Over the last month, we have been gathering and sharing fascinating insights and inspiration on entrepreneurship from the perspective of mothers and now fathers to coincide with the celebrations of their special days. Their tips and anecdotes are universal in their application and we’re incredibly thankful to all those who contributed to bringing them to life.
Being a proud father of 4 (yes 4!) beautiful children, I have really benefited from all the words shared by our 11 entrepreneur fathers below (and by all the amazing mothers before them).
Fatherhood has made me value, more than ever, the power and importance of teamwork. From my amazing wife (who makes everything possible for our family) to the talented team at 99designs (who I’m so lucky to work with on a daily basis) to our amazing global community of designers (who allow us to create great design for people around the world), teamwork and a caring team and community have been critical to our success and the most rewarding part of our entrepreneurial journey.
Leaving a legacy
Entrepreneurship isn’t only about the immediate gains; it’s about paving the way for a better future. And with kids in the picture, this future means more than ever.
My career is no longer about my own path, but more about what I am going to leave behind for my kids.
“What really gets me up every morning is that I know that every order that’s placed is a positive action taken to combat Climate Change. We plant a tree with every order, we offset our entire carbon footprint, we use sustainable materials for all of our products and we’ve planted over 500,000 trees to date. Those trees are about my children’s future, their children’s future and the future of our planet.”
“Having my son was the first time in my life I felt this overwhelming sense of his comfort, safety, and basic needs taking absolute precedence over almost anything else. And for some reason, that mentality transferred to Picky Bars as well. It became easier for me to push for better deals, be more aggressive against threats and more proactive about protecting the best interests of the company. I don’t think I became a jerk, but it’s the first time I felt there was something more important at stake. I think it made me a better business owner.”
Work smarter, not harder
Balancing a happy home and successful business isn’t a cake walk. With work piling up, it’s easy to get sucked into the hustle and be tempted to work insane hours to make ends meet. Resist the temptation! These papapreneurs found the trick is to work smarter, not harder.
“Don’t be afraid to restructure your day. I’m now getting up at 5am and leaving the office at 4:30pm. This gives me time to pick up my daughter from kindergarten and spend quality time with her and my wife until the little one goes to bed. In the beginning, I was nervous to leave the office this early but in the end I think it made me even more productive.”
“One of the key skills that you have to develop when taking on parenting & entrepreneurship at the same time is to knowing how to instantly shift your mindset at certain times and being mindful to where you are. When I’m at work, I’m at work. When I’m with my wife, I’m with my wife. When I’m with my kids, I’m with my kids. No phone, Facebook or email. Be present and give whoever you are with your undivided attention. Hustling and family life are possible — just work hard on The Switch!”
“The first time I heard that I was going to be a dad, I remember noticing that I drove a little slower that day. That is definitely a metaphor for how I look at my work these days. I now have lots of little people who depend on me to get them from point A to point B. I have to be more measured and more careful in everything I do. I have traded risk for security. But you know what? I now have something worthwhile to secure, so I’m good with it.”
“With three kids under five, I am usually knee-deep in either colouring pens or Lego, water pistols or nappies, or all of the above simultaneously. Add a full-time job, a personal website, and trying to keep fit into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a very full plate! This means I need to be super productive—by working smarter, not harder—and ridiculously well-organized. My kids make me even more driven to succeed. But true success for me isn’t wealth. It’s enjoying what you do.”
The value of empathy
It’s been said that empathy is the force that moves businesses forward. As parents, we develop an acute awareness for others’ needs. Allowing this mindfulness to translate into the workplace makes for stronger leaders and better businesses.
“Being a father has taught me the value of empathy: understanding, and more importantly, sharing the feelings of others as if you experience them yourself. Developing empathy is critical to being a great parent, spouse, and colleague.”
“Intentionally, my wife and I built our house 5 minutes from my office so I could be home at a moment’s notice if anything came up. Not many people have a short commute like I do, but everyone has had to, or one day will need to, drop everything at once to take care of a personal matter. Being a dad, and experiencing everything with my family from health complications to successes at school, has taught me to be empathetic in every situation. It’s not enough to just care about business results – you have to care personally about the individual.”
Inspiring our kids to dream
Mentorship comes hand-in-hand with fatherhood. Our actions as parents undeniably influence the way our children see the world. Putting in the work to realize your dream as an entrepreneur not only helps your own dreams come true, but it inspires your kids to start dreaming, too.
“Our twins were born three months prematurely and weighed only two pounds each, right when I began a startup accelerator that was located two hours by car. I cried every day during the accelerator and woke up at 2am every morning from the stress of my kids being in the NICU and grinding away to build a minimum viable product in time for demo day. Through sheer grit I was able to complete the accelerator and raise over $300,000 to launch my business. It’s important for my kids to know they can be successful doing whatever they want in life; this is why I grind so hard.”
“The biggest thing is that I showed my 2 boys it’s never too late to pursue a dream, and if you do what’s required, not just your best, it’ll help you fulfill that dream.”
What Vincent’s son John has to say:
“My dad invented a gardening tool and I helped him launch it on Kickstarter a few years back. Now it’s a business we both run together. He was a 30 year career landscaper and middle school teacher and I went to business school and always dreamed of starting a company. His dream turned into my goal.”
“Every father is an entrepreneur, given stewardship to build and nurture a culture of love and growth in his home. Fatherhood is the hardest, but also the most refining, enriching, and rewarding work in my life. The lessons of fatherhood, including being more self-aware, vulnerable, humble, and open and honest in my communication, have tremendous influence on how I conduct business. I’m deeply grateful for my father, my grandfathers, and all fathers whose inspiring entrepreneurship into fatherhood has influenced their families, homes, and businesses for good. Happy Father’s Day!”
Father or mother, we’d love to hear your stories of how parenthood has affected the way you approach business. Share your thoughts in the comments or tweet us @99designs.