How Parenthood Made Me a Better Entrepreneur
Posted on August 7, 2020
Parenthood or to be even clearer—Having a baby has completely changed my life and business. Here’s how.
My partner was once brutally honest with me when she told me I was too selfish to be a father. She was incredibly accurate because I was selfishly consumed by my other baby — Business, and was proudly a childless bachelor at the time.
I had never imagined myself writing this kind of a post…
In fact, I swore I wouldn’t dare share my candid experience of fatherhood, that is, if I ever became one.
Pre-baby, I was a workaholic who would dedicate every bit of spare time that I had to my business. But since becoming a father, not only have my priorities changed but my approach to business as well.
Before my partner got pregnant, I would actually frown at people who published blogs about how it felt like to be a new parent and how it changed their perspective on life and business.
I must admit, seeing my friends, peers and business partners continue to thrive through their journey of parenthood and business gave me confidence leading up to the decision. Thank's guys, for all your support!
“Give me a break. You’re violating your baby’s rights in the name of gaining page views.”
I would never ever do that.
It didn’t make sense convincing anyone that a baby is some sort of “life hack” that turns you into a more effective and productive human.
It felt so awkward, wrong and mean.
That was until Wolf was born.
To be honest, fatherhood toppled the longstanding paradigm that entrepreneurs have to choose between parenthood and business. For sure, I found them very complementary.
Back to being a father….
The first few weeks could be considered unproductive. I had to step away from my businesses almost completely, because frankly, it would have been almost impossible to juggle with both sides of my life during that period. My business partners, clients and staff were supportive and effectively forced me to take a two week break. “Thanks guys”
When I resumed, I realised that, as a matter of fact, what all other founders or entrepreneur mums and dads shared was absolutely true.
It wasn’t made up and neither was it just a clickbait. It was pure truth which I could finally relate to.
Becoming a father has been a life-changing, heart-melting, schedule-altering and mind-bending experience that has made me a completely different founder than the one I was two years ago.
On a blog whose goal is to share everything learnt along the startup journey, it can be disingenuous of me not to share the amazing things I have learned in the past year.
And in a fast-paced world, and even through the Covid 19 pandemic, where notable founders and CEOs are torn between choosing to grow their families or businesses, I want my story to confirm that there is absolutely no need to make that kind of a decision.
But first, I must apologise to those mums and dads that I doubted in the past. And those who may choose to sneer at this post trust me; I completely understand your position since I was once where you are. But I have no doubt that someday you’ll get to learn the few lessons I have.
Why Having a Baby Has Made Me a Better Entrepreneur
There are four ways in which the “entrepreneur side” of my life has been affected by fatherhood.
I have always been a fast walker and this is the same approach I use in my business, with enthusiasm and impatience that has often resulted in avoidable mistakes owing to a rushed business decision or an anxiously pursued hunch.
Your child, whether you like it or not, will do things and grow at their own pace.
Your business takes a similar trend.
Sure thing, you may work around strategies to nudge them and set them up for success.
Seeing my son hit some remarkable milestones behind or ahead of when he’s supposed to, calmed my thoughts and made my mind better.
These days I’m fully tethered to a baby boy who has scruffy hair with a pinkie grip firmer than any vice. Rather than view this anchor as an impediment, it has taught me to walk more slowly, be more patient and enjoy every moment I am with him.
Generally, entrepreneurs often rush in pursuit of their goals. What we need to keep in mind is that entrepreneurship is never a destination but rather a journey, and that we must learn patience as we gladly move along the way.
In the end, as long as you are doing all the right things as you are expected to do (and receiving some expert feedback and advice along the way), then you are sure to arrive in your desired destination.
I always believed this but never really understood or appreciated it more than I do now. That makes it a lot easier to have the patience to wait for your business to grow, and at its own pace.
2) Time Management
Look at your schedule now and shred it into pieces. The all neatly listed ‘things to do’ are rudely broken up by constant interruptions that compel you to give a bottle, change nappies or simply walk over and ensure the baby is still breathing given that you’re new to this responsibility and afraid that you could be doing it the wrong way.
At the onset, these distractions brought about a lot of stress and anxiety as I thought they would make me fall so desperately behind my schedules.
But with time, I noticed something; the things to do were still getting done.
The distractions of being a new dad weren’t really replacing my work time. Amazingly, they were replacing all the other unnecessary distractions that were there before my baby’s birth—taking a few minutes to read Twitter, check emails or my mobile phone. Those distractions became too costly and in the presence of more important distractions, the insignificant faded away.
Even more interesting is the fact that whenever I get some few and rare uninterrupted segments of time to work, my focus gets deeper since I no longer get glued to social media or entertain other silly distractions as I used to before; my son has trained me to focus on what is more important.
Previously, I was accustomed to 6-7 hours of sleep each night to function at my best. Anything less, I would struggle through my day. Apparently, that was a fallacy at the back of my mind.
Most new parents out there know for sure that the idea of enjoying a whole night’s uninterrupted sleep is laughable once the baby arrives.
But after a couple of weeks of being lucky to catch an hour’s sleep at a time, I was surprised that I could operate just right.
I realised I could tolerate more physical challenges than I previously thought. And as I got used to it, I would pull through the fractured sleep schedules and still function without a problem.
Of course, it doesn’t matter how or wherever I get the sleep—it’s always welcomed.
And as my son grows older and I get to sleep a little bit more each night, it’s an opportunity I’ll always cherish.
I have also learned that if I have to get less sleep or less comfort than I’m used to, then I really can.
I no longer worry about me — I’m no longer number one. That alone has made me more focused on what really matters rather than me.
Hey, I have a baby at home I need to provide for—so it’s no more Mr. Cool guy. I have a hungry kid to feed! There’s absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do for my son and his mum.
Having my son to take care of, and who totally depends on us for every need, has made me more focused on driving my businesses to succeed.
How to Apply This to Your Business
My greatest desire with this blog post is to let you know that you really don’t have to struggle with the decision of having to choose between growing your business or your family.
Most certainly, your baby isn’t a life hack and you shouldn’t become a dad or mum in order to gain the skills above.
But then, if you are worried that becoming a parent will interfere with your work or growing your business, please don’t be.
A myriad of things get harder, of course. But if you can learn from me, you might just be surprised that you will become a better entrepreneur, CEO or boss in the process and more equipped to handle everything that life as well as business will throw your way.