When I was a young girl, I spent my summers helping my mom run our family’s toy store. Over the years, I was put in charge of everything from manning the cash register to driving sales to overseeing staff. This experience led me to develop a strong passion for entrepreneurship. If it weren’t for the many summers I spent selling toys, I definitely wouldn’t have become a business owner myself.
Today, I’m a mom introducing entrepreneurship to my children. Watching my boys’ interest in business increase over the years has been fun and rewarding. My 11-year-old son, Kenan, has already begun to blossom. Not only does he accompany me on many business trips, but he’s launched a small business of his own and has set up “headquarters” within my company’s office.
Don’t get me wrong: Parental entrepreneurship isn’t without its challenges. But there are ways to balance being a good parent and a successful business owner.
When you’re running your own company and raising children, there are no set schedules or defined on-call hours. Everything in your life is unpredictable. It’s common to feel guilty for working long hours, traveling too much and missing out on activities with your kids.
Instead of seeking to perfectly balance two separate worlds, recognize that you have the unique opportunity to combine your work and family life. Strive to create a work culture that embraces family and flexibility, whether that means taking time off to see a school play or bringing kids into the office.
When your children can be as much a part of your world as you are of theirs, they’ll have a better understanding of why you work so hard.
I asked Kenan to offer his own advice on how entrepreneurial parents -- and their kids -- can successfully balance work and family. Here are his top five tips (in his own words):
1. Make time for each other every day.
Some parents are really caught up in their business or are traveling a ton and don’t have time to spend with their kids. It’s important to spend at least a little time with your kids every day so they don’t feel left out. It doesn’t matter if you can only play with them for 30 minutes. Even the smallest amount can make a big difference.
2. Show them the world.
When my mom and I went to China for business, she took me to her conferences and to the Great Wall of China. It was a trip I’ll remember for the rest of my life. You should also take your kids along on some of your business trips so they can learn more about the business world and different cultures and see some amazing sites. It will give you a chance to spend quality time together and make lifelong memories.
3. Set up a home office.
Instead of leaving work at 9:30 every night, set up a workspace at home so you can depart whenever you want, be available to your kids and still get some work done if you need to. My parents do this, and I’m comforted to know they’re there for me when I need them.
4. Connect with tech.
When my mom or dad is traveling and can’t take the rest of us along, they make sure to call several times a day and even FaceTime with us so we can see each other and catch up. Being apart is hard, but keeping in touch often makes it a lot easier. There are tons of different options for doing this with your iPhone.
5. Build a special connection.
When you have to be away, look up at the sky and think of it as a giant bridge connecting you to your family. Remembering that you’re looking at the same sky, sun and moon as the rest of your family, no matter where they are, can help everyone get through those hard times of being apart. This is something that’s so simple, but no one notices it.
Following Kenan’s tips will make it easier to have a happy family while running your business. When parents know their kids are satisfied, they can feel good about working hard and creating a great life for their whole family.
This article was co-authored by Kenan Pala, an 11-year-old guitarist, triathlete, trumpeter, traveler and cosmonaut in training. He graduated from fifth grade in 2015 and attended NASA’s United States Space Camp over the summer. Triathletes and his entrepreneurial parents inspire Kenan, and he likes to go on business trips with his mother and explore historic cities.