Just like the life of an entrepreneur, being a parent can be unpredictable, challenging and sometimes, require some outside advice to make sure you’re doing everything right. In the spirit of World Parents' Day July 23, we reached out to the members of our community juggling both parenting and living the startup life for their insights, counsel and lessons learned.
Seth Says: Being a co-founder and a parent are pretty much the same thing; we are making this sh** up as we go.
While there are a million books on how to raise a kid, there isn’t one that tells you exactly how to raise your own kid. Your own kid never reacts the way the book said they would and then you’re back to square one or looking for another book. Every kid is different, but at the end of the day, what is the same is the principles behind the parenting: Love them with all that you have, be their parent and not their friend, teach them how to believe in themselves. Show them how to smile, and enjoy them every day.
Now go back and replace every “kid or family” reference I made with a startup reference. GrowIt! isn’t an improvement over anything. It was created out of nothing to solve a looming problem for a 35 billion dollar industry. There are no books that teach you how to create a social platform for plants, get thousands of people to use it and then monetize it. There are different books for different parts, but none that apply completely. So I use what is in my brain and I communicate with my co-founder and team openly and often. I make sure to love my startup with all that I have, make tough decisions, empower the team, make sure we smile and enjoy every day.
So I use what is in my brain and I communicate with my co-founder and team openly and often. I make sure to love my startup with all that I have, make tough decisions, empower the team, make sure we smile, and enjoy every day.
Seth Reed is the Co-Founder of GrowIt, a free mobile app that gives you access to a community for people who like plants. Find great plants by attribute or get your plants identified by the community. | @GrowIt
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Leeatt Says: Life as a mom and entrepreneur is rich, to say the least. The entrepreneurial side ensures plenty of ups and downs.
Daily excitements and disappointments as I explore product/market fit, find early customers, cultivate relationships with early adopters, etc. It's never a dull moment one year post-launch. There are always new experiences, feelings and to-dos. The Chicago women's business community has been so supportive - always offering new tools, tips and resources.
On top of [my business], I am the proud mom of three kids under 2-and-a-half. Life is awesome and awe-inspiring. Delivering twin boys at 34 weeks, shortly after I launched my business, was crazy and exciting. We were sending out hundreds of gift boxes for the holiday season while my boys were still in the NICU. I am truly on a tandem adventure with my business and kids. They keep me on my toes and remind me what really matters in life - family, friends and health.
My kids ensure I keep my priorities straight, that I strive to be a better person, and that I find humor in life. They remind me that first and foremost I am a mom, wife and friend. If I have that right, I'll have the right perspective to be a good CEO, and make Packed with Purpose everything I envision it will become.
[My kids] remind me that first and foremost I am a mom, wife and friend. If I have that right, I'll have the right perspective to be a good CEO, and make Packed with Purpose everything I envision it will become.
Leeatt Rothschild is the Founder and CEO of Packed with Purpose, a specialty gifting company that generates social impact. The products provide young women with job skills, train homeless youth, reduce landfill waste, offer the formerly incarcerated new opportunities and more. | @packedwithpurpose
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Steve Says: My kids were part of the reason I started Trunq.
I saw that they captured their whole lives on their devices, but they lacked a special place to save their favorite electronic items privately. That led to building Trunq, a unique private messaging and scrapbook app. My kids and their friends helped design and test the app, and it was fun to include them in the development process.
One thing I learned, however, is not to go overboard with involving your kids with your startup. When you are trying to make your startup succeed, you become immersed, and it can seep into your interactions with your kids. But your children simply may not have the same enthusiasm about the startup world as you do. One day I offered to take my son to 1871 to see all of the amazing startup activity taking place. I thought he would be excited, but he preferred to stay home. Around the same time, my daughter called me out by observing that when I was with her I only wanted to talk about Trunq. That is when I pledged to dial back my Trunq work around the kids and spend more quality time with them doing what they wanted to do. It’s not always easy unplugging from the startup, but it’s necessary because you won’t get the quality moments with your children back if you miss them.
It’s not always easy unplugging from the startup, but it’s necessary because you won’t get the quality moments with your children back if you miss them.
Startups are hard, and no doubt they are harder if you have parental responsibilities. But startup performance at the cost of missing out on family life is failure.
Steve Wernikoff is the Founder and CEO of Trunq, your Digital Shoebox. Trunq combines messaging and cloud storage to help transform piles of digital files into a private digital scrapbook. Users can capture or upload videos, pictures and other digital items with a quick snap. | @wern
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Matthew Says: There is no rulebook — other than the law — when it comes to starting a company or raising kids. There are a million "how-to" books out there but none have all the answers.
It become obvious pretty quick that no "standard way of doing things" is worth much. Just do your best every day and hope it works out. If you don't know your strengths and weaknesses before you become an entrepreneur and/or a parent, you learn them pretty quick. Once you do learn them, the best thing to do is make them work to your advantage, and get help when and where you need it — and you will need it. The best adventure in life is being a part of it all and watching them grow and become something more than you imagined they would be — and that statement works just as well when talking about both your company and your kids.
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Zak Says: While trying to build a startup you have to accept that there's going to be some imbalance in your life.
You're going to be spending a lot of time away from home, so you need to make sure of a few things:
You have your family's buy-in. Your family needs to understands why you are away, what you're trying to accomplish and they must support you. Just as important as having buy-in from your employees, board members, investors, etc. — you need to have buy-in from your family, too.
Time is not wasted. If you're spending a lot of time away from home you need to make sure the time away is used wisely and effectively. Wasted time at work is just time you've cheated your family out of.
Time when home is quality-time. You have to make sure you can leave work at work and when you're spending time with your family you're giving them 100% of YOU - time at home needs to be quality time. Your family does not deserve less of your best than your startup does, they deserve more.
Zak Kates is the Founder of FitLocal, a fun way for people to organize and discover fitness activities. Whether you want to play a team sport, go for a run with others or try a fitness class, use Fit Local to connect with other active people. | @zakkates
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Erica Says: Being an entrepreneur and a mother is hard work, but fun as well.
I always dedicate time to my 2 year old daughter, June, as well as my two pups, Ashley and Einstein. Every morning I drive or walk June to her nursery school and pick her up … with very few exceptions. Between when she comes home from school and bedtime, we play, read or just hangout. My wish for June is for her to be her own person, and if she should choose to be an entrepreneur then that’s fantastic. To encourage exploration, we read inspiring children’s stories. Our favorites include She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and What Do You Do With an Idea by Kobi Yamada. The moral of these stories is to change the world with your resolve & ideas and I hope that I’m demonstrating that notion to her through Pet Gotcha Day!™.
Erica Bishaf is the Founder of Pet Gotcha Day, which exists to increase pet adoptions and reduce the incidence of euthanasia nationwide through empowering animal welfare organizations with revolutionary 360-degree video technology that will engage, delight and motivate potential adopters as they watch immersive videos of adoptable pets. | @petgotchaday
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Amy Says: Being a working mom is hard. Being an entrepreneur is hard. Sometimes, I think I must be nuts to do both at the same time.
Good thing my husband has a flexible job (just kidding…he’s a brain surgeon…literally). We joke that we have too many balls in the air, but don’t want to put any of them down right now (not permanently, anyway). Here’s my best advice for folks who want to be parents and entrepreneurs:
Make your home life as geographically compact as possible. I am the queen of running out for an hour when needed, coming back, working more, running home to be on time for the nanny, then logging on again after the kids are in bed. It’s neither easy nor relaxing, but it works … with a short commute. A robust and reliable support network is key. Paid caregivers, family members, friends, neighbors. You need Plans A, B and C. It really does take a village. Do not lose your sense of humor. This is essential! As Nike says: Just Do It!!! Parents make great entrepreneurs.
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Barbara Says: In my life as a parent, an entrepreneur, and even core to the mission of my business – is that we all need to make deposits before we can expect to make a withdrawal.
Raising my kids, I would teach them that they couldn’t always just ask for money, for a ride, or for a favor without first making a deposit to the family. It could be unstacking the dishwasher or taking out the garbage, without having to be told. This holds true in our lives as entrepreneurs. We always need to reach out for help, advice, connections, relationships and we to must give back to others who need the same. And, my business, Purse Strings, is all about being financially fearless! You need to make those deposits, or investments, for yourself, so that when you need to make a withdrawal – it’s there! Making deposits or contributions is about investing in a relationship, modeling respect, sharing your gifts and being willing to see the value in giving instead of just taking.
Making deposits or contributions is about investing in a relationship, modeling respect, sharing your gifts and being willing to see the value in giving instead of just taking.
I’ve taught my children the value of contributing to the family as well as the world. I believe it’s what makes the world go ‘round.
Barbara Provost is the Founder of Purse Strings, a network of Financial and Insurance Professionals who have been especially accredited to advise women and help them achieve their financial goals with their unique needs and lifestyles in mind. | @pursestringsco
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While World Parents' Day celebrates the adults who (attempt) to keep the children's lives in order, most would agree that at the end of the day, the kids come first. With that in mind, check out some of the members of the 1871 community who are working day-in and day-out to make families' lives easier and more fun.
- Leche Libre - Leche Libre is an edgy apparel brand which empowers women to confidently breastfeed whenever they want, wherever they go in effortless style.
- KaZoom Digital Publishing - A multicultural, digital-interactive children’s book publishing company bringing books and stories with diverse characters to kids.
- GoNanny - GoNanny is a ridecare service for kids. Designed by childcare experts with over five decades of combined experience, the company helps busy parents tackle the child transportation crisis by providing quality care from point A to point B and beyond.
- Chicago Super Sitters - Chicago Super Sitters connects parents to experienced, trustworthy and dependable babysitters in Chicago.
- Jugl - Jugl makes it easier for working parents to manage household schedules, logistics and information.