One founder explains how the lessons she learned raising her kids help her run her business.
By Zeynep Ilgaz (President, Confirm BioSciences)
Running a business is tough, but if you have a spouse and kids, you know it’s a never-ending battle to keep things running smoothly at home.
It’s not just a matter of balance — running a family is a constant education in leadership. From managing projects to doling out tough love to rewarding good behavior, taking care of a family is a lot like taking care of the people who work for you.
Here are a few skills I’ve picked up as a wife and mother that I couldn’t run my business without:
We put so much pressure on ourselves to "do it all" that it’s easy to overlook the importance of trusting others enough to delegate when we need help. I have to admit that when I was first married, I was somewhat controlling (and we didn’t even have kids yet!).
Over the years, though, I’ve learned that working as a team gets better results with less stress. Teamwork can extend to your kids, too, who can clean their own rooms, collect the garbage, and even help in the kitchen.
In the office, you have to trust all team members to do their parts so the company can achieve the best results. You can’t effectively delegate responsibilities or enjoy working as a team if you don’t trust your employees to do their jobs.
When you’re running a household, everything is part of the budget: groceries, school, allowances for the kids, entertainment, and savings. You must live within your means for the security of your family.
The better you manage your personal finances, the better you’ll manage business finances. If you can’t understand and manage the constant flow of cash, your company will fall apart. Get your company’s spending on track, and start building a nest egg.
Everyone knows communication is important, but my family has helped me learn that a huge aspect of communication is judgment-free listening.
After reading “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber, I began to emphasize listening with my kids. One of the proudest moments for us all is when they talk about a problem, I listen, and they determine a solution on their own.
I’ve been equally pleased to experience this as a leader in my business. Encouraging non-judgmental listening in the workplace can help employees solve problems among themselves and arrive at a solution without having to involve me or other leaders.
With kids, things rarely (if ever) go as planned. But you learn to adapt and be flexible.
This has been priceless for me. The more agile you can be in business, the more likely your company is to succeed when market conditions change.
Leading with Love
I often tell my staff that leading a household is no different than leading a team at work. You need to set a good example, communicate, listen, nurture, and provide for your staff, just like your family. You should educate yourself on your role and work hard to live up to a high standard.
A book that has helped me along my journey is “Wooden on Leadership” by John Wooden, one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. This book is full of tips on how to lead a great organization.
My husband and kids know that I love them — and that I put vast amounts of energy and thought into caring for them. My staff also knows that I love working with them, and I love the work we do. We take care of each other, and I want them to be healthy and well-balanced, as well as effective workers.
Being a wife and a mother has been the best part of my life. I have learned so much from my husband and my kids, and taking those lessons and applying them to my business has made the experiences more meaningful and my business more successful.
When you approach your business like taking care of a family, you and your team members will reap the rewards.
What lessons from family life have you applied at work?
About the blogger: Originally from Turkey, Zeynep Ilgaz and her husband immigrated to the United States with nothing but two suitcases, a love for each other, and a desire for entrepreneurship. They co-founded Confirm BioSciences, the global leader in the field of lab and instant testing for drugs of abuse and health.