Written by Jaime Brugueras, CEO of Mineful
Starting a business and having children will change your life in different but great ways. You want to work hard on your new idea without sacrificing the time your family deserves. Unfortunately, you can’t wait 12 months to generate revenue since you have to pay the mortgage and provide for the family. How can you balance both? I have asked this question to myself and other entrepreneurs who have young children. This article puts together common practices shared by these successful and balanced parent-entrepreneurs.
1. Create your plan before anything else Before giving up any current sources of revenue and putting your family through this adventure, you have to plan. Write down your idea (or all possible ideas), competitive advantage, marketing plan, sales strategy, and other important strategic plans. Talk it over with family, friends, neighbors, and anyone you know that has started a business or is in a related field. You don’t need a full blown business plan, just a document that will help you align your strategic goals. Get as much feedback as you can. Talk about your idea and see how your “pitch” starts to sound. Do people get it? Would anyone use it?
2. Build it or they won’t come Time at work is time you do not spend with your children. When at work, there is greater pressure to be more productive. Once you have your plan of attack written down, take the big step and convert your idea into a product or service. The key in this step is building only the essential product features in the least amount of time. You don’t need all the bells and whistles, just enough to provide real benefit to your client. In order to build your idea efficiently author Scott Belsky in “Making Ideas Happen” suggests 5 key tips:
- Dedicate time during the day to long-term projects that require research and deep thought without email or phone call interruptions
- Write down your action steps and put all other non-urgent tasks into a backburner list
- Schedule short meetings with defined agendas
- Create guidelines to do your “insecurity work”, (stuff we do that does not move the ball forward and yet we do it multiple times)
- stick with your idea and concentrate on execution.
3. Listen to Improve Great ideas do not come from others’ opinions but can be improved by them. As Seth Godin writes here: Netflix tests everything, but renting DVDs over mail was not a business model that Netflix tested. Leads and clients won’t give you the insight for a great business model, but they will give you insights into how to tweak your idea to make it better, friendlier, and faster. It is important to generate leads/buzz through your network, with keyword rich pages, online ads if budget permits, and other creative ways. The important thing is to listen, listen, and listen to the response. Put an accessible phone number and a contact us form on your page. Encourage anyone that tries your product to provide feedback either on the phone, on your website, or through short online surveys. These clients do not only provide useful feedback, but might be purchasing from your company and providing the sources of revenue you need to keep everyone at home calm.
4. Develop popular and distinctive feature requests Knowing that one needs to provide for the family, it might be tempting to develop things for people who agree to pay for them. At Mineful, we fell prey of this but were able to change how we dealt with this situation. Now our team shares a spreadsheet that contains all the product features anyone has ever mentioned to us. It is separated by categories and contains the number of times someone has requested a specific feature. Once every other month, we visit this list and prioritize it according to the number of people requesting it and the impact we think it will have on the business. This has turned out to be a great exercise in converting leads into customers and making current customers much happier.
5. Balance Finally, but most importantly, is to maintain balance in life. Most parents renew their energy when they are around their kids. Personally, I have used my kids as an inspiration to move forward without sacrificing the time I spend with them. I fit my work schedule to allow evening time with them and separate Saturdays and Sundays only to them, no work. Their innocence and creativity has inspired some of Mineful’s product features, slogans, and articles (including this one). Martin Floreani, founder of Flocasts, suggests to me that balance comes from “making sure that your business does not overtake your life and is the means by which your family benefits”. His passion can sometimes lead him to spend more and more time on the business, but by putting himself in check he makes sure he keeps a healthy perspective. I always remind myself that my kids are the future. It is now up to me to feed their creativity and help them become a better version of me.
Jaime Brugueras is the CEO of Mineful, a company that, “helps you collect, integrate, analyze, and visualize data to help you with today’s decisions and tomorrow’s possibilities. “