The Striking Similarities Between Being a Parent and an Entrepreneur We all know both are hard, but what does it take to do both concurrently?

By Jim Joseph

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Being a parent is definitively the toughest job on earth. American Greetings captured it best in the campaign, "World's Toughest Job," for Mother's Day.

Most of us have no idea what it's like to be a parent until we are actually a parent. And then it's too late! When that baby comes, it hits you like a whirlwind -- and that's just the beginning for moms and dads.

Related: 5 Ways to Help Your Kids Imagine Themselves as Entrepreneurs

When you think about a parent's job description, a few things come to mind:

  • High-pressure situations at any given notice
  • Continual, unbearable stress
  • No credit ever
  • Managing difficult personalities
  • Strained communications no matter how hard you try

Let's be honest, there are many days when the downside feels like it far outweighs the upside, and there's no pay!

You have to stick with it for the long haul, despite the long days, endless nights and the blurring of it all.

But there is also great indescribable joy, and truth be told, it goes by in a flash. Trust me, I know. My children are now 22 and 20 years old.

Now try throwing being a small-business owner or entrepreneur into the mix and you've got double duty. Most of us have no idea what that's going to be like either, until we are in the middle of it.

When I left a big corporate job to start my own agency, I had no idea what I was in for. Looking back I'm not sure how I had the guts to even think about doing it.

The characteristics of being a parent and an entrepreneur are actually strikingly similar: long days, endless nights and the continual blurring of it all.

Related: 7 Secrets to Finding Harmony in Work and Life

Thinking about the job descriptions, notice any other similarities? There is pressure, stress, you get no credit, it's difficult and you'll be strained.

How on Earth can you be an entrepreneur and a parent at the same time? These two things seem to be diametrically opposed.

But there are some striking differences:

  • As a parent, you hands get dirty.
  • As an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to do just about anything to get through the day.
  • As a parent, sometimes there isn't even enough time to shower.
  • As an entrepreneur, you have to work with a very limited budget and make your funds go far.

Strike that, maybe there aren't so many differences and maybe they are quite compatible. There is one big difference though: your kids grow up. Actually, if you manage it well, your business grows up too.

The point here is that it takes a very certain personality, disposition and drive to be a parent or an entrepreneur -- and a whole lot of determination to be both. I've been through the entire gamut, having sold off my agency years ago and with both of my kids now in their 20s.

You'll get to the other side too, if you're not already there. Sometimes it feels like you may not make it, but just keep up the determination and you will.

Related: How the Most Successful Working Mothers Get the Most Out of Their Days

Jim Joseph

Marketing Master - Author - Blogger - Dad

Jim Joseph is a commentator on the marketing industry. He is Global President of the marketing communications agency BCW, author of The Experience Effect series and an adjunct instructor at New York University.

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