(Today’s guest post come from Aaron Smith who works with 1Heart Franchise, providing senior care services. This is especially important for my coaching clients who wish to venture out and start their own private medical practice.)
If you’re considering starting a business — opening up a private practice, starting your first law firm, or venturing into the world of entrepreneurship — you should carefully consider how your new career trajectory will impact your family.
In order to successfully balance both family life and successful business ownership, new entrepreneurs should set (and enforce) boundaries, assign roles within their families, communicate openly, manage finances responsibly, hire a supportive team, plan for emergencies early on, create succession plans, and learn from the experts who came before them.
In this guide, we’ll break down what each of these must-dos looks like in more detail. Our tips will help you manage your business successfully without sacrificing your family (and vice versa).
Before you take any of the first steps toward business ownership, set clear boundaries that define how you’ll divide your time.
Your plan should account for:
- Work time – Set a schedule for yourself the same way you’d set one for an employee — consider setting a hard clock-out time each day.
- Family time – How much time will you need to give your partner and/or children the support they deserve? In order to maintain family stability, you’ll have to devote some of your time to being a supportive partner and/or parent.
- Fun time – If you expend all of your energy on work and family responsibilities, you’ll burn out fast. Set aside dedicated breaks for rest, like a long weekend or a dedicated phone-free night each week.
Establish Family Roles and Responsibilities
While you’re making new contacts and building your business, your family responsibilities won’t disappear — there will still be laundry and dishes to contend with, entrepreneur or not.
Before you dive headlong into business ownership, create a plan with your partner and children for dividing housework and responsibilities.
If your spouse or older children will play a role in your business, establish those roles and expectations as early as possible. To avoid resentment and prevent burnout, remember to:
- Take autonomy into account – If your spouse or children don’t want to be involved in the business, don’t force them.
- Involve children judiciously – Your primary job as a parent is to let your child be a child. Even if they express interest in helping out, they may not be ready or have time to contribute to the business. Help them make healthy choices.
Communication is key when you start a business, especially for business owners with families. Communicate openly and honestly about:
- Your stress level
- The success of your business
- Your business’s financial health
- Your succession plan (more on this later)
- Any conflicts or emotional distress you’re facing
Bottling up important information as a business owner has the potential to hurt both your professional pursuits and your family relationships. Establish expectations for communication, and stick to them.
Manage Finances Responsibly
It’s critical that you protect your family’s financial health as you start a business. Whether you personally fund your venture, seek investor buy-in, or apply for a business loan, you should take every possible precaution to shield your family from financial liability should your business falter or face litigation.
Do your best to keep business profits in business accounts, even if it means living paycheck to paycheck for a while. You should also consider:
- Hiring a CPA or another accounting professional to ensure compliance with financial regulations
- Adjusting your end-of-life paperwork (like your Will) to account for any business financials that might impact your family when you pass away
Hire a Supportive Team
Hiring a high-quality team can make or break your business’s success, but it can also help you maintain work-life and work-family balances. When you have good help, you can delegate tasks anytime you need to unexpectedly leave the office to tend to family matters.
For instance, if you start a senior care franchise, you might prioritize hiring:
- A customer service manager
- An on-call nurse or healthcare professional
- Quality nursing and specialist staff
- An administrative assistant
These staff can help you manage your business needs while you’re on the clock and off the clock — and your family will be as grateful for their support as you are.
Plan for Emergencies Early
As soon as you set your plans in motion, it’s time to invest in more planning. Prepare for emergencies as thoroughly as possible so that you and your family can respond swiftly to unforeseen events.
Consider incorporating the following into your emergency planning:
- Emergency funds – Make sure you maintain a personal savings account that you and your family can use if the business goes under or performs below expectations.
- Financial literacy – While it’s critical to teach your kids about money in any scenario, this is especially important for entrepreneurs with families. Your children will eventually be old enough to participate in your family’s financial recovery if you pass away or the business underperforms — give them the tools they need to contribute effectively.
- Legal protections – Especially if you’re in an industry that entails professional risk (like medicine), consider retaining an attorney for any unexpected legal needs.
Invest in Succession Planning
What will happen to your business when it’s time to retire? What if you pass away suddenly at the height of your business’s success?
A good succession plan should answer both of these questions and more.
Quality succession plans are:
- Legally binding
- Reviewed and updated regularly
Protect yourself, your business, and your family by making a plan for the end of your career.
Get Advice from Experts
You might be an expert in your field, but are you an expert at entrepreneurship? If not, don’t be afraid to consult your resources:
- Mentors – Consider signing up for a mentorship program after starting your business. Your mentor can serve as a wealth of knowledge and advice as you navigate the early years.
- Books and programs – Check out books and educational programs written for professionals by professionals. You can even return to them after you’re done reading anytime you need a refresher.
- Professional boards – If you’re in a licensed profession, your licensing board may offer support or consulting connections for business owners. Reach out to a licensing representative to learn more about your options.
Starting a business while raising a family isn’t easy — you must carefully manage your time, your finances, your relationships, your responsibilities, and your long-term plan to ensure that both your business and your family thrive.
When you start your own business, you join a long-standing community of ambitious entrepreneurs. Make your mark by keeping up with family responsibilities and reaching out for expert advice when you need it.
(If you need help striking a balance between work life and family time, contact me for consideration of personal one-on-one coaching in my High Performance coaching program. You will achieve a much better balance between work and home life. You should also read The Doctors Guide to Starting Your Practice Right to help you get all the balancing pieces together.)