Dads as Entrepreneurs


Starting a business can be as much of a life-changing experience as having children. Your life is never the same. As Father's Day approaches, mothers and their sons and daughters will look to appropriately honor and celebrate the dads in their lives. Fathers who run their own businesses frequently struggle to balance their work responsibilities and their family time.

Entrepreneurship is often a 24/7 engagement. Small business owners, particularly those who are sole proprietors or in the launch stage of their companies, wind up doing much of the work themselves. This includes the operation, sales, advertising and public relations, client relations, accounting, and capital-raising required to start a business and keep it afloat.  When a company enters growth stages, the pressure is on to keep things moving forward.  Many small business owners are challenged to "turn it off" when they come home. It's not easy to do so.

Meanwhile, family obligations do not go away.  In fact, many dads who run their own companies set appointments in their calendars in order to spend time with their families. Cell phones make them reachable if they have to leave their business early because a child is sick or has a school function or outside activity to attend.

"Any small company owner faces the work vs. family life conundrum. More women are employed full-time outside the home than ever before.  Thus, work-life balance is a challenge for both moms and dads. Decades ago, women were expected to take care of everything related to the family.  Responsibilities are shared now," says John Mooney, founder of Over The Moon Public Relations, which specializes in helping small companies grow.

"Time-shifting is a good strategy. Technology enables small business owners to be able to attend children's events or have perhaps have an increasingly rare family dinner together," said Mooney, who started his company in 2005.  "The trade-off is that cell phones and tablets also make entrepreneurs accessible all the time.  In 21st century business, there's no more 'packing up at 5 pm' and shutting down for the weekend."

Entrepreneur dads who have school-age children often find work-life balance particularly challenging to achieve.  Meanwhile, the children of Baby Boomers are seeing their fathers retiring... and then sometimes starting their own businesses.

The Baby Boom generation (people born between 1946 and 1964), still are the largest segment of the American population.  Almost 80 million individuals comprise this group.  In recent years, these workers have left the workforce, either by retiring at age 65 or by taking buy-outs.  However, this generation has long time refused to "act its age."  It comes as little surprise that many of Baby Boomers have pursued second careers as entrepreneurs.

A 2009 study by the Kauffman Foundation research found that increasingly Baby Boomers sought to start their own businesses.  A striking statistic: in every single year from 1996 to 2007, Americans aged 55 -64 had a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20 - 34.

A couple reasons for late life entrepreneurship are the economy has changed and fewer companies have "lifetime" employees anymore. Once the norm, long-term employment with one company has fallen dramatically over the past few decades. Meanwhile, people are not only living longer, they are experiencing greater health in their later years. Additionally, the recession negatively impacted retirement savings for millions of Americans.

The challenges for mature entrepreneurs have been reduced in the same way that they have for the young. Technology has lowered barriers to entry for entrepreneurs of every age.  Adults over 50 have become more Internet savvy than before.  They are using the web to investigate franchise opportunities and research the marketplace for startup company business plans.  Further, technology helps them research funding opportunities and enables them to apply for startup loans and other financing.  It takes less time and requires a lot less effort to look for and find lenders who are willing to fund new businesses.

No matter what age they are, successful entrepreneur dads set an example for their sons and daughters.  From their fathers, children often learn their work ethic, the sense of accomplishment of building something, the value of earning an honest dollar, how to take calculated risks, and the sense of accomplishment of a job well done.

Father's Day is a perfect time to appreciate the sweat equity that entrepreneur dads put into building their businesses and recognize the challenges that go into making a company -- and a home life -- successful.

Rohit Arora is co-founder and CEO of Biz2Credit, an online credit marketplace that connects small- and medium-sized businesses with a network of 1,200+ lenders, service providers, and complementary business tools.  Having arranged $800 million in funding, Biz2Credit is a leading resource for loans, lines of credit, working capital and more.  Follow Rohit on Twitter @Biz2Credit and on Facebook.