The 40-hour work week doesn't exist in the startup world. Some days you might find yourself pounding away at your computer before the sun is up and other days you're working well into the late evening. The absence of a regular schedule might not affect an entrepreneur who lives by him or herself but throw a family into the mix and there's likely to be some conflict of interest in living schedules.
It's having to decide between taking my kids out on a Saturday or putting in the extra hours to get my startup business off the ground. It's the occasional argument with my wife about who's supposed to pick the kids up after school even though I know it's my turn but I got caught up sending my hundredth email of the day and lost track of time.
Juggling the responsibilities of an entrepreneur and a family person isn't easy. Entrepreneurship involves long days, job instability, and an adventurous mindset that most people trade for a more conventional and stable lifestyle. However, there are a lot of entrepreneurs with families, and many are able to balance their two seemingly separate lives. It's not easy, nor is it necessarily pretty. Sacrifices have to be made on both ends, though there are some perks. Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of balancing the entrepreneurial life with the family life.
The Good: You're Setting A Great Example For Your Kids
One huge positive of being an entrepreneur is that you can set an excellent example for your kids. Teaching them the value of hard work and determination is invaluable, and they're lessons that last a lifetime. If kids are raised seeing innovation and creativity take place everyday, they're going to embrace these values, especially if their example is a parent. Kids need a strong role model in their lives; without one, they struggle to understand their passions or to find direction.
Entrepreneurs are more than capable of being a role model for their kids because they have countless lessons to teach. Always listen to other people. Don't write others off after initially meeting them. Hard work pays off. It's also an opportunity to encourage your kids to chase after their dreams, no matter how impossible they might seem. There are a million more lessons, each as valuable as the last, but the point stands - being a parent and an entrepreneur isn't easy, but the benefit of imparting certain lessons to your kids is hugely beneficial.
The Bad: You're Going To Have To Choose Between Them Occasionally
Unfortunately, despite the positive aspects of being an entrepreneur and a family person, there are some negative parts that take a toll on your family life and your entrepreneurial life. Situations will arise in which you'll have to set one identity aside and focus on the other. Of course, when it comes to family, nothing is more important. However, you're going to have to figure out how you can allocate your time and resources, and the answer isn't always fun. It feels like a matter of having an hour to complete two forty-five minute tasks -- one of them just won't be possible. Thankfully, as time goes on, the balance become much easier to maintain, so it's not all bad news.
Establish your priorities to make it easier (and here's a hint: important family matters are always number one). Keeping open lines of communication with the rest of your family will also simplify everyone's lives in the long run. Remember, your family supports your endeavors so it's crucial that you keep them in the loop as your journey continues. Just practice being the best entrepreneur and the best family person you can be, and the rest will develop naturally.
The Ugly: 40-Hour Work Weeks Would Feel Like A Part-Time Job
That brings us to the ugly part of balancing your work life with your family life. Most people work nine-to-five jobs, come home, and spend time with their families. Entrepreneurs aren't afforded that luxury. There are times I'd love to spend Friday night eating dinner and catching up with my kids, but realistically that's not always possible. A forty-hour work week feels like a part-time job to entrepreneurs. They work long hours thanks to travel, meetings, networking, and more, and that means they don't get home until later than usual. You never know when you're needed at the office or if there's an urgent crisis that needs fixing.
To add more ugliness into the mix, they typically have to work from home, too. It feels as if there's never enough time to take breaks and relax. That said, there's a reason why this is ugly and not necessarily bad. Entrepreneurial ventures are an opportunity to build a better life for your family, making those long days worth the effort. Sure, it's not easy, nor is it always fun. However, it's an investment in your family and their well-being, one that pays off with satisfaction, love, and overall happiness.