Entrepreneurship and parenting: time to talk about it!

Entrepreneurship and parenting: time to talk about it!

by Startup Montréal
2 August 2022

Having a startup is a full-time job, just like being a parent. How is it possible to do both at the same time? Although the pandemic has normalized the fact of seeing children appear in conference calls, mixing private life and professional life when working from home, it is still difficult to combine these two spheres as an entrepreneur. This consideration made us want to organize a discussion on this subject during Startup Wednesdays. Samantha Walker, CEO and Co-Founder, Mia, Jérémi Lavoie, CEO, AFX Medical and Émily Charry Tissier, CEO and Co-Founder, Whale Seeker participated in the discussion.

What are the biggest challenges to reconcile parenting and entrepreneurship?

For a long time, Samantha had two screens when she worked: one for her computer and the other one a baby monitor. This business executive and mother of a five-year-old girl started her business project immediately after her parental leave. She often had to deal with sleeping hours turned upside down by a child’s frequent awakenings.

Living with a lack of sleep

Lack of sleep is extremely difficult to overcome,” added Jérémi, a father of two children who today are 3 and 8 years old. His younger child was born a few months after he founded his company. He therefore didn’t take official leave and had to spend many sleepless nights in this context.

Bruno is also very familiar with this reality. “My baby, like many others, had trouble sleeping. Fairly often, I put him in a baby carrier while I was working. This was my way of giving my spouse some respite. “

Being physically and mentally present in two places at the same time is a real challenge for our entrepreneurs. Telework has made it more difficult to set up a boundary between work and family.

Creating a separation between work and family.

“Not being able to separate work and family easily is a major source of anxiety for us,” explains Samantha, who is now 8 months pregnant. It’s already difficult to stay focused when the baby kicks during a meeting. She’s therefore worried about how she will manage these two spheres when the baby arrives.

What are the tips to favour a better alignment between parenting and entrepreneurship?

Experienced parents came to Samantha’s rescue and generously shared the techniques they used to favour healthy networking between parenting and entrepreneurship.

  • The importance of building a good support network to deal with the unexpected as was the case during the pandemic.
  •  Define a clear schedule to avoid overlaps between the two roles.
  • Don’t hesitate to use the flexibility that comes with being your own boss: delegate, take leave, etc.
  • Sometimes know how to review your expectations based on your priorities.

Is it really possible to both be a good parent and succeed in business?

Very often, the media still convey models of entrepreneur parents who seem to have given everything to the business to the detriment of their family life. However, our guests agree in affirming that it’s possible. Here are the considerations that accompanied this position.

First there is the concept of choice, which is an integral part of the equation between parenting and entrepreneurship. Inevitably there will be times in a business executive’s career that he or she will have to define a priority between family and work. You can ask yourself this question to facilitate your reasoning?

“At the end of my life, what will count the most? The fact I was a success in business or the fact I developed a good relationship with my children? “

The answer to this question can help restore a balance that makes success possible in both roles.

Seeing the similarities between these two spheres of life lets you derive the benefits. Becoming aware of this lets you be a better parent and a better entrepreneur. This is a concrete way to save precious time that contributes to success in all spheres combined.

Can being a parent help you become a better leader and vice versa?

Our guests had good arguments to show how these two roles can influence each other positively.

How can your role as a parent positively influence your role as a business leader?

Being a parent can contribute to learning real listening and empathy. It then becomes easier to show compassion to your employees or colleagues and this helps you be less judgmental.

Parenting is a life experience that lets you open up to new perspectives: the notion of absolute control no longer exists with children and you can’t foresee when and how a child will arrive in this world. This experience favours a search for solutions. You become more agile in providing for a plan A, B, C or K, which also plays on the management styles that an entrepreneur may develop and use.

Becoming a parent takes a lot of time: entrepreneurs must learn to organize their time better to combine the two roles.

Another interesting parallel to make between a parent’s role and a business executive’s role is the notion of permanence that accompanies these roles: a business is like a baby that you see grow, fail, win, live and sometimes even die.

How does the role of business leader positively influence a parent’s role?

Having a child helps you project yourself into the future and awakens the desire of some entrepreneurs to have an impact through their professional activities. This is the case for Émilie, who cares about leaving a better world for her children by working on a project that offers concrete solutions to certain environmental and societal issues.

The personal fulfilment that a business project allows is profitable for the family: even though it’s demanding and difficult, being an entrepreneur is very gratifying…A little like being a parent!


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