How To Build A Business While Building Your Family
If shag carpeting, Spirograph, and Farrah Fawcett’s feathery hairdo played a role in your childhood, you likely also encountered a Stretch Armstrong or two. Yes, nothing proved more enjoyable than grabbing an arm belonging to this gel-filled, muscle-bound action figure with perpetually clenched fists and pulling with all your might. While his severely stretched arms gave 1970s’ youths something to laugh at, Stretch Armstrong, himself, likely loathed being pulled in two directions. The victim of a human tug-of-war.
As a busy entrepreneur, you frequently find yourself in Mr. Armstrong’s predicament, torn between the demands of your new business and your young family. Yes, you often feel stretched to your limit.
Fortunately, you are not venturing where no man or woman has gone before. Many budding entrepreneurs have discovered ways to be a fully present parent and a successful businessperson.
When it comes to fulfilling two competing life roles, time is definitely your most valuable asset. Therefore, it is important that you make the most of every hour.
Own a day planner and use it. This last part is the most important–and, unfortunately, the most overlooked–part. Schedule your appointments of both the business and personal varieties and don’t forget to book off time to spend one-on-one with your kids and your significant other. If you fail to block periods of time and dedicate them to a specific activity, you will find yourself multi-tasking and not giving your full attention to anything.
Scheduling is important, but you must also remember that, sometimes, things do not go according to plan. You need to remain flexible–like Gumby. Write your appointments in your book in pencil and, always, be prepared to make changes and implement Plan B.
You cannot do it all alone. Even super heroes have sidekicks. So, there is no shame in calling in reinforcements for backup in either your personal or professional life–or both.
Your spouse can prove to be a valuable ally in your quest to have it all by helping out with business-related tasks, child care, cooking, or household chores. And, remember, your children are also perfectly capable of taking on age-appropriate responsibilities. In fact, it will be good for them to learn the value of teamwork and a job well done.
Furthermore, anyone who adheres to the “if you want something right, do it yourself” rule is likely heading down the path towards stress-related health issues. Instead, identify tasks that can be easily downloaded onto other shoulders and entrust your people with these duties.
Plus, you may wish to consider outsourcing certain errands. Inc.’s “The Ultimate Balance: How Top Execs Juggle Work, Family” recommends taking advantage of the myriad of convenient tech-driven, app-driven services at your disposal like TaskRabbit, Google Shopping Express, Amazon Fresh, Seamless, and Munchery to easily run errands without ever leaving your house.
If you expect yourself to be a perfect parent, an unerring employer, and a sublime spouse, you are setting yourself up to fail–flawlessly. Perfection doesn’t exist, so stop striving for it.
Nor can you do it all. You are just one person with only one set of arms and legs. The Washington Post‘s “Mompreneurs Share the Secret to Building a Business While Raising a Family” advocates, instead, that you decide what your priority items are and, then, focus on them and forget the rest. Not only will you be better able to focus on the tasks that really matter, but you will also enjoy the satisfaction of accomplishing your daily goals more often.
Think of the Savings
Maintaining a positive outlook can make the challenges of building a business while building your family much more palatable. Stretch Armstrong likely took great solace in knowing that his arms would return to their former shape. And you can take comfort in the fact that you are building something for your family’s future.
Plus, there are many economical benefits associated with being self-employed. Not only do you enjoy tax write-offs, but as “Adoption Questions about the Costs of Raising a Child” adds, if a parent works from home, they can save on child care expenses and, perhaps, enjoy a lower tax bracket too.
The truth is that humans are not meant to be tugged in opposing directions. We are not made of rubber. And, when exposed to extreme pressure, we seldom stretch–but, instead, snap. So, stop suffering in silence like your childhood friend, Stretch, and make some changes in your daily life. Your family, your business, and your overburdened arms will thank you.
What was your favorite childhood toy? Why?
About Author: Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer and avid blogger whose Barbie whiled away her time with three adoring G.I.s, all named Joe. You can follow her at The Embiggens Project.