Being an entrepreneur is incredibly satisfying. It also takes a lot of time and energy. If you’re building and shaping a business while raising kids, you may feel like you don’t have enough time to do both right. But as many entrepreneurial parents have realized, it is possible. The key is to learn to prioritize and organize your time so that you can balance the two efforts and succeed in both.
Patrick Cummings, author of The law on balance between family and businessknow how. He left a lucrative job at the company to start a business from scratch, sensing that becoming an entrepreneur would mean a better relationship with his wife of 32 and young children while also creating a great life for them. Now as a wealth advisor, he has over $500 million in assets under management. “Running a successful business while enjoying a happy family life isn’t impossible,” Cummings said, “as long as you take steps to remain present and attentive in both your work and personal life.”
Achieving balance starts with creating space for the people who are most important to you. Once you set up your business in a way that gives you the freedom to do so, you’ll have the time and energy to give both your work and personal life the attention they deserve.
You are not your business
“The first step to creating space so you can spend more time with your family is to set up your business so you can free up time from work responsibilities,” explains Cummings. This doesn’t mean your business should suffer. It does mean that you have to let go of some control. You should run your business, not the other way around. Ideally, you are not the bottleneck in every task and decision.
If your business is in the early stages, be patient with yourself. If you’re focused on starting your business, you may not yet have the revenue to hire more staff to take over some of the responsibilities. In that situation, often the only option is to take the time to generate the income yourself.
Cummings advises that you make modest changes to your schedule. “Plan your schedule so you can come home for dinner a few nights a week, or make time to go to one of your child’s games or recitals a few times a month,” explains Cummings. “Make them non-negotiable by adding them to your calendar, and don’t book anything for them that could overflow.”
Once you get through the early startup phase, you’ll find that opening your schedule requires some control (either by hiring or outsourcing), but it’s worth it. Once you’ve accepted the need to remove yourself from the center of your business, you can make that change by finding the right people to take on additional responsibility.
Build a team that can work without you
“Start by identifying your weakest areas and hire people who are good at (and enjoy) those tasks,” Cummings advised. Focus on making the greatest possible impact in the areas where you excel and delegate the rest.
“Once you recruit and train people who will add new strengths to the team, you can hire others to bolster your strengths,” Cummings said. “A driver can also excel at changing tires, but if he changes his own wheels at every pit stop, he is definitely not going to win races.”
You may prove to be excellent at a number of tasks, but a well-run organization requires others to take on most of the responsibility. That leaves you free to focus on the big photo assets that drive the business forward. It also gives you more freedom to step away from the daily routine so that you have more time to spend with the people who matter most to you.
“Your job is to win that race and then come home to your family,” Cummings explained. To do that, you need a team that can handle it all, so you create success at home and in the office.
Create a culture of independence
Hiring a team can free up your resources to take a day off or focus on other tasks, but a team, even a great team, doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have to work. To do that, you need to foster a culture of independence. This culture is critical to avoiding being pulled away from personal time to solve problems that arise at work.
Fostering a culture of independence is a process that starts with training your team members to take on overlapping responsibilities. “These overlapping responsibilities should include everyone’s duties,” Cummings explains, as he believes that every person in the office should be able to extend their duties to cover others when needed.
“That’s how you create the space to distance yourself,” Cummings said. “There may not be one person who can do everything you do or make all the decisions you make, but the team as a whole should be able to handle everything except emergencies when you’re out of the office.”
Don’t forget to factor in growing pains as things change. In the end everyone will be comfortable with the new expectations and the new freedoms, and you will have a real culture of independence.
Make your business and family thrive
Cummings believes that structuring your business in this way creates the initial balance necessary to be present and attentive in every area of your life. Continued success, however, requires a conscious focus.
“Be present with your kids and don’t check emails,” Cummings said. “Pay attention to your partner instead of solving a business problem in your head. True letting go is more than accepting and delegating; it’s about switching your brain into family mode and making sure it stays there.” Fluttering between work and home versions of you won’t serve either one.
Remember, you are not your business. Give yourself permission to relinquish control of every decision and task. Build a team that can work without you and create a culture of independence. Once you do that, you will have plenty of time for your personal life while ensuring your business thrives.