How to Grow Your Business While Raising a Family

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6ppjLRby1c

In case Stella’s cuteness was too much to watch, lets recap the video

Plan your business around your family

This is the most important piece of advice I give to everyone who works with me. 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 that goal. Forget about them, and you’ll build a business that you like, but one that your family resents. If they resent the business, they resent you.

Explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it

We’ve all had those conversations with our wife (or husband if that’s your thing ;-)). You know, the ones where you try to explain your master plan and how you’re going make it happen. They look at you with complete boredom or maybe even roll their eyes a bit and give you a not so enthusiastic, “Mmhmm, yeah, that’s great honey.”

Sound familiar?

No matter how bored and uninterested they might seem, they DO want to know what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to share what your doing to grow your business with the family. It takes a lot of support to build a business. Bored or not, your family will be able to better support you when you need it if they know what you’re doing.

It’s not just important for your family to what you’re doing, they also need to know why. There’ll 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’ll reassure them and give yourself the confidence to press on.

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, right? All the hard work, stress, and long hours. What else would it be for? Even if everyone was aligned in the beginning, things change.

Sit down with your family regularly(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.

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 we get something right? CELEBRATE! So do it. Take the family out to celebrate or give your significant other a romantic night (or weekend) away.

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’ve put into your crazy ideas.

Now It’s Your Turn

Tell us in the comments how you manage your family and business?

What’s worked for you and what tips do you have for folks just getting started?

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Andy Fogarty is the force behind Destination Thrive. He specializes in teaching smart business owners how to turn the business they have now into the thriving business of their dreams. He's an Atlanta, Georgia boy, where he blogs, hangs out with his wife and two girls, plays with Alice "The Wonder Dog", and plays guitar.

Comments

  1. Alysse Hennessey says:

    Great article. So many people think that everyone has it easier, that they have more time, or more money or more experience. It’s good to see more business articles that include family.

    Yes, self employed people work “all the time”, we rarely feel done for the day, and our kids need us too. The real us. While I’m not in the studio every single day, I do need to check on my business, communicate with customers, write articles, or in some way interact with my sites every day. I work hard to create a balance.

    I plan out my day the night before. I work on the things that require large chunks of time, or quiet, or time in the art studio, while they are in school. (No getting caught up in surfing the web!!). I love getting them after school- that our time together. I give them my full attention as we walk home together, have snacks and play. I save some simple tasks that I can do on my lap top for homework time. Like answering customer questions, or reading those saved articles on the web. I can easily multi-task while we are all working on our independent projects.

    Staying organized with my time is the key. When I fall off the organizational wagon, I have to make up for time after they are in bed, and that can lead to burn out for me. I try to stay focused.

    I also love sharing my business with the children. Luckily mine is a creative business and there are often times they can often take part, or even help. It’s a great learning tool for kids.

    Yes, to celebrating your business success with your family! My business took my family on vacation for the first time last September. It was a huge thrill for everyone. Yey!!!!!

  2. I’m a single mom, working from home for most of my childrens’ lives. Now they are the most fabulous teens.

    I had the inspired action, years ago, to make my kids my business partners. I keep them updated and I split 10% of the net with them so they are highly motivated to support me in taking care of business. And they have money to experiment with using, saving, etc.

    It’s really worked. How many single moms do you know who have kids who do their own laundry, help with the pets, even shop and cook meals gladly, always asking what else they can do to help?

    Great article. I’ll share it ’round.

    • Holly, Brilliant Mommy, Batman! 10% of the net to your kids…this is one of the BEST ideas for an entre-mama/daddy. Wow, I can see how this is monumental in getting your family in-with-the-biz (and the laundry). Going to test this idea at CasaRod. Thanks, Deborah!

  3. Wow Alysse, that’s awesome to hear! Congrats on your 1st family vacation paid by your biz. It makes all that more satisfying, doesn’t it?

    I’m looking forward to seeing where you take it all in 2011. Don’t be a stranger ;-)

  4. Deborah, YOU are a shining example of what we’re trying to do. I absolutely love hearing stories like yours. It’s proof that it can be and is done.

    Thanks Deborah

  5. Loved this post because I am dealing with this and know it will be an issue when I have children!

    Right now I am having a hard time because I work a full time job and am doing projects on the side. When I get home from work every night, I always have this thought in my head that I need to be working on something, which upsets my husband sometimes. I need to find a way to balance time with him and work, but my brain is always running! Any way to shut this off?

    • Andy Fogarty says:

      Hi Mariah, I know exactly what you mean. To be honest, I’m don’t think there is a way to “shut it off”. I think the more you try the stronger it’ll become.

      I use to battle with this in my mind constantly, until I decided to stop fighting it. Really, once I decided that it was okay to let my mind think the way it was going to, it got a lot easier to enjoy “non working” time.

      I’m an entrepreneur and so are you. Are minds just don’t work the same as others and that’s okay. I did put a few practices in play to keep everything from getting out of control.

      1. I created this system (link no longer available) and use it on every project I in my business. Seriously. This has changed my business and my relationships.

      2. I know my family. I can tell when they just want attention because I happen to be in the same room and when they truly need ME. No matter how important the work is I’m doing at the moment, I will put it down to be with them. They need to know that they are more important than something on my computer.

      If you need to talk further about any of this, I’d love to chat with you.

      Thanks, Mariah

  6. Hey Andy,

    Thanks so much for this timely post. As a work from home mom, it has been very difficult for me to find that balance between work and family. Many times I’ve ended up putting business before family which just creates stress among all members of the household.

    The past several months I’ve really been focusing on being present and “in the moment” in what I’m doing. I try to work when the kids are at school so that I can “be present” with them when they get home.

    As of last September I’d, thankfully, paid off a huge debt for my business and that has reduced the stress of “how am I going to pay my bills this month” so that has helped me refocus my priorities.

    My husband’s job pays for all our living expenses and my income just supplements with the extras like vacations, christmas gifts, extra savings, kids college savings, etc. But within 3-5 years I plan on having my business exceed his income and give him the freedom to do what he wants instead of working at his “job”. :-)

    Thanks for the tips on helping create that balance. I’ll be putting them into practice for this year and the years ahead.

    ~ Jenn

    • Andy Fogarty says:

      Hey Jenn,

      Congrats on paying off the huge debt. I know from experience just how freeing that is.

      I love that fact that one of your driving forces is wanting to free up your husband from his day job. That’s a wonderful attitude to have and your husband is a very blessed man to have such a loving wife. I’m sure he’s very supportive of your ambition as a result too.

      Don’t be shy. Come back here and let us know how things are going ;-)

  7. This is a huge challenge for me. I’m a truck driver that lives on the road half of my days. I’m also trying to build my business as an online fitness coach for incredible, busy moms and dads. I get some work done when I’m on the road, but some stuff has to be done when I’m home.

    I know it’s hard for my wife and kids to have me gone and then when I get home I’m absorbed with my online business. I’m trying to balance this out.
    Hopefully I will get better at it. And hopefully I will eventually be able to quit trucking and just do the one job that I want to do!

    Action for me this week: I’ll be home 4 days. Two of those days I will take “off” and not work on my online business. Instead, I will rest and hang out with the fam. Definitely looking forward to it.

    Thanks Andy.
    Later

    • Andy Fogarty says:

      Hey Reagan,

      First off, I really enjoyed working with you towards the end of last year. You’ve the fire, man, and I know you’re close to making some big stuff happen. I’m really looking forward to seeing how your first product’s shaping up.

      I’m glad to hear you’re taking time off to just hang with the family. Honestly, I’m more inspired to do great work on the days I do nothing but chill with the Jill and the girls.

      Thanks, Reagan

  8. BTW – way to start doing video! I saw your other one on DT. Nice. I wish I had a painting as cool as yours for my background.

    • Andy Fogarty says:

      Ha! Thanks. My wife painted that picture and it’s HUGE. My office it the only room it’ll fit in and it’s actually a picture of me (which is a little conceited and weird if you think about it :-) ).

  9. Thanks for the great post Andy – the reminder is timely for me as I’m jumping fully into building a new venture.

    How to share and how much to share with my wife is an ongoing balance. She’s very concrete in style so often she’d rather not hear too much of the ideas and the plans. Mostly she wants to see that I’m in productive action. And, even better, see some results – then it’s “Real.” When I’m unsure how much to share, I just ask her how much she wants to know…

    Especially enjoyed having Stella join your post. Looks like you’re living what you teach.

    • Thanks Rikk. I’d love to hear more about your new venture.

      Just the fact that you’re willing AND try to share with your wife goes a long way, even if she’s not all that interested in the details. My wife is the same way. I can see her almost instantly tune out when I start getting into the details, but I can feel distance growing when I choose to not share.

      It’s a funny circle, huh? One thing she’s always happy to hear about is those weekly “Dude, you’ve got money” emails from PayPal :-)

  10. Andy,

    I LOVE this post – your points are dead ON.

    As a mom entrepreneur and editor of TheMogulMom.com, I know the importance of getting the family “buy-in” AND the importance of planning your business around your family. Otherwise, you’ll end up with resentful kids who feel like they have an absentee parent.

    I’m off to follow you on Twitter and check out your blog!! :)

    Heather

  11. Laura White-Ritchie says:

    Thanks Andy for the great video. It totally agree that we must build our businesses around our families, instead of the other way around.

    It’s essential for me and my clients who work from home & home educate our kids. While we don’t get that “free” time while the kids are in school, we do get so many other things. We get to truly involve our kids in our business..the thing that we’re so passionate about…a piece of who we are. We get model self-directedness for our kids.

    We also get to teach our kids how to share the spotlight. Yes, my family is the central force in my life. My hub. My air. But, as unpopular as it may be to say, they can’t always the priority. Obviously we spend a ton of time playing, reading, building, exploring together. But, kids also need daily opportunities to learn how to entertain themselves, how to be creative with limited resources and how to be self-directed. I work while they’re learning all of this great stuff about the world. It’s a beautiful thing…when it works (since the girls are 3 going on 4, it’ll work more and more).

    I especially love that we’re growing little entrepreneurial geniuses…even if the process is sometimes overwhelmingly messy.

    Thanks again for the insight & for sharing little Stella’s debut with us!

    • Great comment Laura and I’m really glad you brought this up.

      Working from home is tough when you have a family, especially one that’s home most of the day. When you add homeschooling to that too it’s not exactly a recipe for productivity and concentration, is it?

      I won’t lie. It’s still incredibly hard for me to focus at times, but it’s also a great opportunity to teach the kids that work is important and that they can use their imagination and play by themselves.

      Way too many kids are missing imagination these days, but that’s another post for another day ;-)

      I think that being able to do what you love while teaching your kids about boundaries, life, and business is worth extra effort it takes.

  12. Great article!

    I travel a bit for my business & when I announced I’d be going away for several days last June, I got simultaneous groans from all 3 of my boys. I took that moment to say, “Dudes, that is so not okay. I work for myself & I work for us. I need your support, not your groaning or guilt trips. We’re in this to-geth-ah.”

    My husband is already uber supportive but I have found what helps my boys buy in is to be mentally present for them when I am with them. If I’m mentally absent, thinking about work (or the other gazillion things to be done), our relationship suffers.
    Gini

    • That’s part of being a great parent, isn’t it? Being able to recognize those key moments when we can teach our kids important lessons.

      Thanks for taking the time to share with us, Gini :-)

  13. Great post! I had to laugh–as I watched Stella climbing over you, my 2-year-old was climbing all over me.
    Finding that balance is hard, but essential. When it comes down to it, as much passion as we have for our businesses, it’s nothing compared to our families.
    But it’s so great when we align the goals of both!

    • The funny part is I never planned to have Stella in the video. I must have tried recording that video 5 times because she kept running through my office pretending she was horse. She was asking me questions, knocking on my door, and just being kid.

      It was so on par with what I was talking about and I thought it would be funny and keep her quiet for little too ;-)

      She was VERY pleased with herself.

      Thanks, Alicia. Don’t be a stranger.

  14. This post strikes a HE-UGE chord for me — an entrepreneur running two small businesses, who until recently was a single mother, and now is a newlywed with and mom/stepmom to three children, ages 6 and under.

    (PHEW! I just got tired thinking about this!)

    Seriously, this is some good, good advice. I’d add a bit of my own advice and that is — When it’s ‘family time,’ make darned sure you are ENGAGED with your family. I want my husband and kids to know full well that I’m paying attention, focused and genuinely involved with them. This means — when it’s their time? No texting, no checking emails, no anything that sends the “Just one sec, kids. Someone or something more important than you just popped up on my iphone, again.”

    It’s hard. Really hard. Especially when you get all fired up wanting to become the NEXT BIG online entrepreneur/marketer.

    But if you’re a smart entepreneur/member of a family? You always remind yourself that that business you’re so proud of won’t keep your warm at night, won’t make you little cards out of crayons and glitter, and won’t find you a suitable nursing home when you get all old and grey. :)

    Thanks for this vid, Andy and Laura.

    Cheers, Jenny Foss

    • Andy Fogarty says:

      Hey Jenny, thanks for joining in.

      “No texting, no checking emails, no anything that sends the “Just one sec, kids. Someone or something more important than you just popped up on my iphone, again.”

      That truly is one of the hardest parts (especially when we can practically run our entire business from out “smart phones”), but I think that’s probably the case for family focused entrepreneurs. But the point you made at the end really drives home why that’s SO important.

      And Congrats on the new marriage!

      • It IS hard to ignore the iPhone when it’s family time. Majorly sometimes. But something that I always reflect on when I find myself graaaaavvvvitattting over to mine is a news program I watched in which they interviewed children with busy/working parents. Little children. Just like mine.

        The reporter interviewed the kids and nearly every one of them echoed the remark that they HATE IT when Mom or Dad ignores them for texting, or phone calls, or emails…. hate it. Makes them sad.

        I honestly think we’re going to have a whole new psychological issue down the road related to kids who felt unloved by parents who couldn’t pull themselves away from their flipping smart phones!

        Anyhow… thanks again for this post. You certainly got my attention.

        And… appreciate the well-wishes on my new fam. I just love these guys so much!

        Cheers, Jenny

  15. Yes, yes, yes…your advice is right on target, Andy, and I know from experience, having raising two incredible kids who are now 30 and 32 years old. I was fortunate to have been able to stay home with them (without a business) when they were very young, but when they were in middle school, I started working from home to help build up our college savings fund. I didn’t have a lot of today’s technology and the miracle of social media, but your three principles are timeless.

    The biggest mistake I made was not being sufficiently focused and strategic, but I learned a lot, helped with college expenses, and was always there when they got home from school in the afternoon. Now that home-based business is so common, I feel like I was a bit of a pioneer.

    Thanks for this great post. Anyone running a business from a home with small children: pay attention to Andy!

    • Andy Fogarty says:

      I can only imagine the love and respect that your kids have for you now. We are very blessed now to have so easy with the incredible technology available now.

      You’re right, even though technology has made things easier (and much faster and cheaper), these principles are timeless.

      Thanks for sharing with us Elizabeth.

  16. What a great post! It’s definitely one you don’t see much…business and family. This totally applies to me. I’m a SAHM who’s working to grow my business without it taking over my #1 responsibility which is my family. There’s so much to learn, but I know it’s possible. Thank you again! It’s encouraging to find posts like this that let you know it’s possible to have a business and not give up your family for it!

    • Thanks Meagan,

      1. The name Baby Swank is FANTASTIC ;-)

      2. It is absolutely possible to have a thriving business and family.

      It’s wonderful to hear you were encouraged and if you need any more, don’t be a stranger.

  17. Great post! Whenever I read about these great entrepreneurs that are kickin’ butt and taking names none of them have children. My husband travels 100% of the time EVERY week and that leaves me home to be the single parent with no local family for support. I have so many creative ideas I want to implement but I only have about six hours per day while the kids are in school. I try to do everything such as create, promote, read, learn, and follow up. Not to mention keeping the house together and taking kids to music and sports lessons. Your post really put it in perspective for me because I know I am not fully engaged with my kids as much as I should be. Usually I can not wait for them to go to bed so I can get back to what I need to do. he main take-away from this post is to just do 1 thing if that is all you can do, so be it. So, from now on if I can only get 1 thing done I will be happy with that….Thanks!

    • Andy Fogarty says:

      Bingo!

      It’s hard for most people to believe that focusing on and accomplishing just one thing a day will make such a huge difference. Obviously, it’s much better to knock off more than one thing. But the reality for most is when they start the day looking at ten things they’d like to get done, they try to work on all ten (or at least half) at once.

      Focus on one, finish it, and move on to the next. Think of each item as a step in a staircase. You can take another step higher for each completed step. You can’t step any higher on a bunch of half-way built stairs.

  18. What great advice! I especially liked what you said about explaining what you’re doing to your family. I skip over the details of what it will really take, and what I’m trying to accomplish and that can upset my husband…when my time away is long. Thank you.

    What I’m doing is repositioning my business to be more of what I love and meshing it together with my mom blog. That way, when it’s stuff I love, I’m still talking about parenting, growing as a parenting, and sharing my kids..who LOVE to see their faces on my blog or Facebook. I’m learning to be “in the moment” when I’m with my kids. I’m struggling to find a really good balance right now because I still have a job-job and I am putting my kids on restrictive diets to alleviate their disabilities. This is another thing I’m looking at with an eye to business, so as to make my time dually productive. I love your advice of “one thing a day”. Certainly achievable!

  19. Yes! You captured the heart of being a parent and a business owner so beautifully (even the nose picking was pretty cute).
    People have changed how they are earning a living yet the traditional corporate mindset can still dictate how a business “should” run. The “right way” is the way that works!

    I am still learning to trust my own way of doing business as a mother of two young kids. When I let go of “how I am suppose to work” and synchronize my priorities with my family, my business seems to grow.

    I love this quote: “I invested in loving my kids from the day they were born and will continue to do so, without fail, for the rest of my life. I never “balanced” my life, I “optimized” it! – Janet Hanson owner of 85broads.com

  20. Building a business, any kind of business, can be challenging with or without the added bonus of family. I know that there are a lot of terrific business mentors and coaches out there, but I have yet to find many that emphasize the challenges of balancing family with success…until now. Your focus on family is a welcome addition for those of us that want to be successful in our business ventures, but who yearn to be truly fulfilled at home as well. So happy to ‘find’ you, but not surprised that it was LKR that is the connection. See you on your blog…
    ~Andrea

    • Andy Fogarty says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Andrea.

      You’re absolutely right about there not being that many coaches talking about the family side of things with business. I too wish there were more us.

      I’ll be looking for you over at Destination Thrive, and don’t be afraid to let me know how I can help.

  21. kathleen thomas says:

    Hi Andy,

    Thank you so much for speaking to this subject. I’ve created a small, home-based business with my husband, and I’ve struggled and struggled with how to make enough time for all of it.

    I recently read in the book Rework and was struck by the statement that time is a myth, and it really got under my skin. . . I kept thinking I had a good excuse for not getting “everything” done, in that I had a two year old running around in my immediate vicinity. :) But the authors very pointedly call bullshit and say if it’s something you want, you make it happen. Period. Whoa. It was, and continues to be very profound advice for me.

    At the same time, there aren’t a lot of excellent business mentors that I know of, who seem to struggle with these same issues . . . until you of course. :) So thanks so much for tackling the subject.

    In your video you say to schedule your business around your family and not the other way around. I’d like to know more of what you mean by that – how you do it and what that looks like in your world of business and family. Can you give an example of a day in the life (of you) so that I can better grasp this concept?

    Thanks so much for the wonderful, totally pertinent content! I really appreciate it!

    -Kathleen

  22. Enjoyed all your tips! Had a conversation with one of my daughter’s to let her know that she (and her sister and her dad and myself) are the most important things in my life.

    I’ve let them assist me in making videos (check out raw foods witch to be entertained) and with stapling my papers and other little things for me.

    Slowing down is how I keep my sanity and making a list of 3 to 5 small things to accomplish or just 1 larger task (‘cuz I can’t do more than that in a day – without feeling overwhelmed)

    Enjoyed your video Andy!

    • Oh and Andy, I actually turn my phone to silent for a couple hours while I’m working! Get much more done really fast, plus I’m actually ready to wind down with them for after school TV and snacks.

  23. Very cool video blog post, thanks Andy. I don’t have kids but it’s a beautiful reminder to everyone about having a balanced, integrated life. (And I love your relaxed attitude – I can see how being a parent can help someone be a more chilled business person – you can’t control everything!)

    For me:
    – having really clear working hours v. ‘playtime’ hours
    – finding hobbies that have nothing to do with biz (e.g. playing piano, learning Spanish, cooking)
    – frequent computer breaks (having RSI was a major wake-up for me)

    Thanks!
    Corrina

  24. Natalia Nanton says:

    Andy,
    This was so refreshing to watch. My husband and I each run our own business and its too easy to get caught up in our own worlds. Involving the family really helps to prevent that. My daughter plays a huge role in the branding of my company. I can’t wait for the day that she understands and can put in her own creative input.
    Thanks for showing us that it can be done! Little Stella is a lucky girl.

  25. This is something I’ve always struggled with … striking the balance between home, family & work. I have 2 girls with quite unique needs, and a husband who now recognises that my hobby has become a business, and supports me 100%. We recently went through a huge upset with unexpected unemployment where my little business kept our heads above water (just!). Now that we are back to routine, the business side of things is only going to grow, so I have implemented morning, afternoon and evening routines to keep the house running smoothly and the family happy and stable. When school goes back next week I will find out if it all works. I am pretty happy not to have a smart phone right about now though! I’d be hopeless!

  26. Andy,

    Great post. It is always hard to balance family with business from home. I am like Laura. I am a homeschool mom and try to grow my online business. It is on hold at the moment due to a major family move. And while we settle down at our new destination, we are trying to get new routines and schedules down. I plan to get the kids more involved with the business side. It is educational not just for me but for my 12 year old as well.

    Thanks again f