Balancing entrepreneurship and parenting
Being a parent and running a climate business are exhausting and demanding pursuits on their own. Taking on both at once can be exceptionally difficult - your attention is constantly split, making it harder to be present in either role. But learning to balance these two responsibilities is far from impossible, and can be incredibly rewarding.
Morielle Lotan is the founder of Mile Advisory, and a mother of two. We sat down with her to discuss the intense challenges that come with being a parent and a founder, as well as the ways parenthood can make you a better entrepreneur, and advice on how to juggle these two parts of your life.
Why being a parent and a founder is so difficult
If you’re a parent who runs a startup, you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that your children will never get your best self. You won’t be able to pay as much attention to them as you’d like - your job will require you to take calls on vacation, and have one earbud in while you take your kids to the park. There’ll be certain periods - especially around fundraising - where the huge amount of pressure you’re under will mean you simply won’t be a fun person to be around. Very few people can shut this stress off when they’re at home - as a founder, you can’t disconnect in the way you’d be able to as a regular employee.
Being a parent can also put significant strain on your role as a founder, because caring for your kid is non-negotiable - if they're sick, or if their daycare closes, you have to be available. It can also be difficult to work from home, because they won’t understand that you can’t be interrupted. And, while traveling for work is important for most entrepreneurs, this will likely be impossible unless you have full time help, and you’ll have to turn down many invitations to events that could be valuable opportunities for networking with investors.
How parenthood can positively impact your work as a founder
While it deals you a unique set of challenges, being a parent will spur your personal growth in ways that will ultimately make you a better entrepreneur. It will hone your self control, patience, and compassion, and you’ll develop a new level of depth that most other founders don’t possess.
You’ll be able to ruthlessly prioritize in a way you never have before, and wring out every last drop of the day to get everything done. It will completely change your relationship to focus, as you’ll be able to get work done even when there’s chaos around you. You’ll be able to quickly jump from one problem to another and adapt to constant curveballs, making you more resilient and better equipped for the difficulties of running a business. Coming home to your children can also be a remedy to the loneliness of being an entrepreneur, which can often be an inherently isolating job.
Advice for entrepreneurship as a parent
1. Remember your startup and your kid are not the same thing
While there are some parallels to being a parent and running a business - like the time pressure, stress, and uncertainty - your child is a living, breathing individual with independent opinions and perspectives. The sooner you realize you can surrender the illusion of control and roll with the punches, the easier things will be.
2. Accept that there’ll be sacrifices
To fit everything in, you’ll sometimes have to put other parts of your life on hold - even important parts, like seeing friends. There’ll be periods where your world will consist of your family and your work, and nothing else, so you need to practice radical acceptance of that fact. But you should also make sure your team is aware you have strict limits on the hours you work, which you’ll only bypass in exceptional circumstances.
3. You don’t have time for mistakes
Because you need to be thoughtful about where you spend every moment of your day, you don’t have the same room for error that other founders might have - your company needs to be on the right track from the get-go. For instance, if you’re launching a product, but there’s still gaps in your understanding of your customer, figure that out first. If you don’t lay the right groundwork, you’ll have to spend time fixing your mistakes later, and you really can’t afford to be that inefficient.
4. Find a bulletproof approach to prioritization
Because your time is so limited, and your priorities are in such fierce competition, the productivity tools and methods that are generally best practice become significantly more important if you’re a parent. You can hire a coach to help you master productivity techniques, or teach yourself with books and other resources. If possible, it might even be worth your time to beef up this skill set before you start your startup journey.
5. Remember to celebrate
If you’re really committed to life as an entrepreneur, you’ll be moving on from one business to the next, and this balancing act won’t ever end. Don’t wish your time away by hoping it’ll magically get easier one day - instead, trust that you’ll find a way to adapt to the different challenges that come up. Even when you’re struggling, try to appreciate the immense privilege that comes with being both a parent and a founder, and remember to celebrate the good days.
Morielle Lotan is a highly skilled executive leader with nearly 15 years of experience. Morielle's expertise in qualitative research design, insights synthesis, C-Suite level advisory, and project management has enabled her to build a business consortium and work with diverse organizations. Morielle is the founder of MILE advisory, which strategizes and manages the execution of critical business initiatives at major crossroads of their development focused on energy and climate.