Trying to raise a family the best way you know how is really hard work. It takes a lifetime of loving, understanding, forgiving, supporting, and caring; and there’s no real guarantee of anything.
Building a business is also incredibly hard work. It takes hours and hours of planning, stressing, working, reevaluating, fear squashing, and focus; (once again) there’s no real guarantee of anything. So when you mix the two extremes into your life, there’s bound to be complications and a tendency to let one fall away while you nurture the other.
Here’s 12 ways to strengthen your family while growing your business.
- Plan your business around your family
This little piece of advice was given to me a while back and it has literally changed how I view everything in my life. To build your business is a long hard road that can will suck every bit of time and energy out of you if you let it. It’s easy to get so caught up in the excitement and momentum of building your business that family falls to the wayside without you even noticing. Chances are, if you’re building a business, it’s because you want something better for your family’s future. Always keep them first, and you’ll achieve your goal. Forget about them, and you’ll build a business that you like, but one that your family resents.
- Explain what you’re doing
We’ve all had those conversations with our spouse. You know, the ones where you try to explain your master plan and how you’re going achieve it. They look at you with complete boredom or maybe even roll their eyes a bit and answer with, “Mmhmm, that’s great honey.”
No matter how bored and uninterested they might seem, they want to know about what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to continue to share your business plan and ideas with the family. To build a business takes support. Bored or not, your family will be able to better support you when you need it if they know what you’re doing.
- Explain why you’re doing it
Not only is it important for your family to know what you’re doing, they also need to know why. There will be times when things are tough and they might not understand what the point of all your effort is for. By continuing to remind them why you chose this path, you will reassure them and give yourself the confidence to press on.
- Let them be a part of the process (if they want to)
I know I know, it’s hard to let others join in to build your business. Sure we all say that we’re open to other’s ideas, but are we really? When your spouse has an idea, don’t just blow it off because you think you know best. If your kids legitimately want to help you, find something for them to do.
Not only will this help you out in some way, but it will also reinforce to them that you do think of them first. This may seem like such a little thing, but it’s the little things that make the difference.
- Set achievable goals and reward the whole family when you reach them
This is just part of good planning. You have to set milestones and goals that you know you can reach. What’s the first thing we want to do when a goal is accomplished? CELEBRATE! Of course you need to set aside time to congratulate yourself on the victory, but you also need to have time to include your family in the partying, too. You might have done most of the work, but they’ve been the ones manning your support line and dealing with their own concerns about all the energy you’re putting into this endeavor.
- Listen to their concerns, embrace them, and talk through them
You know what your concerns are. After all, you’re in the trenches everyday. But do you know what your wife’s concerns are? Are your kids old enough to be worried about what could happen if your plans don’t work out the way you planned?
Talk with them. Ask them. Tell them to be honest with you. Many times they won’t want to tell you that they’re really scared. They don’t want to bother you with what they think are silly worries. They know they are your support and they don’t want you to have to worry about them, too.
It’s ok if you don’t have any answers. Just talking and letting them know that you care and you have the same concerns will be incredibly powerful and only bring you closer.
- Remember, they are not you
It’s easy for you to stay motivated 18 hours a day because this is your baby. Remember that your family isn’t going to share the same endless enthusiasm you have. They need a break. Don’t feel down or angry when your wife says, “I’m sorry baby, but if I hear about ___ one more time this week I’m going get all Freddy Krueger on your ass.”
- Set your work hours (and stick to them)
This one seems so simple, right? Admit it. If you say you’re only going to work until 4:00, do you actually shut it all down at 4:00? Before you answer that, really think about it. Yea, maybe you close the laptop and leave the desk, but what about that “smart” phone? For the reasons mentioned in #7 it’s important for your family to know that you can and you are willing to shut everything else off to focus on them.
- Make sure your goals align with your families goals
It’s easy to think that your goals are the same as the rest of the family. After all, you’re doing this for them. All the hard work, stress, long hours, what else would it be for? Even if everyone was aligned in the beginning, things change:
- kids get older and have their own aspirations
- the instability of growing a new business is too much to deal with
- underestimating the workload and time
- the family has grown and the goals no longer fit
- all the above
Sit down with your family (all together or individually) and ask how they really feel about the direction the family is heading. This might be a heavy question to ask your kids. Not necessarily heavy in topic, but hard for them to fully grasp and answer. You might be better off just keeping up with asking what their aspirations and interests are as they grow older.
- Remind them that your work is very important, but not as important as they are.
This one is particularly important if you work from home and you have younger kids. It may be difficult at first to teach them the boundaries, but if you’re ever going to get anything accomplished they need to know that your work time is very important and requires a lot of concentration. At the same time, they need to know that you’re willing to drop everything (without being annoyed) the moment they truly need your help.
The wonderful thing about being your own boss is that you can make your own hours. If you decide to take a day to spend with the kids, don’t back out because you were suddenly inspired to write a new blog post, create a new dish, or add a new vendor to the store. Don’t blow off your family for work. They’ll end up resenting what you’re doing in the long run.
- Teach your kids about what you’re doing as you go
To grow your business is a daily educational process in almost every area of life. As you learn these lessons teach them to your kids too. Not only is there something very gratifying and reassuring about teaching your children the lessons that you learn, it is also a bonding experience that far too many people miss out on.
- Don’t hide your concerns & roadblocks from them
You can’t expect to grow your business without running smack into some roadblocks – a LOT of them. Expensive tools will break without warning, trusted employees will turn to the dark side, sales will be non-existent, naysayers will scream NAY, and all of this will happen at the worst possible times.
Don’t hide your worries and concerns from the family. I know, this is hard. Whether it’s your pride, fear, or a feeling of needing to protect the family from worry, none of us want to tell others that things are sucking and possibly about to get worse. You must keep your family in on all of the ups and downs.
Remember in #2 how we talked about your family being your support? They can’t give you the support you need if they don’t know what’s going on. Of course, remember that they might need some support and reassurance after hearing about the crap that’s hitting the fan. These are the times that really bring you closer as a family. Talk through everyone’s concerns, develop your game plan, move forward, and build your business.
How Do You Keep Your Family First?
I’m sure you can think of many other ways to keep your family involved and close as you build a better future for them. Tell in the comments how you continue to work hard on your dreams while keeping your family first.
|Written on 7/23/2010 by Andy Fogarty. Andy is the is the author of The Entrepreneurial Daddy, where he writes about realizing your entrepreneurial dreams, and building your business while keeping your family at heart of it all. In addition, he also runs 3 other business online and off.||Photo Credit: eric.surfdude|