Two of the most demanding jobs on the planet have more in common than you might think.
Entrepreneurship is among the most fulfilling things a person can do in their lives. Being accountable for a venture’s success or failure and driving its growth into a viable business—your own business—makes many entrepreneurs think of the business as their “baby.”
But for these founders, the experience of entrepreneurship falls short of just one life experience: actually being a dad. Happy Father’s Day to the entrepreneurs who give so much to their families and companies! We asked Founders/Fathers about their experiences balancing the heavy demands of both, and how the two go hand in hand.
Q: How has fatherhood affected your lives and influenced you as an entrepreneur?
A: “Becoming a father made it very clear that I needed to do something that I feel has intrinsic value, said Ben Lachman, Founder of Potential Labs & father of three girls. “I want to be able to have an honest conversation with my kids and say that I chose what I do and that I do it because it’s meaningful.”
A: “One of the reasons that I do what I do is to give my daughter things that I wasn’t able to have. Not to say my parents didn’t do a great job, because they absolutely did,” said Chris Sauerzopf, Co-Founder of SafeChain & father. “But I want my daughter to have everything she ever wants. I put her above all else. Because without her being an emotionally healthy young girl, none of this really matters. I think her understanding that is very important.”
A: “Entrepreneurship and fatherhood are both full time jobs. When building a company, it can become very easy to lose sight of your other, more important job,” said Nicholas Ripplinger, Founder of Battle Sight Technologies & father of two boys. “With all the travel and long days required to make your venture a success, communication has to be in place to educate your children on the process and the reasons for the late nights. I think keeping my kids informed has created a business foundation for them at such a young age that will set them up for success in whatever field they decide to pursue in the future.”
Q: How do you balance the intense demands of both entrepreneurship and fatherhood, and reconcile with tradeoffs in time?
A: “She’s just turning 5 and I’ve already had the conversation with her that I’m doing this to provide her a better life, so she can grow up to do whatever she wants one day,” said Sauerzopf. “I don’t know how much of that you understand at age 5, but having that conversation throughout the journey is important I think. And hopefully there’s some buy-in because ultimately, there is some sacrifice that comes with being the child of an entrepreneur.”
A: “The most important thing for me is focus and clear delineation of work vs family time. This flies in the face of an era when being available for work and other communication permeates our lives,” said Lachman. “If you are spending time with your kid and end up checking your phone 8 times, replying to a Slack message, and answering a “quick” email, you’ve just made that experience much less meaningful. The number of interruptions during the time I spend with my kids is often more important than simply the amount of time I’m physically present.”
A: “When I am in town I make it to be home in the mornings to help the real hero of our family get the boys ready for school,” said Ripplinger. “I also make it a point to be home as early as I can to tuck the boys in bed. With technology and a son who is learning to read, the use of text messaging has been an amazing tool to communicate and be able to contribute to these life milestones.”
Q: In your opinion, how do the two—Fatherhood and Entrepreneurship—go hand in hand?
A: Growing a business and raising children, although very different, have a lot of similarities. You have these things that mean the world to you and every day you wake up hoping to have a positive impact on each without causing any long-term damage,” joked Ripplinger. “The coolest thing in the world to me is to watch both grow and being able to blend the two together every chance I get.
A: “Entrepreneurship is core to teaching children to be self-sufficient and successful members of society. The ability to assess needs, create products, define market value, and build teams are the skills that make for success in all paths throughout life,” said Lachman. “The more we model and teach entrepreneurship to our children, the more they will flourish.”
A: “They’re the two most rewarding things you can do with your life,” said Sauerzopf. “Entrepreneurship, outside of parenting, is the most fulfilling part of my life. But it doesn’t hold a candle to what it means to be a father.”
This Father’s Day, our kudos to the dads and entrepreneurs who balance two of life’s most fulfilling responsibilities!