Becoming a parent changes your life in ways that you can’t even begin to imagine.
There are the negatives, like never having a quiet moment to yourself again, and stepping on Legos in the middle of the night. But there are so many positives — and not just the obvious ones.
In fact, one of the surprising side effects is how parenting prepares you for being an incredible entrepreneur. Here are six examples of what I mean.
1. You Become an Incredible Multitasker
As a parent, it seems like you’re constantly doing two things at once. You can scramble eggs with one hand while cuing up a “Baby Einsteins” episode on your iPhone with the other. You can change a diaper in the middle of a conversation without skipping a beat. You can save a toddler from his death-defying leap off the couch as you’re checking his older sister for a fever — all while on hold with the doctor’s office.
These skills can actually help you become a successful entrepreneur. Running a business means wearing many hats: You’re the manager, the employee, and the customer service department all at once. You’re bound to find yourself tending to multiple crises, clients, and customers at the same time.
2. You Learn How to Work at All Hours of the Night
It’s no secret that children keep parents up at night. They can go to bed like peaceful angels and wake up screaming bloody murder at two in the morning for no apparent reason at all. You get surprisingly accustomed to functioning on little or no sleep.
That’s helpful as an entrepreneur, since you’ll often have to burn the midnight oil when running a business. If you’re trying to start a side hustle on top of your 9-to-5 job, late evenings and the wee hours of the morning may be the only time you have to devote to your new venture. Plus, any small business owner must be prepared to work at all hours, whether it’s handling late-night emergencies, calling clients who live in other countries, or simply putting in extra hours to ensure you meet a deadline or make ends meet this month.
3. You Know How to Prioritize
As a parent, you have to ruthlessly prioritize your time and focus. Do you want to look like a presentable human being for the day, or would you like an extra 15 minutes of sleep? Do you want your coffee right now, or should you put that diaper back on the kid who just ripped hers off? Parenting forces you to make quick decisions in ways you never knew existed, and entrepreneurship is much the same.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll often have many different people and tasks vying for your attention at all times. If you try to do everything at once, you’ll undoubtedly fail or leave something out. So it helps to be able to quickly assess what’s most important in a given moment and focus on that first.
4. You Know How to Manage Resources
Parents have to know how to budget and manage their precious money. This can be as simple as skipping your favorite soft drink at the store so you can afford another pack of baby wipes (because your child pulled out every single wipe from the last pack and threw them all down the stairs), or scaling back on birthday parties so you can afford to pay for piano lessons.
But as a parent you may have to make major changes as well, like identifying places to cut back on monthly expenses so you can afford the staggering cost of childcare, or finding ways to free up more time (or even work from home) so you can take on those duties yourself.
As a business owner, you also have to manage finite resources. You have to constantly stay on top of your cash flow, make sure you pay your employees or vendors on time, and carefully consider each business investment you make. Accounting expertise is always helpful, but some experience balancing a family budget is a pretty good substitute.
5. You Learn How to Delegate
Many of us have difficulty delegating because we don’t want to give up control. After all, if you want something done right, they say, you have to do it yourself. But children have a way of breaking down even the most serious control freaks. There’s only so much you can accomplish when a tiny army runs your life.
Delegating is critical to enjoying your life as a parent. You can delegate chores to your spouse — or even, in a few years, to your children. You can call a babysitter to watch your kids for a few hours so you can get out of the house — or even just sit by yourself in silence and remember what it’s like to think actual thoughts. Delegating: It’s a skill worth learning.
You can use those delegation techniques you learned as a parent in your life as an entrepreneur. When you first start your business, it’s common to do nearly everything yourself. But as your business grows, it’s smart to delegate some of those tasks — particularly the ones that aren’t critical, don’t fall within your expertise, or that you simply don’t enjoy — so you can focus on doing the important stuff really well.
6. You Have Something to Fight For
The last, most important way parenting prepares you for entrepreneurship is the fiery resolve it stirs deep within you. What wouldn’t you do for your kids? You find a way to keep going when you’re exhausted, to keep loving them when they infuriate you, to protect them even when you’re scared. You keep fighting.
Starting a business is incredibly challenging. The unpredictable income, long hours, difficult clients, and projects that don’t work out the way you want them to can all cause an immense amount of stress.
However, you’ve probably heard someone say that your business is like your baby. And much like parenting, you’ll do whatever it takes to help it succeed, despite the endless challenges. There are just so many good times and moments of brilliance that somehow inspire you to keep going — even when it seems like you have nothing left.