The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “What are some of the biggest misconceptions about startup life?” is written by Michael Cole, co-founder and CEO of Picniic.
Most people think that in order to have a successful startup company, an entrepreneur needs to be young and single. You must devote all of your time to your business, sacrifice your personal life and friendships, and use weekends and holidays as extra work days. And while much of this is true, I have found that in spite of the hard work and sacrifices, it's my connection to my family that gives me the ability to thrive as an entrepreneur. I would argue that having a family life can help entrepreneurs become even more successful with the added support and happiness families bring.
While being young and single can mean more time to focus on dreams or career goals, it can also mean you have inexperience with certain life lessons. Contrary to what people may perceive as the norm, I became more successful with my last company after I got married and had kids. Now, some may say my success was luck or merely a coincidence, but I believe that it was the addition of my family to my life that made me a better entrepreneur.
Here are some common misconceptions about being an entrepreneur—and a family man—that I know not to be true:
You have to spend a lot of time away from your family
As an entrepreneur, you often work alone, make decisions alone, struggle alone, and quietly celebrate successes alone. But the bottom line is that you can’t do it alone, nor should you.
Having people close to you to keep you on course, encourage you when you face challenges, and cheer you on when you succeed are very valuable assets. It can also be helpful to use your spouse as an idea board to bounce things off of or give you a new perspective on a certain project. Engaging your partner in these discussions gives you the perspective of someone who you likely really value.
Family life can take away too much from your business
Being part of a family requires you to use your time more wisely and effectively. Moving from single life to life with a partner, and then into the role of a parent, forces you to wear many hats. When you are a spouse, parent, and business owner, you learn to take on many responsibilities and become more proficient at managing your multiple roles. Ultimately, you become more competent in determining the best use of your time, and deciding what is worth your time, both at home and at work.
Entrepreneurs are reluctant to ask for help
By nature, entrepreneurs are do-for-themselves kinds of people. Unfortunately, that can mean they don’t always ask for help when they need it. But if you’re going to manage your time effectively, you need to delegate tasks to people you trust.
In the end, delegation will make you more successful because you have trusted a complex task to someone, showing your confidence in their abilities. Asking for help at home lets your family be engaged in supporting you and opens the door for people to ask the same of you. Cooperation and support is what family is all about, and really the foundation of a great business.
Having a family and running your own business gives you zero downtime
Part of managing your time well is knowing when it’s time for a break. Having a family forces you to take downtime. Taking part in family vacations and activities allows you a chance to step away momentarily from the business, to de-stress the mind, to refocus, and to gain a fresh perspective. Even a short break at a soccer game or playing in the backyard gives you an opportunity to remember why you do what you do.
Aspiring family men and women and entrepreneurs can have it all. You can still be a hungry, hard-charging, and successful entrepreneur with a family. A startup founder needs to make sacrifices, but having a family and a balanced family life doesn’t have to be one of those sacrifices. The trick is to find the right balance for you. For me, the balance was to use my family life as inspiration for my career.