I know many entrepreneurs, whether it was a side hustle or a full-time business, who started out excited, optimistic and energized about what their business could do for their life and that of their family. Family-centred entrepreneurs who had high hopes (as they should!) to bring in a good income, travel (combining work and pleasure) and improve their lifestyle. Yet, the reality I hear so often is that people are frustrated. Not only are they not seeing these things, they wonder why they embarked upon their business in the first place.
It doesn’t have to be that way. But I can certainly relate.
In my first year of business, I had a mandate of being a family-centered entrepreneur. However, my lack of boundaries (a carryover from when I worked full-time) seeped into my entrepreneurship habits. I worked too many hours, sacrificed sleep, would forego fitness for a client request; I even accepted a speaking engagement in another province on my daughter’s 10th birthday. Sure, I had to make my business work (I had no Plan B), but the whole reason for making the change was to be more available to my family. What I was doing wasn’t working. Only I could change that.
It would be easy to think that I would have to make a trade-off. Earn less money to have more time. More family time or time for exercise. Grow small and steady and keep my ambitions at bay.
What I found, however, was that you can fall back in love with your business without sacrificing the things you want and need – a good income, a good lifestyle, a happy family. It starts with believing, from a place of abundance, that you deserve success of your own design, and that it can happen.
The alternative is that you feel resentful, exhausted, deflated. That you have no white space in your brain or time in your calendar for creativity and creation. That you let your health be sacrificed leading to problems on the short and long-term. That you feel you can never win, no matter how hard you try.
You can win. Your family can win. Let’s ensure your biz is working for YOU. (And BTW if you are reading this and you don’t have your biz open yet, no problem. I don’t want you to go through the mistakes I made…here’s the recipe to start as you mean to go on!)
Here are my top three tips on becoming and staying a family-centred entrepreneur without sacrificing profits, passion, and people-relationships:
Get clear on your priorities
When you have a request from a client, there has to be an order of priority in which you use to evaluate if that is the right client and the right engagement to accept. This includes anyone who has a side hustle in the gig economy of which we know by 2020 50% of us will be there. Here’s mine in order of what’s most important:
- Is it a family friendly fit?
- Does it fit with my expertise and passion?
- Does it pay what I’m worth? TIP: Click here for more on this topic.
- Do I like the client/company (is there an alignment in values)?
- Do I have capacity?
- Does this open the door to other opportunities?
If the answer is “no” to the first one, it’s unlikely I’ll proceed. To test it, I’ll go through the rest to be sure.
For example, I had the opportunity to spend a month and a half doing some pretty exciting international speaking and coaching work that would allow me to grow as an entrepreneur and exponentially grow my network. However, over a month away from my family, at a reduced fee, and it overlaps with a few client engagements (meaning I’d have to break my loyalty to them); by evaluating it against my priorities, it was an easy “no”. If I had tried to fill my schedule, add an exciting international twist to my biz and gain bragging rights for being on this tour, I might have said “yes”. See why it’s so important to know your priorities? It helps you when tempting opportunities and diversions arise that may be great, however, they aren’t necessarily great for you or great at that time given your current priorities.
Be open about being a family-centric entrepreneur
You want to attract clients and businesses that also prioritize lifestyle and family; by sharing that you are a family-centred entrepreneur, they may actually be more likely to want to work with you! Sometimes we worry they won’t; a scarcity mentality convinces us that we are lucky to have any work so don’t be too demanding. However, you will likely find what I’ve found, that they will respect you more for taking time to ensure client fit, that you are selective, and that you are making a conscious choice to work with them; by them knowing that you see that they are the right client, it sense an entirely different message than “I will work with anybody, doing anything.” Of course, it’s a two-way street, they have to pick you too. But why be in the running for something you don’t want anyway?
Being a family-centric entrepreneur is about being clear about what you hope your business does for you, because when you’re clear on that then you attract those opportunities. If you want to be able to travel more, if you want to be able to do creative things, if you want your family to be brought into the business more, those opportunities will become available to you.
Recently, I brought my daughter to a speaking engagement in another province. I worried at first the client would find my request, ‘unprofessional,’ but in actual fact, they thought it was a great idea! This professional association was mostly female with their demographic rapidly changing to an entrepreneurial model. It was perfect timing to have the keynote speaker share a visual message to the membership that they too could find ways to get the family involved in supporting their businesses! For us, it allowed my daughter to experience the direct benefit of my job, making her less likely to be resentful the next time I needed to travel for work, and my son is excited for when it’s his turn!
If you an incorporated official corporation, consider ways in which you can build shareholders into your business. Obtain some advice from your accountant, but what I’ve done is ensured the ‘Minute Book,’ of the corporation reflects that my nuclear family members are all shareholders. This means I can pay them for work they do in my business (e.g., shipping orders, putting handout packages together and editing videos.) Check out my friend, Tim Packer, a talented artist, who now has his son doing videos and social media full-time!)
Even if your family isn’t on the payroll, they likely give you business advice, support and help as needed, so you may choose to cover business meals and travel (we have included that we will have up to two Shareholder Meetings at a location inside or outside Canada in our corporation’s Minute Book to make it official and above board.) It gives us a reason to get away from our house, from the office, and take stock on important things like: what’s working and what’s not, what should be the priority projects for the year, review last year’s financials and project the upcoming year, and evaluate how well the business is working for everyone. Just don’t forget to record who you met with, what the meeting was about, and, if it’s a big expense, evaluate your profits against the expense to see if you can justify it! Again, I’m not giving you accounting advice as that’s not in my scope of practice; I’m just sharing what I’ve done.
This is what I do in my business to stay family-centred. Not only does it make my family less resentful of my business, they’re thrilled that my business is growing and successful. I love my business so much more because I’m not fighting against two worlds. You can be a family and lifestyle centred entrepreneur too (maybe you already are!) It’s not one or the other. It’s not career/business or family/lifestyle, it’s a both/and. Enjoy the best of both worlds. And that doesn’t mean it’s perfect all the time. If you strike the right balance 90% of the time you’re doing great! And the result: you’re satisfied and your business thrives.
Want to chat about how you can start or evolve your business to be more family-centred? Jump into my calendar for a 15-minute chat!