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 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.
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:
- More time.
- More freedom.
- More flexibility.
- More control of my life.
- Less responsibility.
- Been further along in my career.
- 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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.