Guest Post: If you are a parent and are thinking of starting a company, I have good news – you already have the world’s best entrepreneurial experience: you are running a family without any previous experience or a manual! Do you remember the endless questions you had when you (or your partner) were pregnant? Do you remember the anxiety you felt at your baby’s first doctor visit? Do you remember the pride you felt when your baby walked for the first time? Running a start up, in many ways, is very similar to running a family. The hardest part is to figure out how to make time for both. The answer (unlike execution) is surprisingly simple, prioritize, prioritize, and prioritize.
Your first step was deciding to start a company, hopefully something that makes you leap out of bed every morning. Your next step is to figure out your top few priorities, and deprioritize and potentially cut out almost everything else.
For example, one of my top priorities is to create a meaningful relationship between my kids and their family. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time or the budget to plan many vacations. My tricks for staying close to the family is to leverage technology.
- I’m lucky that my car has Bluetooth so I make most of the calls on my way to dropping kids off at school. My daughters love being part of the conversation and my family adores hearing from them. I love that I get to feel close without it taking up additional time in the day. If your car doesn’t have Bluetooth, try putting your phone on speaker, it works surprisingly well.
- In addition to regular calls, we use Joya (www.getjoya.com) to easily send videos of our kids to our closest family and friends. Thanks to the power of video, our family can feel like they are there when my daughter is learning to ride a bike. Or when my little one is eagerly “eating” yogurt by spreading it all over her face J. My kids also LOVE getting videos from their cousins and friends.
- I use kids’ art projects for packages to send to family. I typically have 1-2 hours every morning with my girls. During that time we will usually do some sort of creative project. I love www.tinkerlab.com for really simple art ideas. On project days I ask the kids who they are creating it for. Then, when they are done, I put it in an envelope and send it off. My kids love thinking of various family members, putting the stamp on the envelope, and “writing” a special note (i.e. combination of letters and scribbles J). The best part is then getting a video back of the family opening up their special letter.
In my experience, running a company and a family require a deep commitment and attention to how I’m living my life, almost on a moment-by-moment basis. To be clear, I don’t believe that living a balanced life is a goal. To me it’s about living a consciously unbalanced life, being careful that nothing gets dropped for too long. Much like when a baby is first born, when you first start a company, it needs extra care. So, that means you have to find ways to simplify, cut or get help for other parts of your life, and then over time everything gets adjusted.
When I think back to when I was pregnant and talking to my Mommy friends, I felt so scared, so unsure of how I’ll manage being a working Mom. I was truly in awe of my friends who were doing it. And then I became a Mom and then I had my second kid. It was hard but life adjusted and now I can’t imagine it any other way. I think it’s same when making a decision to start a company. Yes, it is scary, and yes, it’s hard. And it’s also worth every precious minute.
Guest post by @vladab :
Vlada co-founded Joya (www.getjoya.com), a mobile app that makes it delightful and easy to share mobile videos. Previously, she co-founded and sold AdNectar, a VC-backed ad tech company.
Vlada majored in computer engineering and art at Northwestern University. She has 10+ years of professional experience as product manager, designer and entrepreneur, building mass-impact products including MSN Messenger and Hotmail.
Vlada is also a proud Mom of two little girls who are the inspiration behind Joya. They pushed Vlada to dream about making staying in touch with family feel magically effortless, and so Joya was born.