I had my first business at the age of 25. I finished my Special Education studies and opened an Early Childhood Center that became a very successful business within a short time. I was a mother and a wife and had a mortgage, a car and a personal loan for my business.
If you hear parents tell you that kids are an obstacle for them, I can tell you that having kids is a bad excuse for not doing business. When the kids grow up and leave the house, they will be left with their excuses. So when they have to explain why they have never done what they have always wanted to do, they will start saying, “It’s too late now”, which is just another excuse.
If you are thinking of starting a business and will need to juggle business and family, it is a good idea to discover what you will have to do to succeed at it. Some people are not cut out to own and operate a business. Others do not know how to balance a home and a business. Managing your business, your home and your parenting well requires some skills and attitudes that will determine the success of your business, the quality of your family life and even your health.
Unlike people who do not have kids, business parents risk a lot more than their own time and money. They risk their relationships with their partners and with their kids, as well as the quality of preparation their kids get for life. You go into business because you want a better life for your kids, not to destroy your relationship with your kids, so do it right!
Qualities of bad business people
Here is a list of qualities and behaviors that will prevent you from making it in business and what you can do instead. Read carefully. If you find any item that describes how you operate, make an effort to change before investing in a business. If you are already in a business, this is even more important.
- Reactive – cannot predict anything and do not think ahead. Reactive people behave like the Fire Brigade and try to put out fires instead of preventing them. They are always surprised when things happen, because they do not plan ahead. Think ahead. Visualize. Conceptualize. Play with scenarios in your mind. Have a good system that can tell you to pay attention to things ahead of time. We send our subscribers a newsletter every month on the 15th. We cannot afford to wake up on the 15th and say, “Oh, I have a newsletter to write and prepare”. We have computer reminders and we write and schedule things in advance. In business, many things cannot be predicted, but many can be. Have things ready well ahead of time.
- Lacking long, medium or short-term goals. Nobody can achieve goals without having them. You go into business to succeed. You have to have a definition of what success means to you. You have to build up to that success by setting and achieving short, medium and long-term goals. They are your success plan.
- Being busy with details and never having enough time. The feeling of not having time means they do not manage their time properly. You can predict how this affects the way they manage their family life too. Having good time management is essential to running a family as much as to running a business. If you hear yourself saying often, “I don’t have time”, stop and do something about it. You may be planning too much, you may not be effective or your sense of priority may need adjusting.
- Avoiding decisions. When the decisions are tough, some people wait for their circumstances to change and save them from making a choice. Remember, not making a decision is a choice. Good business people do not give circumstances the power to determine their life. They make decisions even if they are tough and keep learning from the outcomes.
- Making a fuss out of little things. Some people find it hard to distinguish between what is important and what requires letting go. If you declare a “red alert” for every tiny thing, no wonder your life looks like a battle zone. If you are such a person, use a rating system. On a scale of 1-10, how big is this issue? Or on a scale of 1-10, how important is this for me? Then, choose your battles. Deal with the important things and fit the rest in-between or let them go.
- Having a desk full of documents and not prioritizing. If you look at some people’s desk, you will see a jumble of bills, articles, bank statements, private letters and even things they have no use for. Put some order into your documents. Have a place for everything. Have a filing system for documents. On average, people go over each document 6 times. That is a waste of a lot of time you could be spending with your kids. Decide what to do about each document and then file it or throw it away. The order and the space on you desk will clear your mind.
- Not delegating and trying to do everything by themselves. Some people never ask for help. When you are in business and have kids, you cannot be superman or superwoman, so get help. Let someone else do the things you cannot. If your time is worth X, pay someone else whose time is worth less than X to do the accounts, the cleaning or the stock taking. You may pay the same by the hour, but if they get twice as much done in that time, you save.
- Doing things manually (“the old fashioned way”). Some people avoid spending money on things that can make them more productive. An electric saw may cost more than a hand saw, but if your job is cutting timber, it will make you heaps faster and pay for itself 10 times every week. Get better tools. Buy software, books, machines and other technology that will speed up your work.
- Working 10-14 hours a day. Working at night or staying overtime often is a sign of poor time management. If you do extra work regularly, you will burn out. Decide how many hours you work and stick to it. If you need to work more than 8 hours, try doing it after the kids are in bed. You do not want them to see you working all the time. They might thing you have no life and learn from you. If you need to give extra time, plan it ahead. Get the kids to a weekend sleepover at the grandparents or with friends and do some extra work.
- Stretching boundaries to the point of addiction with “I will do just one more thing”. Some people stay at work and keep reading “just one more email” or “just making that last change” when it is time to go home. Others stay up and watch “just to the end of this show”, then find themselves tired and grumpy the following day. When you run your own business, work never ends. There is always “one more thing” to do. Let go! Stop on time. Switch to “family mode”. Take care of yourself. Stick to your boundaries.
- Having a black and white mentality. Some people are not flexible with their requirements and expectations. They are constantly frustrated, because life is full of “shades of gray”, not black and white. This is a rigid mindset and gets them into lots of problems. Flexible businesses respond faster to market changes and succeed where rigid ones fail. Learn to compromise and accept a variety of situations and people.
- Being perfectionists. Some people talk about “the right solution” instead of “a practical”, “a possible” or “a manageable” solution. Again, that makes them very frustrated and others view them as snappy and anti-social, which makes it harder to do business with them. Life is never perfect, if only because different people expect different things. Go for “good enough” and do the best you can do under the circumstances, even if it is not “perfect”.
- Always finding someone to blame for problems, difficulties and challenges. If something goes wrong and you always talk about whose fault it is, you are suffering from the blame disease. People do not like doing business with those who do not take responsibility. Take responsibility!
- Seeing a bad and sad future, complaining and finding problems and faults. Again, people do not like being around complainers. Just stop complaining or use the rubber band technique. Put a rubber band on your wrist and flick it and experience pain every time you complain. After a while, it will slow down. When you look at the bright side, your life and your business will be bright.
- Taking work home. Mixing work and home can be dangerous, because it blurs the lines and makes it easier to extend work at the expense of home. Even if you decide to work from home, have a separate area for work and “go home” when the workday is over.
- Not taking time to rejuvenate. Some people wear themselves down by working non-stop. Weekends are precious, so use them for rest. Take a few days off for fun and relaxation every 3 months. Take a longer holiday once a year.
- Trying to be friendly with everyone. Some people just want to be nice and do not know how to set boundaries with clients, suppliers, employees and even their children. At some point, they start feeling abused and their self-esteem starts to drop, along with their performance. In business, you must set prices and you must set policies. Learn to be nice within reason and to be firm when you need to be.
- Trying to avoid paying Tax and forgetting to make money. Taxes are paid on income and even when you pay 40% taxes, you get to keep 60% of what you make, which is better than nothing. I want to pay $1,000,000 in tax every year, because it will mean I am making a lot of money. Accept taxes as part of life and get on with making money. In fact, look at a high tax amount as an indication you are doing well.
In a way, running a family is similar to running a business. If you have the right skills and attitudes, you can do both of them well. If someone tells you that you cannot do both, do not listen, because you can! Kids are a wonderful source of motivation to succeed in business. Mine have always been and still are every day.
Going into business has advantages and disadvantages. If you are a family man/woman, the risk is greater, but the reward is greater still. I always thought that having kids makes my business success greater as my three kids also enjoy the rewards of my success every day. I am happy, they are happy and I increase the chance they will one day possess the skills to run their own businesses after having a good role model.