When I look back on the two years since I started my company, I’m bewildered by how I could run a business and still remember my kids’ names – save for the occasional mix-up.
Building a startup is so absorbing, with so many details to attend to, that it’s like trying to handle a giant octopus without knowing which arm to grab first. Now imagine raising a teenager and a five year old at the same time. Luckily, I have boys, who tend to be relatively low maintenance.
I involve my kids in the business. I always share my successes with my kids.
But you can’t always anticipate your kids’ needs or know how to help them solve their problems. And kids have their own octopus moments. My teenage son would come home ranting about how he wanted to transfer from his all-boys school to a co-ed one while I was eager to sit at my desk and do some prospecting for my new business. Or my five year old would want me to play with him for hours – even past bedtime. Good thing my business won’t need to go to college.
Attending to the demands of business and family is exhausting, but when it comes to choosing between the two, the kids tend to win. I think it’s the guilt. If I fail my kids, I’ll feel guilty forever. I don’t think I’d feel the same way if my company foundered. I might feel frustrated, but not guilty. And frustration is easier to live with than guilt.
So far, I’ve been able to balance these two very important parts of my life. Here’s how I do it.
I involve my kids in the business. I always share my successes with my kids. I let them know when I land a new client, finish an important project or hire a new employee. They know my employees’ names and I often show them my clients’ websites. My teen works part time for my company during the summer and my five year old has probably seen my business card and website more than a dozen times while listening to me say, “That’s mommy’s company.”
I put down my computer to spend time with my kids. I have to admit, this is hard. I’m attached to my computer the way my son is glued to his smartphone. But I force myself to shut it off now and then. I actually say out loud: “I’m putting my computer down to spend time with you guys!” This is a strategy to convince my brain to do it and to plant the notion in my kids’ minds that mommy is not all about work.
I pick up my computer to spend time with my kids. Yes, I do this. Having boys makes this easier. While they play video games or watch a basketball game or a Pokémon show, I’ll grab my laptop, sit next to them and work. Believe it or not, I think they like this.
I make time just for my business. When I’m in my office with my employees, at a client meeting or attending a networking event, I’m 100-percent there. I make sure my kids are healthy and I’ve arranged for a proper babysitter before I leave so I can focus my complete attention on my clients.
Running your own business while raising a family tests your drive, tenacity, patience and empathy. If you are persistent, and welcome it as a trial of your courage and bravery, you will feel doubly proud for having given your all not only to your kids, but also to your passion: your business.
Ramona is the founder and CEO of FiBrick Financial Services, an accounting outsourcing tax planning firm working primarily with tech startups to help them build sound accounting and finance processes that support operational and strategic goals. Ramona has over 15 years of experience as a Financial Controller for large and small companies, with a track record of successfully devising and deploying innovative strategies that enhance financial performance.Connect with Ramona