5 Leadership Lessons We Could All Learn From My Parenthood Journey Being a parent and an entrepreneur simultaneously is challenging, but full of pure joy. These are a few lessons learned from parenthood that can be useful for any entrepreneur.

By Ahmad Karnama

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I recently became a father to the most beautiful and active girl in the world. At the same time, I decided to push forward with my startup. Such a combination of business and family roles could not be more challenging — yet it's still highly rewarding.

It's a journey full of pure joy, tiredness and, sometimes, disappointment. However, I soon realized that the experience of being a parent gave me a perspective in life that helped me to become more efficient and more successful in my entrepreneurship journey. Here's how.

Related: 10 Reasons Why More Parents Should Become Entrepreneurs

1. Draw your energy from the little things

Taking care of my daughter is sometimes super challenging. I'm supposed to be alert almost all the time and think about many things at once to ensure that she is healthy, happy and successful. Some say parenthood consumes all your energy, and it can — but only if you let it. Find a way to use the joys of parenthood to get your energy back; for example, I get a lot of energy from my daughter's simple smile, and it pays back all my efforts. This is the same for being an entrepreneur.

Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of energy. You get rejected by customers and investors and you need to find the right angle for the business. But I get my energy back after winning a deal or pushing one step forward in the business. This is the moment that I get my energy back! These are small moments that you deserve, and you need to take every small opportunity. Be grateful for the small things so that you draw energy from those moments to push forward through a tough entrepreneurial journey.

Getting your energy back from the small things is an individual experience, but it is a must for your success in your entrepreneurial journey. Find what works for you.

2. Take full control but don't overdo it

Being a father is an end-to-end responsibility. As a father, I am responsible for all aspects of my kid including eating, changing diapers, extra care when she is sick, kindergarten, etc. I may find some breathing time when/if my parents are around to help, but still — I am the main responsible person. However, I know if I do it too much to get control of every single aspect, I will not get the best result.

Being an entrepreneur, you must take end-to-end responsibility for your business. If you are used to 9 to 5 jobs, you are part of an ecosystem to play a small role and leave it to your lead to ensure effectiveness. As an entrepreneur, I need to take care of business development, sales, recruiting, marketing, communication, managing a crisis and all the other relevant aspects of the business. I get support from an excellent team, but I'm the one who still needs to make sure that everything works well and in an efficient manner.

Many entrepreneurs are tempted to become perfectionists or over-controlling. This is when you make things complicated and difficult for yourself and your team. The art of being a successful entrepreneur is to nurture a leadership style in the startup to balance control and delegation.

You need to know that perfectionism and pragmatism are two schools of thought that don't get along very well. But you as an entrepreneur need to get acquainted with both.

Related: 4 Ways Fatherhood Has Made Me a Better Entrepreneur

3. Get ready for disappointments

My daughter, most of the time, doesn't follow my advice to make things easier. This makes me feel disappointed, but I soon realized that this is part of the game of being a parent. There are moments when I feel disappointed and frustrated, but I need to accept that this is part of the nature of being a parent — and an entrepreneur.

The general picture of an entrepreneur is a smile on their face and great satisfaction, but this is not always the case. There are big moments of disappointment for entrepreneurs. Generally, I learned not to expect that all my plans will turn out to work perfectly in my startup. So, I am always prepared with a Plan B. Entrepreneurs are exploring unchartered territories and this is natural to expect that many things would not work as planned. Your best employee might decide to take a new career path, your best investor might decide not to invest in the next investment round, or your best customer might decide to stop buying from you.

You need to accept that there are big moments of disappointment in the entrepreneurship journey, and this is the nature of it. Have your Plan B ready to tackle the challenge and move forward. It always helped me to think that the moments of disappointment would mean something better is waiting for me. For example, if my best employee leaves, I start to think that we might find an even better one or if my customer leaves, I would think that this might open new opportunities for us to find even more relevant customers.

4. Be prepared for evolving challenges

The type of challenges that I encounter as a parent evolves as my kid grows. It was first sleeping problems, then eating, then how to go to kindergarten, then choosing schools, etc. The challenges get resolved, but new ones still come. A 1-year-old kid has much different needs and challenges than a 7-year-old or a teenager.

A company in the seed stage faces many different challenges in comparison with a company in the growth or scaleup phase. You need to always be prepared and be one step ahead in gaining knowledge and information and setting plans for the new upcoming challenge. When I started my first company, I knew that in the growth phase, I would face human resource scarcity. This was not a challenge in the seed phase, but it didn't stop me from planning for it immediately. I started to develop an outsourcing center to address such a challenge very early on. I know that this development of the outsourcing center would require us to have local resources who understand different cultures and have experience with outsourcing, so I adapted our hiring processes accordingly. Therefore, when it came to the growth phase, all my local resources had a good understanding of outsourcing already.

You should always be at least one step ahead to be prepared for evolving challenges. You need to see the bigger picture of what you plan for your startup and know that challenges in the business will not end but evolve from one form to the other.

Related: 5 Tips to Be The Best Par-entrepreneur (Parent Entrepreneur)

5. Take calculated risks

My kid always tries to explore the world by taking calculated risks. For example, she takes the risk of falling by trying to walk and as a result, she learns how to walk. She will not learn if she doesn't take the risk.

There is a big risk of failure in running a business. One should develop a balanced mentality of risk identification and risk management to be a successful entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs should always know the largest risks and develop risk mitigation plans for all. For example, it is not recommended to risk the relationship with your most important investor or customer at almost any cost, but I would risk spending some R&D budget on some unknown areas to get ahead of my competitors.

It would help if you got control over risk in your business, but you always need to take a calculated risk to make any success.

Wavy Line
Ahmad Karnama

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor


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