As a small business owner and serial entrepreneur, I understand the dedication it takes to make a business succeed. There is an undeniable time commitment and hustle most don't see from the outside. Owning and running a business are two different things. Many people can own a business, but few can actually run one. I have been an entrepreneur since I was a teenager. I see business ideas in almost every aspect of my life, but I understand there is only so much time in a day to follow these ideas.
I am currently on my second business, which I consider a success. My first one was built from the ground up and quite successful for a one-man show. After four years of pushing the limits and working with very little sleep, I realized it was time to throw in the towel. My business was my life, and it was affecting my health and my marriage. I sold parts of my business and shut down the rest and I still believe it was the best decision of my life.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit Beckons
I really enjoyed my time away from the business. It was refreshing, but the itch returned quite quickly. There is no prescription to stop this itch. The only solution is to start another business. I learned a lot of what not to do with my first business, so I have changed some with the second. I am sure my wife was not very happy when I told her I wanted to start another business, but she understands this is my passion. Running a business is what drives me. Actually, it is what drove me.
Most would think the first priority of any business owner was the bottom line. You can't have a business without revenue. Well, you can, but those don't last long. We start businesses with the end goal to make money. Really, that is what we all do. Yes, some want to change the world, but they can't run their business without money, so that becomes the focus.
In my first business, money was at the forefront of my mind. I was following it and striving for it. I did anything I could to make more. This obsession is what lead me to excessive stress, health problems, and pushing my marriage to the back burner. I knew I needed to change how I ran my second business.
Fatherhood Changes You
I launched my business a few months before the birth of my son. I knew I only had a few months to get the business off the ground and push toward my goals. Unfortunately, I was falling back into the old routine again. Working late, not seeing friends and family, and pushing my marriage to the back burner.
Then my world changed and everything was turned on its head. My son was born and it was the greatest thing to happen to me. I was now conflicted with the desire to fulfill my passion for business and my need to be a good father. If I would have let my old habits get the best of me, I would have focused on my business. Luckily, age and experience has finally kicked in.
My First Priority is My Family
A new passion has entered my life and it is my son. While some expect fathers to not have a huge emotional attachment to their children, I do. My son puts a smile on my face at any time during the day. He makes me want to be better and strive for better things. I want to provide for him, but I also want to be there for him. It can be difficult to accomplish both. Years ago, I would have told you my priority as a business owner is the bottom line. Now, I say it is my family. Why?
I built my business to allow myself an outlet for my passion, but also to provide for my family. Without either one the business crumbles. I choose to focus on my family and run my business in the background as my priorities have changed. Many ask me how I handle both and the answer can be difficult for some to understand.
I am connected to my business at any given moment, but when we are all home or together, my focus is on my wife and my son. I might check an email here and there depending on the urgency, but I am playing, cleaning, cooking, giving a bath, and reading books. I am focused on something other than work. That alone is the most rewarding for me.
When my son is in bed and after my wife and I eat dinner together is when I start working. I try to wait until she goes to bed before I start being a business owner. Some days are better than others, but I am working toward being a father and husband first and a business owner second. This is my new passion and one I plan on following. The juggling act will always be hard, but practice will only make it easier.
You don't hear much about the work-life balance of men. We are expected to keep pushing for more and provide for our families, yet our feelings are rarely taken into account. I work hard to provide for my family, but I want to work harder to be with them. I am far from perfect and I don't pretend to be, but I would drop my business in a heartbeat if I needed to. I only get one chance to be a great husband and father and I want to succeed at this challenge. This time, my business is taking a back seat!