Ep. 11: How To Thrive as a Dadpreneur

In today’s early morning chat, I’m going to share my experience being a dad. I work at home, I’m a dad, and an entrepreneur. I want to talk about what it’s like to build up a home-based business while also enjoying the role of being a father to two young boys, one who is four years old, and one who is a year and a half.

I want all the dads out there to be able to walk away from this episode with some ideas of what they could do to make working at home while being a father something that they can enjoy. I’ve learned a lot about how to take away some of the stresses that come along with this. Now I feel as if I am at peace about the roles that I have, and the ways in which I’m balancing them.

I’m mostly speaking to all the dads out there who are trying to start a business, to those who already have one, and to those who are the main providers for their families. There’s some real pressure that you must deal with in that situation, where you have the family role tugging on you, and then you have the provider role, while also trying to start your business.

So, how do you manage and balance all of that in a way where you can feel like you’re really pulling it off?

We’ll start with today’s inspirational quote, which is, “every father should remember that one day, his son will follow his example, not his advice.” – Charles Kettering.

That quote is very true. It reminds me about the importance of living in a way that you want your children to one day live. Ultimately, no matter how much good advice you share with them, or how many things you tell them about how to live, they will copy your real-life example rather than following what you say.

I hope that my example of the way I’m building a business at home while prioritizing my role as a dad sticks out to my kids. If they want to be dads someday, they’ll follow my example, and do even better than I have.

The hope for every family is that with each generation, there’s improvement. It’s good if your children rise above you and do better. And you have to be okay with that, because it’s actually a sign that you did a good job. You want your kids to grow up and do things better than you do.

I want to use my story on how I navigated these pressures and stresses that I encountered at first to help other dads who may be going through the same process. Further, I’m sure if you are a mom and you’re the sole provider, that you will also get a lot out of today’s episode.

However, I’m labeling my experience being a dad because that’s my personal experience. But just know that this still applies to you if you’re a mom, and I applaud you for taking on the parenting role while working.

Now, for my story. I was three months away from the birth of my first son when I lost my full-time salary job. It was about nine months since I graduated college. The pressure was already on, as my wife and I decided that I would be the only one working so that she could be at home with our child.

My wife stopped working just a few months before I lost my job. That’s when it clicked with me. I didn’t want all my income in one place with one employer. Then, I could just lose it all at once.

This is what set me on the path to attempt freelancing. But then, my son was born, and that first year of building up my business was rough. I actually went back and forth between my salary job and freelancing because I was worried about money as we sunk into thousands of dollars of debt.

This was financially very difficult as I attempted to build a business from home with no training. I just didn’t have the right tools or training on how to build that business, on sales, networking, and all the other skills that are necessary to make it a success. You can’t just go in with your craft and make it. There’s a lot more to it than that.

Out of desperation, I did ping pong between this freelance attempt and my salary business, but eventually, I committed solely to freelancing. But it was hard to find clients when I was under severe pressure to make money. This desperate energy was just pushing people away.

As a result, I had to change my perspective on money. I saw money as my source of security, when really, my source of security should have been my relationships. I went through lots of journaling to help talk myself through some mindset training techniques. I shifted my subconscious thinking, making myself realize that money is NOT where I find security.

If you’re united with your family and you have a solid home, you can come together and figure out how to produce what you need to live and survive. I also had to shift my beliefs about money being bad. I thought it was a bad thing, a source of stress. You grow up seeing parents fight about it, and society talks about it negatively.

Subconsciously I didn’t want money because of these beliefs, but consciously, I felt like I NEEDED it. But I was just too afraid of success and the negativity that money could bring into my life. This perspective was pushing clients away and hindering my own success.

What do you believe about money? Later, we will have an entire episode devoted to money and how to improve your relationship with it. But for now, just audit your beliefs on money and switch your thinking on it.

Money is a good thing. But don’t attach your happiness or security to it. When I really changed my perspective on money, it started to open opportunities for me. I was able to get enough money to pay my bills and get my business going.

Coming back to balancing the roles of being a dad and an entrepreneur building up a business, it wasn’t too hard for the first year because he was a baby. Sure, it came with all the expected struggles parents face with a newborn. But he was just a baby, so he didn’t interrupt work time to come play, and he didn’t want my attention while I was in the office.

He was content with the attention he got when I wasn’t working. I didn’t quite yet learn how to manage having a business while having a kid. So back then, I didn’t really know how to 100% close my business after my work was finished. I’d be done for the day, but then I’d still be thinking about business stuff.

I had to learn to set a schedule and truly stick to it. I was more so working randomly opposed to just working on a consistent schedule. That also made it more difficult for me to turn my brain on and off, so I actually made an open and closed sign that I had in my room. This not only helped me, but it helped my son Olivier when he got older to see that dad is working or not working.

As he got older, though, the interruptions started to increase. He wanted to play during the day, and he didn’t understand why I had to go into the office and ignore him while I focused on my work. However, now that he’s almost 5 years old, he’s starting to connect that work means money, and money means we pay for necessities.

But that doesn’t mean that the interruptions are non-existent. It’s much better than before, though. You have to keep adapting as your kids get older. I’m sure as my kids grow older and older, it will get easier. They’ll understand better. But you get to learn lessons in those earlier years.

Oliver hasn’t known anything different though, which helps. It’s more difficult if you have a child who’s 5, 6, or 7 years old, and suddenly dad is working from home. They’re used to you being gone all day for work.

When Oliver was 3 years old, he started banging on my office door. I locked the door to try and keep him out, but that didn’t fix the issue. He would bang on my door during a meeting, or while I was editing a video, and I would get very stressed about not getting my work done and worrying about what other people may think.

I was worried that clients wouldn’t find me reliable if they saw my kids distracting me in the background. If you’re having some of the same worries, don’t. your clients don’t care as much about that as you think they do. In fact, the pandemic helped with this, as more clients have opened up to everyone being forced to work from home.

Suddenly, my clients were no longer video chatting me from an office cubicle. Their families were in their spaces now, too. This helped me realize that I was exaggerating their judgmental perspectives based on my own insecurities.

The COVID-19 pandemic helped me realize that it’s possible to be productive around kids and family members. The point is that you get the work done efficiently and on time. As long as you can do that, there’s not a problem.

I also eventually had to get to the point where I was accepting my dad role as my first passion, rather than my video production. I was passionate about video production, and there were aspects of it that I wanted to focus more on. I wanted to be. Hollywood filmmaker and I had other similar aspirations that I clung to. But then I realized, being a dad and being able to provide for my family was my first passion.

My second passion was entrepreneurship. Then I realized that these two things didn’t conflict with one another. My top ambition is being as good of a dad as I can be. This helped me grow my business faster. Funnily enough, when I slowed down career-wise and put the focus first on being a dad, my career grew more than it ever had before. This will be true for you as well.

Whether you’re a mom or a dad, for parents, this is an important lesson. It’s especially apparent when you’re working at home and building a business there, that peace comes when you embrace your parent role first.

You don’t have to obsess over your career success. Don’t view your family as something that inhibits your progress. At one point, I started building resentment towards being a dad, and I wasn’t even doing it consciously.

But I had it all wrong. It’s funny how that works, when we put what’s most important first, then everything comes together. The Universe, God, whatever you believe in, ensures that you are taken care of when you correctly prioritize.

I want to close this conversation by including a few last tips for you. These are some tangible things I did to make working at home as a dad much easier.

The first tip is to commit to a specific schedule. You have to type up a schedule when you’re working, and when you’re not working, and print it out. Laminate it and put it on the fridge somewhere in your house where everyone can easily see it daily.

If you go off schedule or have to move things around when various priorities occur, that’s okay. But most days and weeks you commit to that schedule. It also helps your family out, too. They’ll get used to your schedule, and it really helps the kids learn and understand it better when it’s an iron clad sort of thing.

Children really pick up on routines. For example, while my son doesn’t fully understand the work-from-home thing yet, he knows that Fridays are not workdays, because I take that day off.

If you keep switching it up by occasionally grabbing the laptop, sitting in the backyard, or in the living room, it’s going to throw your kids off. It’s okay to occasionally do this, but overall, you want consistency.

I encourage you to set up your own workspace with boundaries. Have your designated work area. This helps for many reasons. In my case, my door is a method of communication. If it’s wide open, then anyone is free to come in and do whatever. I’ll pause for a few minutes despite it being work time to help him build a Lego creation or something quick.

My door is usually cracked or closed, but it’s never locked. My son caused even more interruptions when I locked my door. Once I allowed him into my space, he didn’t even want to come in as often.

Sure, there are still times where I’ll have to pause and look him in the eye, letting him know that my focus on work is important in that moment. But it’s best to let them in rather than push them away. It usually doesn’t take more than just a few minutes to get on their level and explain to them why you need time right now.

Even when he had no concept of time, just giving him that quick bit of attention and reassuring him that I’ll be around after really helped. They feel heard this way.

I also set up a space for my son in my office where he can play and do his own thing. I encourage you to let your children into your workspace somehow. Ditch the self-conscious worry about what clients may think of you. Own that you’re confident in being both a dad and a solopreneur.

Overall, you really need to brainstorm some ways to let your kids into your space, but also know that it’s okay to set up some boundaries. Having a spouse definitely helps with this since they can help manage young children, but if you’re a single parent, communication is very important.

It can be easy to get impatient with your kids and want to push them away. But hear them out, let them in, and you’ll be surprised at how even the youngest children can understand what you’re doing and respect it.

Now that we’ve taken a look at how to overcome challenges of being a parent and an entrepreneur, let’s take a look at the positives of being a dadpreneur. Once you get to where it starts working for you, being a parent who runs their own business at home is a mostly positive experience.

It’s important to recognize the benefits because they will get you through those tougher times when you’re wondering whether or not you should bail. Here are some of the perks I’ve noticed.

First off, I love being able to see all of my kid’s “first times.” I haven’t missed any of their firsts; seeing them take their first steps, hearing their first words, all of it. Maybe I’m in the other room sometimes when these happen, but overall, I get to be part of it.

I’m home in the morning, I take an hour and a half for lunch, and then I’m done with work by 4 o’clock on most days. Plus, I’m completely off on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Another perk is that I love being able to see my wife a lot more and talk to her throughout the day. I get more than just evening catchups where everything feels rushed and mushed together. We work through problems easier and get on the same page about things thanks to my at-home business life.

I’ve also really gotten to know my kids in ways that other dads may not get to because they’re simply not there enough. It helps me really communicate well with the kids because I’m there to experience all their ups and downs. Instead of that all being on my wife, I get to be there to experience it WITH her.

I also love getting to be home and help with the housework more. This not only helps the children live a better life, but it takes a lot of the pressure off of my wife and gives her more breaks. She gets the opportunity to feel more balanced.

Growing up, me and my brother really gave my mom a hard time, and she was just absolutely done by the time my dad got home from work. It’s hard just being one parent all day, especially when they’re young children who have a lot of needs and act rambunctious.

Sometimes, my four-year-old needs to come into my office and play here with me for a bit. Or my baby needs to come in here and be separated from my four-year old. The two-parent thing makes it easier to take care of the kids, especially when there’s more than one.

I just love the flexibility of it all. And there is a difference between working from home and owning your own business at home. Many people work from home and still don’t have the flexibility that I have. They’re an employee, and they don’t get to determine their own schedule or hours.

I like that it’s normal to be a dad here. I get to be physically closer to my family, making sure they’re safe, no one gets hurt, and just knowing they’re okay at all times. We share a morning routine, a lunch routine, and even an evening routine. We don’t have a bunch of different routines because we’re all on the same schedule.

This creates more of a bond. I don’t only see my kids in the evening when they’re super tired. I get them at their happiest, and their most energetic. Plus, I save a lot of time not having to commute every day. It’s easier to get more done around the house, and for work.

Overall, these are the reasons I’m grateful to be a dadpreneur. I get to share parenting responsibilities with my wife much more this way. I know my dad really wanted to do that more, too. But it takes each generation to add upon the previous one and figure out how to make that change happen.

I’m so glad I’ve been able to build upon what my dad has done, and what the generation before him did, and so on. He was part of our lives a lot more than his father was part of his. I hope that my son can add to what I’m doing and improve it further.

I’m definitely not perfect. I’ve had times where I stomp my feet and claim that I’m leaving the house and going to rent an office somewhere. I got fed up with not being able to consistently focus for long periods of time because I didn’t have the proper systems in place at that time.

But if you just push through these moments, you’ll figure out the right strategies and systems to solve the problem. There are many problems that are associated with working at home and building your business there, but it is so worth it. The benefits outweigh the negatives. There are solutions, and I encourage you to hang tight and hold out for those solutions.

One last bonus tip I have for dadpreneurs is that you have to be extremely diligent making your to-do lists so that when you do get interrupted, you can easily get back to what you’re doing. You know what’s going on and what happens next. This will make you far less grumpy about interruptions.

I hope today’s conversation has helped you start the process of fully embracing your dadpreneur role. Check out the show notes, subscribe to the podcast and YouTube channel, and check out the other blog posts for more related content. I’ll see you during our next early morning conversation.

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