Being an entrepreneur is hard, but being a parent (one of the toughest jobs in the world) and running your own business at the same time is even harder.
While most people would assume that combining children and a career in tech could end up being a hindrance, it’s actually a boost to an entrepreneur’s bottom line if they can manage to pull it off.
The startup life usually comes with late nights, negligible pay and unpredictable schedules. That added stress can easily become overwhelming. For some founders being a parent is a boon because it forces them to be smarter, faster and better at prioritizing what really matters in life and work.
“The best part is that you get to cut the crap out of your life — no watching YouTube or on Reddit when I’m at work,” explains Matthew Karabela, co-founder of Fetchit. The DMZ-based startup connects businesses and Canadians with pick-up drivers, truckers and other hauling equipment operators from across the country.
“Having kids teaches you how to give [work] your all when you have free time and really focus.”
Karabela’s company – which he describes as an “Uber for pickups and deliveries” – is especially unique in the startup ecosystem because two out of three of its founders are parents. “Not many companies have one founder with kids and we have two but it hasn’t stopped us from being successful.”
Since launching last year, Fetchit has seen its membership increase to 1600 users, partnered with over 20 businesses in Toronto, and now has approximately 220 drivers using its service. Despite its early success, the father of two is quick to admit that his company gains didn’t come easy.
Having an eight month old and toddler at home means he’s missed a few bed night stories throughout the year, which has also coincidentally made him a master at multitasking.
Changing nappies with one hand while holding town hall meetings or working late into the night to accommodate sick kids comes with the territory, he says. “It’s hard work, that’s true, but I wouldn’t change anything” he explains. “When you think about it like a business, raising kids gives you a better return in the long run. My family makes me a better person.”
Sharn Kandola, cofounder of real estate startup Feed Duck and mother of two, believes the difficulties that go along with raising kids sometimes overshadows how beneficial they can be for a founder’s business.
In the startup world, where networking is a crucial part of the biz, being a parent can open up social and professional circles in a way that cocktail mixers and after-hour meet-and-greets can’t. “You meet so many people just by going to parent events or school activities,” she explains.
Parenthood also helps entrepreneurs stand out among the competition and be a better boss.
“Being a parent gives you a better perspective, because you know what it’s like to lead and guide someone else,”
Kandola later adds: “If you’re an entrepreneur and a parent you can help support other entrepreneurs and your business as a whole because you spend so much of your time doing it at home.”
For Karabela, balancing both worlds and the responsibilities that go along with it requires hard work. Unlike at regular nine-to-five jobs, sick leave is poor and maternity leave almost non-existent. Understanding your personal limitations, leaning on friends and making exceptions in the short-term to help your business get ahead should be a given.
Kandola agrees. The entrepreneur wakes up early so she can focus on her business and get a head start on the day. A 5 a.m. wake up call during the work week might be daunting for some but it’s one of the few constants in her busy, hectic life that ensures that her business doesn’t suffer if her family needs her.
“You make sacrifices for what matters. It’s no different from what other entrepreneurs have to do.”