Today, you formulated a carpool plan, found a math tutor and baked two dozen muffins for the classroom party, and it’s not even 8 a.m. yet! Without realizing it, you are behaving like an entrepreneur.
Parenting means creating something where nothing before existed. It means learning routines, when to delegate, when to give ourselves time outs, when to let go and how to be more flexible. Let’s delve into seven success strategies that can work for both entrepreneurs and parents. Maybe you’re already using some of these effectively:
- Manage your time efficiently.
Once you’ve taken on the title of parent or business owner, time becomes much more important than money. If the day isn’t structured to maximize full potential, then chaos can break loose. Becoming a parent/entrepreneur, we learn quickly how to schedule our day so that every minute is productive, which can sometimes mean making a choice between playing “Words with Friends” or making dinner for the family or that cold sales call. Entrepreneurs and parents realize that routines are important and will lead to fewer tantrums and more success.
- Know when to seek an outside consultant.
I didn’t receive an operating manual when I became a parent, did you? Luckily, there are many parents out there who are happy to share their expertise via their blogs, books or magazine articles. Some of the advice may apply to your family, and some won’t. Sometimes we need to employ tutors or guidance counselors to help us through the tough times. The same is true if you’re an entrepreneur. You can read all the books, magazines, blogs and inspirational quotes, but you’ve got to determine when it’s time to seek the guidance of an outside consultant. Just as in parenting, that consultant can look at your challenge with fresh eyes and give you suggestions that will make you, your family or your business stronger and help you continue to thrive.
- Maximize scarce resources.
We’ve all heard the term “bootstrapping.” What does that actually mean? When I was a new parent on an outing with my newborn, I once had to fashion a diaper out of a scarf and a plastic bag so I could make it home with minimal impact on my child’s car seat. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was bootstrapping, which means to get oneself into or out of a situation using existing resources. As parents and entrepreneurs, we do this every day without realizing it. We come up against challenges and situations that need our savvy intuition and sometimes just dumb luck to get us out. (Thank goodness I had a scarf with me that day!)
- Refine the art of flexibility.
We might be the boss of our company or the head of the household, but as parents and entrepreneurs, we learned the art of flexibility the hard way. Once you’ve been put on the spot by your toddler or your best customer, you know that the only way to stay on top is by being flexible, ceding some ground, and doing a lot of smiling and maybe some coddling. Yoga definitely can help with physical flexibility, but it’s mental yoga that you need as a parent/entrepreneur.
- Give yourself a time out.
Prior to becoming a parent/entrepreneur, we had lots of time for time out. Weekends were spent leisurely with dinners, movies or hanging out with friends. Evenings after work were a chance to catch up with our significant other. However, once you become a parent/entrepreneur, those “time outs” disappear quickly. We learn how important down time actually is! Parental time outs are crucial to our well being. We all need a chance to reconnect and regroup, and return to the family ready and refreshed. Entrepreneurs need to be diligent about scheduling schedule time outs. Without them, entrepreneurs burn out, creativity and innovation get muddled and energy to bring to the business can disappear. Time outs can include one day with no email, longer walks during workdays or a real lunch hour where you’re not eating at your desk!
- Make learning a daily activity.
Once you’ve embarked down the parent/entrepreneur road, you’ll find that staying open to learning opportunities becomes natural. Staying curious, seeking new ways to accomplish tasks and seeing how technology can assist rather than hinder are all par for the course right now.
- Let it go!
Yes, that was a great song from the movie Frozen, but it works in parenting and in business. Sometimes, giving up control is the best thing you can do. See where things are going, make sure everyone is safe, and just let it go and breathe. Everything will work out spectacularly in the end.
Judy Santos is an entrepreneur and the founder of OfficeSlice, the first co-working space in the San Fernando Valley. The mother of two teenagers, she is also a business coach and creator of the Business Builder Program, which helps business owners and entrepreneurs simultaneously build a business and a life they love.