Running a startup is no easy task. Many people think it’s glamorous. Many people think you start it, raised a few million bucks, and you sit back and relax. Many people see the Instagram posts of the office life, and think it’s one big party. It’s none of the above.
Running a startup is an emotional rollercoaster that never ends. It is filled with insane highs, and dreadful lows. You work at the office as much as you can, and when you are home and try to turn it off, you can’t. Your brain always has work on the mind. You put on your game face all the time; you build emotional walls around yourself to protect others around you.
I could not imagine having a baby in the early stages of our startup, BuzzBuzzHome. Honestly, I just could not imagine being able to handle it both emotionally and physically. But, there are people out there who do it, and have done it: colour me impressed. For both myself and my business partner, we had babies recently – a time when our businesses were more established, which put us in a better position for parenting.
I am really lucky for a few things that I would recommend to any entrepreneur starting a family.
Make sure you have an incredible business partner. My partner’s name is Cliff Peskin – he is often behind the scenes making sure everything’s running smoothly. He’s a thinker, and he is thoughtful. We have a defined division of labour, where he mainly handles the inside stuff (think: engineering and product) and I take care of the outside stuff (think: marketing, PR, sales, customers, service). Of course, there is overlap, where we work on strategy and high level concepts together. We are bouncing boards for each other’s ideas. We are emotional support for each other. We look out for each other. And, somehow in the 8+ years working together, we have never had a fight – disagreements, for sure, which are very healthy. I do not think we could have taken our company to where it today, and thusly had the time for a baby, if it weren’t for Cliff’s brilliance.
We have built an incredibly strong team around us. In the early days of our businesses, as mentioned above, it was a 24/7 battle, filled with a roller coaster of emotions. If you are thinking of starting a family, make sure that you’ve built an incredible team around with, with a really strong set of procedures in place. Now, 8+ years in, I know that my team can handle anything that is thrown at it. I know that I can go on a 14 day vacation, turn off, and not be worried of any issues arising. Boom.
Be selfish with your time! You don’t need to be in the office all the time. Start figuring out how to get to the office at 9am and leave at 5pm. This is also true for evening events – my weeks used to be cluttered with condo launches, work events, real-estate things, and who-knows-what. Now, I only attend the best of the best, and leave the rest for someone else in my office to go to. Sure, once the baby is sleeping for the night you will probably have to work from home, and sure your team might be slightly weirded out at all the 2am emails, but make it home for some playtime before bed-time. Early mornings with our little one and when I get home from work are the best times of my day. It is amazing how fast these little babies grow, and I don’t want to miss a second of it.
Lastly – and most importantly – stay sane, collected, positive and persistent. And, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Side note: I can not stress enough the importance of family. But, that can be for a whole different post.