Tell people you’re about to become a parent and you’ll get bombarded with warnings:
- “Your life will never be the same.”
- “Sleep as much as you can now; you don’t know when you’ll get a full night’s sleep again.”
- “Babies are cute. Good luck!”
People make it sound like you can’t be a good parent and run a successful business. Do entrepreneurs really have to make an impossible choice?
How I balanced being a father and an entrepreneur
When my daughter turned 1, I looked back and made a striking realization: The year she was born was also the most successful year for my business to date. Here’s how I balanced business and parenthood:
I stuck to my bachelor priorities.
I still have the same priorities I had when I was a bachelor: relationships and making the world a better place by helping other people succeed in business.
Being a father didn’t change my priorities as an entrepreneur; it brought them into sharper focus. Having my daughter reminded me of the importance of the things I’m doing and why I’m doing them. Although I went on a baby sabbatical and worked fewer hours the first few months after my daughter’s birth, I never put my business on the backburner.
Both family and business are equally important for my well-being. Business is not a distraction from my family, and family is not a distraction from work. They’re both in my DNA. I couldn’t exist without either one, and I couldn’t be good in one while neglecting the other. Although they seem contrary to each other, for me, they actually complement each other.
I let my work life and family life overlap.
I run a remote team, so I work at home a lot. And although I do have an office, it’s only a five-minute walk away from my house. My daughter was with me on our team retreat, and she has attended several business conferences with me.
Don’t get me wrong. I focus on the task at hand, whether I’m in father mode changing my baby’s diaper or in entrepreneur mode putting together a launch strategy. But if I sometimes have to run a meeting with a baby on my lap, I do it. No big deal.
My business is how I take care of my family. It’s how I set an example for my daughter regarding the importance of making an impact in the world. My sense of fulfillment at work helps me to be a better husband and father, and my happiness at home makes me a better leader.
I worked fewer hours and stopped trying to work harder.
Instead of trying to get more things done in less time, I accepted that I would work fewer hours and accomplish fewer things, not try to do more in less time. I also surrendered to the reality that I wouldn’t be my most productive self when I was sleep-deprived. When I had to deliver at work after a sleepless night, I made sure I had the needed support. I also made time for a nap or an earlier bedtime.
I didn’t fight the loss of my productivity; I planned around it.
How being a father made me a better entrepreneur
So, how did my unconventional approach make me a better entrepreneur?
I have less stress and more peace of mind.
I refuse to juggle work and family. Juggling is tough. You have to stay focused and maintain your rhythm. If you break your concentration, you risk dropping at least one ball. So instead, I embrace being a father and an entrepreneur because they’re both important to me. There’s no war raging inside me, no guilty feelings or resentments. Now I’m happier and more grounded, and I make better decisions.
I hired a bigger, better team.
I learned how to ask for help, both at work and home, and I surrender a lot of control to my talented and committed team members.
It may be difficult for entrepreneurs to ask for help—particularly if we feel that we’re supposed to be the ones who have all the answers. But there were spillover benefits to doing so.
One of them was expanding my team. I recruited more people to take over a lot of the things I used to do. Now my company has a higher “talent density” and we’re creating more impact—without increasing the demands on myself.
I’m better at planning and results.
My wife is also the company’s CFO, which meant we both had to work less after the baby was born. This forced us to make better decisions about how we use our time and energy. The year we became first-time parents, our company had two big launches scheduled, so my team had to plan and execute with our limited availability in mind. We came up with good strategies to pull off the product launches, and they were our most successful launches to date.
As it turns out, people are right. When you have children, your life—and business—change forever.
And that’s not a bad thing.
This article was updated June 2023. Photo by Anna Kraynova/Shutterstock
Danny Iny is the founder and CEO of Mirasee, host of the Business Reimagined podcast, and best-selling author of multiple books, including Teach and Grow Rich: The Emerging Opportunity for Global Impact, Freedom, and Wealth.