There is no denying that being an entrepreneur is hard work, but if you do it correctly it also provides an opportunity to focus on what’s important in life – family.
“Balance is possible,” said Jasmine Sufi, the founder of Acutoronto Wellness Clinic. “But it is a struggle and one always wins over the other at varying times.”
Relationship and parenting expert Natasha Sharma, owner of Rule Your Emotions Inc., said attempting to find a work-life balance is an ongoing process. “There are moments when I’m working and I’ll think, ‘I’m missing out on being with my kids.’ And then there’ll be moments when I’m with them and I’ll think, ‘There are things I want to accomplish work-wise that aren’t getting done right now. I’m falling behind on my own schedule.’ These thoughts are irrational and pointless. So I make an effort to be wherever I am and just be there.”
The key to balancing being a parent and an entrepreneur is setting boundaries right from the start, said Nichola Petts, who created Petts PR in 2016.
“There’s no real ‘off’ button when you work for yourself. It’s important, I have learned, to create some boundaries for yourself that you stick to in order to maintain a family/social life. Unless there’s something urgent that needs my immediate attention, I try to put a stop to work emails and calls in the evening.”
Laura Stratton, who created Strattco PR in 2007, said people should set up office hours that coincide with school or daycare and ignore the home office on weekends. “If you can make it a standard practice that you don’t answer emails at night that will set a standard with clients that you work regular business hours and aren’t online 24/7.”
Lisa Cantkier, owner of Healthful Communications, agreed that setting boundaries is important, as is learning to put you and your family first.
“Carve out a schedule so you know exactly when you are having social, family, and “you” time. Make self-care a priority. Eat well, move, and get enough sleep.”
Abigail Cuiker, who created Abigail Cuiker Communications in 2013, said the bulk of her work is completed when her children are at school, but she will work nights or on weekends in order to meet deadline.
“Be sure you are able to treat work as work, even if you’re at home. Many people assume because I work from home, I’m doing laundry or watching TV. But I have a full workday… You need to be self-motivated and persistent.”
You also need to be able to give up predictability and a steady paycheque. But what entrepreneurs get back is the ability to pursue their passion and flexibility, said Beatrice Bastedo, who established Beatrice Bastedo Consulting in April.
“I give up security for flexibility. I give up regular hours and structure to maintain a schedule that allows me to be with my daughter when she needs me. This time is so important and precious, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”
For It Takes a Village Play Place Inc. founder Cassy Hodgins, creating a small business has another important benefit: “I will also teach my children some very important lessons about hard work, working smarter, and loving what you do.”
Petts agreed. “I like the example that we are setting for our daughter – I want her to grow up knowing that if she puts the work in and is true to herself and what’s she passionate about, that good things will come.”
Lisa Day | Contributing Writer