I just walked into the nursery to peek at my 5-month-old sleeping in his crib. I can’t believe that just a few months ago, my son arrived and life forever changed.
Suddenly, I’m responsible for this tiny human. He depends on me for everything — from nourishment, to learning, to comfort. And, if I parent him well, he’ll get a great start in life.
Um, no pressure AT ALL.
Truthfully, I’ve never felt a bigger weight on my shoulders. Even though I started my business a few years ago, more recently I amped up my client base. And this isn’t easy to do when you need to support a family. But rest assured, it can be done. It just takes a huge leap of faith.
5 Ways You Can Balance Starting a Business and Your Family
If you’re looking to start a business and support a family at the same time, I’m here to encourage you. Here are a few tips that can help you make the jump safely and successfully.
Sit down with your spouse or partner, and get honest about finances.
Take a Sunday afternoon, go for a walk or sit down in a park, and talk about finances. Choose a peaceful environment because this can be a stressful conversation. Then dig into tough questions. Try to answer:
- Will one of you have a stable income? It makes starting a business easier. But, if not, you can still make it work.
- Are both of you committed to the business? You both need to be on board.
- Are you willing to cut back on expenses for a while?
- Do you have an emergency fund? If so, how long will it last? If it only covers a couple of months, you may need to save more first.
- Do you have a budget? And if so, are you willing to make adjustments to it?
I’m a big believer in budgets. When I started my business, my husband and I kept a close eye on our spending. We knew exactly how much we needed each month for our bills. Anything that was leftover was our “allowance.” I actually went to the ATM to get cash for the week. When the cash was gone, that was it. No more coffee or dinners out.
Budgeting forced me to plan ahead and make choices. And, starting a business while supporting a family is all about making choices. If you’re having trouble cutting back, take a close look at what you “need” versus “want.” Even today I make coffee at home, cook meals, and rarely buy new clothes. If I spend less, I have a bigger financial safety net that can support my family.
If you have kids, consider their ages.
There’s no perfect time to start a business. So if you’re considering it, don’t let having kids stop you. That said, do consider your kids’ ages because it might impact your approach to business.
If you have a baby or young kids, family members or other caregivers can usually watch them without much fuss. On the flip side, starting a business means you’ll be very occupied — so you might miss important and memorable bonding time.
If your kids are adolescents, the good news is they’re more independent and childcare is less of a concern. But, they still need a lot of your time and support. After all, adolescents are dealing with puberty, social media comparisons, and emotional changes.
Finally, if your kids have left the home, you’re in luck. You probably have more time to dedicate to your business. But, you might be more concerned about saving for retirement and paying for college. As I said before, there will never be a perfect time to start a business. But, it’s important to think through your family’s needs first.
Get health insurance.
If you support a family, make sure to get health insurance. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever today to find health insurance on your own. First research on your own to make sure you understand the different types of insurance plans and their average costs. After all, this is a big (albeit important) purchase.
The USA.gov Finding Health Insurance web page explains individual coverage versus small business health insurance (for businesses with 50 employees or fewer). It also covers small business tax credits that can help you afford coverage if you have employees.
When you’re ready, find an affordable health plan through your state, government programs, or by going directly to a health insurer or broker. It might take some time and research, but finding the right plan to protect your family is critical.
Make a plan for work/life balance.
When you start a business, it’s tempting to put 100% of yourself into it. But that’s not healthy either. It’s important that you make a plan for work/life balance before you jump into your venture. Ask yourself:
- When will I schedule time off, including holiday time and vacations?
- Where will I work so I can separate family and work life? This is especially important if you work from home.
- When will I work? Sometimes it’s helpful to work when your family sleeps.
- How will I prioritize my relationships? It’s important to keep date nights with your spouse or partner, continue to attend your kids’ events, and spend time with friends.
- How will I de-stress? Make sure to avoid taking stress out on your family. Find a healthy outlet, like yoga, meditation, or exercise.
Be an example of leadership.
I admire business owners; I truly do. And I hope that one day my son will be inspired by my own drive to start a business. I want him to learn that if he works hard and applies his natural talent to a market need, he’ll be successful.
If you’re starting a business and supporting a family, you’re already a great example of leadership. That’s not to be taken lightly. Show your kids what a true leader looks like — the sacrifices they make and the promises they keep. It will make a bigger impact in their lives than you might realize.
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