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How to Lead Your Family Like an Entrepreneur

Nurturing a business is a lot like nurturing a family
To me, being a dad is entrepreneurial. The similarities between running a family and running a business are endless: You’re coordinating a team with different needs, talents, and schedules toward a common goal. You don’t know what’s ahead of you, but you know that it’s exciting and that you want to build toward it.
In both entrepreneurship and being a dad, there is great adventure, risk, and, hopefully, profit. You don’t know what’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen, or even when it’s going to happen. Whatever does happen, giving up is not an option. But the profits you reap — human profits — will be worth much more than pecuniary profits.
As a father of three and CEO of a startup, I think of myself as a dadpreneur. I’ve come to recognize how the two demands on my time and energy overlap and differ. While at times these forces seem to be in competition, they can actually fuel each other. By default, if you are successful with your family, this will give you the balance and peace of mind to be successful in your professional life.
I’ve found several helpful strategies for balancing life as a dadpreneur. (And while this is my own personal method as a dad, I believe it works for mompreneurs as well, or any parent with an active life outside the home.) The book I wrote about my strategies is the one I wished I’d had the chance to read before I became a father myself. My hope is to provide a guide to fathers on how to be successful in both their family and professional lives.
The way I see this journey to success is that you can’t build a strong family if you aren’t healthy. As a parent, you are the engine of your family, like the entrepreneur is the engine of his business. If the engine is broken, there is no way to move forward. Your life is changing. You are getting busier and busier, and before you know it, you start losing track of things. To succeed, it is essential to stay healthy, physically and mentally.
It’s also essential to be well organized. Organization is often tied to the time allowed to us in one day. If you are single, chances are that you have all the time you need to make your life successful (even if it may not always feel that way). When you decide to build a family, that time shrinks. It requires a much different method of organization.
I organize my family life the same way I do my work life. I make lists, I have reminders, I use spreadsheets for budgeting family expenses, and I plan everything in my calendar, which is a crucial tool. I plan meetings with my wife — my business partner in the business of my family — to coordinate and define the family strategy and the road map. For instance, planning out the menu for the full week or nailing down pickups, drop-offs, and after-school activities can be treated the same way as planning weekly goals in the office. Bigger events, like the next camping trip, can be planned with the same precision as quarterly goals.
It’s essential that you stay on the same page with your co-CEO — without consensus in the family boardroom, the rest of the enterprise will be chaos.
You cannot spend all of your time in meetings, whether with your work team or your family, so it’s helpful to schedule time for yourself.

To me, breakfast is the most important meal—it gives me the energy to start my day and to start it well. So I don’t miss it—and so I enjoy it—my technique is to wake up before everybody else in the family and have my breakfast when they’re still asleep. It allows me to prepare anything I want and to sit and enjoy it. It also gives me the opportunity to look at the calendar and prepare for the day, check and clean my mailbox in peace, and be fully committed to the children when they wake up.
One of the risks with a busy life of raising children and working is letting the attention we pay to our partner slide. It’s easy to get caught up in the nonstop train of a dull routine. This is a mistake. You and your partner are the foundations of the family that you are building, and if the foundations slowly erode because of a lack of care, then the whole project is at risk. Paying intentional attention to each other should be part of your daily life. It’s also absolutely essential that you stay on the same page with your co-CEO — your wife, husband, or partner, if you have one. Without consensus and common understanding in the family boardroom, the rest of the enterprise will be chaos.
There is no middle ground when it comes to building a family; you want to make it right and to be successful. You can’t be willing to settle when it comes to a venture as important as a family, parenthood, and the education of your children. Of course, there will be setbacks, and possibly failures, but you can’t be afraid to try.
A big part of your success will come from the fact that you will prioritize others’ lives before your own. Over time, your ego will make space for humility and patience.
When entrepreneurs are successful, they will reinvest the money into new ventures, again and again. As a dadpreneur, you are chasing the same goal, creating something beautiful that will change the world, change your world, and give hope for the future.
Author: Mike Toe
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