Children and startups have similar demands, needs and rewards. By Shilpa Dalmia (Co-Founder & CTO, ActivityHero)
Many people ask, “How do you balance work and life with two young kids and a startup?”
My answer is, “The same way you raise three kids.” A startup is just like another child. Each child has his/her/its own demands and needs, and each gives you immense satisfaction and pleasure.
Here are some tips for parents thinking about venturing into the world of entrepreneurship:
Tip #1 - Treat your startup like another baby.
Each child is a full-time job. Before you take the plunge, ask yourself if you are ready to handle another child. You go through similar stages and emotions running a startup as you do while raising a child:
- Market research, testing ideas, joining entrepreneurial communities for a startup is similar to researching what's right for you child and joining parenting groups.
- Picking out names.
- Sleepless nights.
- Celebrating little milestones like your startup's first soft-launch and pilot customer are like celebrating a baby’s first smile and first step.
- Every day is a challenge, lots of unknowns, unpredictability.
- Realizing that this is something you cannot stop being attached to. Just like you cannot stay away from your kids, you cannot stay away from working on your startup.
Tip #2 - Involve your kids in your startup.
Make them feel part of it so there is no sibling rivalry. There will be times when you can do things together as a family - designing the logo, coming up with names for your company, discussing challenges - let them help you wherever they can.
My eight year old daughter is so excited about my startup that she begged to dress up as my company mascot for Halloween last week!
Tip #3 - Your spouse plays an extremely important role.
His/her support, both mental and physical, can make a huge difference in dealing with the stress factor.
Tip #4 - Quality more important than quantity when it comes to time.
Do the things you enjoy doing the most - like cooking or driving kids around or playing board games or reading - and delegate the rest. I cannot stress the importance of delegating and not getting caught up with doing things you hate. Hire help - cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping. This is part of the startup investment you’re making.
Tip #5 - Make sure your finances are in order.
Don’t let that add to your stress. Remember, you are not the 20 year old college kid who can live in a suitcase and has nothing much to lose.
Tip #6 - Give your 100% to the task at hand.
Remember, each child is a full-time job. And in order to do justice to each, you need to give each one your complete attention. If you’re spending time with your child doing their favorite activity, don’t do anything else. Shut off your phone, do not check emails. When you’re working at home, let your kids know that this is your work time and you do not want to be disturbed.
Tip #7 - Take a vacation.
Yes, you cannot be entirely disconnected while on vacation, but make sure to take a break. It’s important for both you and your family’s sanity.
Tip #8 - Remember, your co-founder is like your spouse.
You are raising this baby together, so make sure one of you is always there to take care of this baby. It’s important to make sure that you not only have complementary skills, but also complementary timings so when you have your cellphone off or you are on your little family vacation, you know your baby is still well taken care of.
At the end of the day, it will be the respect that you have for each other and the love for your baby that will see your company through both the good times and bad.
Editor's note: Shilpa Dalmia is co-founder and CTO of ActivityHero, a finalist for the Women 2.0 PITCH NYC 2012 Startup Competition. ActivityHero will be pitching on November 14 at the PITCH NYC Conference - get your $300 to join us for the full day conference here.
Women 2.0 readers: What's your killer tip for juggling a startup and children? Let us know in the comments.
About the guest blogger: Shilpa Dalmia is Co-Founder and CTO of ActivityHero. An "OpenTable for kids activities", ActivityHero helps busy parents find, plan and book kids after-school activities and summer camps. Shilpa had been coding in the Silicon Valley for 15 years at various startups until she quit one day to build ActivityHero to provide the best opportunities for his/her kids while being smart about saving time and money. Follow her on Twitter at @shilpa_dalmia.