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Being an entrepreneur is relentless, dynamic and hard work, but for those who are also parents, the work-life balancing act is a whole other ball game.
This Father’s Day, we speak to a number of Shopify merchants to get their take on how they balance between fatherhood and entrepreneurship – and why family experiences are the best gift this Father’s Day.
Founder and CEO, Alon Tamir at tech accessory brand Studio Proper, says much of the credit to balancing parenting and entrepreneurship goes to his wife Rachel.
“My belief is the notion of balance is a somewhat false goal, my preference is to seek the best possible parenting/entrepreneurship integration,” Alon says.
“In my experience, this is best achieved by way of clear and transparent communication with my kids, allowing them to feel a part of my entrepreneurial journey as much as possible.”
Alon says the often long hours, and strange time zone calls taken at home, can be educational and hopefully instill an understanding of what ‘hard work’ looks like.
“Weekends are also hugely important, with time dedicated to getting out of the house as a family, removing all work distractions and simply having fun,” he adds.
Alon says the best memories are always created through shared experiences.
“Material gifts are nice, but experiences that can be enjoyed by the whole family spending time together are more meaningful in every way.
“Any opportunity to get everyone off their screens and into a shared experience is hugely valuable. And let’s be honest, there are only so many ties and socks a dad needs.”
Marc Abrahams, Owner and Creative Director of jewellery brand, Erstwilder, says he balances parenting and entrepreneurship carefully as it is something every parent grapples with.
“There will always be an internal conflict around where to focus my time. Though for me, there is an underlying principle that applies to both business and family life.
“Our mission at Erstwilder is to spark joy. It is much the same at home,” Marc says.
Marc explains he tries to ensure he finds opportunities for those moments of joy with his family – “my wife and my kids”.
“I would love to spend all my time with the kids and give them all of me, but that is not the reality of life as a Dad and entrepreneur. I find balance by ensuring that whether I am working or playing with my little ones I am bringing that sense of joyfulness and delight,” he says.
When discussing Father’s Day presents, Marc finds physical gifts truly wonderful when personal and thoughtful.
“Our community often gifts our designs to their Dads, Mums, and family and friends because they find real meaning in our characters and their character stories.
“Nostalgia is built into our designs, making our product much more than an accessory. That said, at the end of the day, we are all here for a time, and there is nothing you take with you. And a good life is far better measured by the journey than the things we accumulate.
“That is what makes family experiences so wonderful. They are chances to switch off from work, to really focus on family and to create the memories that truly make life worth living,” he adds.
When Nik Robinson, Director at sustainable sunglasses brand Good Citizens sat his family around the dinner table and discussed starting his business, he knew he wanted the kids to be involved in the business. Especially given the brand is about the greater good, with each piece of eyewear made out of recycled plastic bottles.
“Every dinner time, we chat about what’s happened in the day and ask the kids their opinions on decisions. We actually really enjoy working together as a family and sparking ideas off each other – the kids have the best ideas.”
Nik says the hard bit is not discussing the business.
“In the early stages, I massively struggled to separate work and home,” he explains. “It took 2,500+ failed attempts and 752 days to finally turn a plastic bottle into a pair of sunnies.
“Hiding the stress from the kids was hard, but we had to remind ourselves that we were parents first and to prioritise their wellbeing.”
Nik says family experiences are a wonderful gift for Father’s Day, as it is about using those special occasions to stop what we’re doing and focus on making memories.
“As adults, we get so consumed in our own world of ‘busy’ that we forget what matters most; time with our loved ones,” he says.
For this Father’s Day, Nik says his family will cycle in convoy from Balmain across the Anzac Bridge and round to the Opera House and back, via Betty’s Burgers to scoff milkshakes, chips and burgers.
“Sometimes it’s the simplest of things you remember the most,” he says.
Michael M., Co-Founder, Beard and Blade
Michael, Co-founder of men’s grooming products Beard & Blade, says as a father, entrepreneurship has the luxury of flexibility.
“I’m mostly able to choose my hours. If there are school drop-offs, kids commitments, I am generally the one to be able to do it. Working for someone else typically has less flexibility which would make managing things tough,” he says.
However, the catch to this flexibility can be unusual hours, and that Michael rarely “switches off”.
“I can work very early in the morning straight out of bed before the kids are up or late at night when the kids are asleep. Overall, I wouldn’t have it any other way, and when I think about it, even before kids, as an entrepreneur I never really “switched-off.” I think it’s just how we entrepreneurs tick.”
When it comes to Father’s Day, Michael gets the rare chance to unwind and switch off with his family.
“I rarely buy things for myself, so I do get spoiled with gifts, some edible, some more functional, and overall make a great Father Day experience, and what Dad doesn’t like being spoiled on Father Day?,” Michael says.
Jason Daniel, founder and CEO at clothing brand LSKD, says he spends time planning to make sure he allocates quality time for his family.
“Especially when I get home from the office and make sure I focus on the kids. We also have to balance staying fit and healthy which both my wife and I are very passionate about. We love to involve our kids in anything we do when out chasing the vibe.
“I could not thank my amazing wife Ally enough for the support she gives,” Jason says.
Jason shares how he works a lot of hours during the week, so being able to spend time with his family on a weekend especially Father’s Day is an amazing experience and something he cherishes.
“I have found having kids really keeps you grounded and always reminds you what is most important,” Jason adds.
Andy Worley, Co-Founder and CEO at linen brand The Sheet Society, says balancing parenting and entrepreneurship is about trying to be consistent.
“I draw the line at 5pm, work stops to pick the kids up from daycare. Having that hard cut off to the day, I find encourages me to be much more efficient with time and tasks throughout the day.
“Leaving work on time helps set a good example to our team, no one feels obliged to stick around, and the place is a ghost town by 5:10 which I love to see, it’s just a little thing that contributes to our culture at Sheet Society,” Andy says.
In the earlier years of the business, Andy explains it was very hard to switch off in the evenings and weekends.
“I work four days a week and have my ‘dads day’ at home with Mila our 6-month-old on Wednesdays, and I’m loving the opportunity to spend this time as just the two of us, and giving my wife Hayley an extra day working,” he says.
Andy also prefers experiences over presents for Father’s Day, as he feels presents can be easily forgotten.
“Getting out and experiencing things together is so much more valuable. Creating memories with the kids and spending time together. When I think back to why we’re working so hard to build our business, it’s because it allows us the freedom to spend more time together as a family.
“The fun in experiences for me now is the joy I see in the kids, watching them explore and see new things for the first time, it’s priceless,” he says.