a FREE guide called “9 Habits of successful entrepreneur fathers” which you can get HERE.

Being a dad makes you a better entrepreneur. 

“But you know what? I think I’m way more productive and motivated because I have kids. If I really didn’t have kids I don’t think I would get all that free time I think I would have. I’d just be lazy and I would just be the same stupid young 20 something that was wasting all the free time I had. So I just think that it seems like everything would be better sometimes but it totally would not.” Paul Angone

In Pat Flynn’s article, mentioned earlier, he touches on a few reason how having kids have positively impacted his business such as:

  1. Being more efficient. With kids your time is extremely limited so you have to cut out the waste in your processes so that you can maximize the limited amount of time you have. Once you’ve streamlined your process now systematize it and/or outsource.

  1. Making better decisions. Because mistakes are more costly with a family in tow you have to really consider your decisions wisely. This one can be very challenging because you don’t want to waste to much time over analyzing every decision but you want weigh and decide carefully.

  1. Being more patient. Hey, nothing happens fast with kids… In my house it literally takes us 2 hours get everyone ready and leave the house for anything.

Here are some additional reasons why being a dad will make you a better entrepreneur.

  1. Stronger purpose. Before I became a dad I tried my hand at a number of entrepreneur ventures (e.g. app development, startup ideas, network marketing, etc.). But none of them panned out. I would like to say they weren’t my passion but the truth of the matter is I didn’t have a strong enough WHY!

My kids gave me that strong purpose and determination.

  1. Serving others first. You can’t be selfish as a dad. Prior to kiddoes it was all about me, myself, and I. I’ll be honest it didn’t change a whole ton with I got married (I don’t recommend that either).

But once the girls came on the scene it’s like my mindset shifted over night (as you will see in the next example). It went from what I wanted or what was best for me to what they need and what is best for them.

  1. More confidence: Listen, if you can manage to sustain a little life for any length of time, by yourself, you should feel like a superhero, able to do anything, if you don’t you should.

I remember taking my first sabbatical (two months paid time off) to stay home and be the primary caregiver for our first child after momma went back to work. I was super scared those first few days. But as each day went by I began to develop my own system of doing things, we (my daughter and I) developed a rhythm, a stronger bond, and with that came more confidence. By the time our 2nd and 3rd came on the scene it was like riding a bike.

Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t a cakewalk but I had more confidence and was constantly learning, tweaking things and learning some more.

If I Didn't Have Kids, I Would Start My Own Business
Today, I cheated! My wife typically works two day’s week from 7am - 7pm and on those day’s I take care of our 3 girls with no assistance. But today, I had to cheat, I asked the nanny to come in to watch the girls for a few hours so

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