What Babysitting Taught Me About Business

What Babysitting Taught Me About Business

My brother has a 3 month old baby and I volunteered to help watch him for a few days.

This is a picture after I got both shoulders puked on by baby Atlas.

He’s a cute kid and I figured I could leave the kid in his crib while I did my work and activities throughout the day.

Shit…I was completely wrong.

I used to think (in my ignorance) that people with kids were too lazy to start their own business.

I used to say to them, “Just make more time.” or “You have to make it a priority!”

I apologize.

Fortunately, we always can learn from our mistakes.

Here are 9 things I learned about business from watching a baby for 4 days:

1. Time limitations increase productivity.

Baby Atlas did not care about my phone calls or my schedule. The 2 times a day he took naps were the only chances I got to work on my todos for the week. With that limited window, I made sure to list out my exact priorities for the day and reduced all distractions during that time. No Skype (sorry I can’t do a call or nope that article isn’t all that important). Basically, children are the ultimate lifehack. (Warning: I don’t encourage having a child just to increase your productivity 🙂

2. Do more of what works.

Most days I was feeding Atlas just 2 ounces of baby formula. Then I realized after I fed him 4 ounces of food that he would fall asleep sooner so I could work. Then for all future feedings I did my best to give him more food so he would fall asleep. The key thing for your business is identify what things are working well and find ways to do more of that.

3. Most times you’re uncomfortable there’s a simple problem to solve it.

Poop, food, burp, move. Those are the 4 key things. The only way a child can communicate a problem is to scream or cry–they can’t spell it out for you. In your business you may be hearing a problem you are ignoring. When looking at the fundamentals that can satisfy the child, it was frankly pretty simple. Diaper clean, check (it’s overrated how hard it is to change them), fed, check, burped check or move the child around. All done. Go back to the basics when you are trying to solve
problems. Keep it simple. .

4. Reduce your judgments of other people.

I never realized how tiring it is to take care of a baby in the morning, go to work, come home, clean, take care of the kid and then try to find time to start your own business. A few months ago, I saw a mother when I was getting my pedicure (only judge me a little bit) who was yelling at her 3 kids. I was thinking to myself, what a terrible mother. Now I know a little bit more about what she was going through. When you are interviewing someone, talking with a customer or dealing with a
co-worker, reduce your natural tendency to pass judgment. You don’t know what it’s like for them.

5. Enable learning triggers.

I didn’t have as much time for the gym so I chose to walk the baby in the morning. It was too hard to do my daily reading so I started to listen to podcasts instead. If you are driving, can you listen to an audio book instead of zoning out. Or if the kid is sleeping in your arms then put on a YouTube video of Jay Abrahams talking about marketing.

6. Ignore non-critical activities and pay someone to handle them.

When the baby was crying for food, I completely ignored washing the dishes. And I ignored the yard, the laundry, and everything else. The highest priority was making baby Atlas happy again. You start recognizing the highest value activities. For your business, figure out which activities are really generating you more money and which ones can you pay someone else to handle.

7. Prioritize yourself.

You know how airlines always tell you to put on your oxygen mask before you put it on your child? That’s true for life. If you don’t take the time to take care of yourself, you won’t be at your best to take care of your child. My brother gets up at 5am so he can make time to meditate and exercise. He knows that gives him more energy and he feels better all day which translates to how he treats his child.

8. Adapt to your limitations.

I typed one-handed when I was feeding the kid. You are going to be constrained in your business, everyone is limited in some way. Figure out how you can work with that situation and still get work done, even if it’s at 50%. Maybe I could have use dictation software or done more phone calls during feeding.

9. Take baby selfies.

Take a lot of these. People love them. That’s all. 🙂 Like a successful business, people only see the good times—not the hardwork that goes into them.

* * *

In the words of the great Ali G to all the parents starting or running their own businesses, “Respect!”

If you’re a parent and you run a business of any size, please leave a comment and share the lessons you’ve learned about business from raising your kids.

Love,
Noah

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115 responses to “What Babysitting Taught Me About Business”

ben hoffman
August 14, 2014 at 5:28 pm

great read thanks. Atlas?

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Tiffany @CircusofHumaniT
August 14, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Yay for audio learning and podcasts. It makes the elliptical machine bearable. And, as a frequent babysitter in the past, it is amazing how busy kids keep you and how closely you have to watch them before they teleport to another room or ride their bike into the pool. I like your thought about prioritizing and filling the small gaps of free time with only critical items.

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Ryan Biddulph
August 14, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Hi Noah,

I love this dude. I found you after Kim Roach mentioned you in a tweet…and I recalled my friend Adam Connell mentioning you….not sure if it was his problogger guest post, or a gem on his blog. In either case, i’m a fan 🙂

I dig the parallel. Being a guy who blogs from paradise for the past 40 months me and my fiancee have taken the child free route. We have a super healthy respect for folks with families because the amount of time and energy it took to watch my niece – when she was a bit older than your nephew – was quite epic.

I’d rather fly for 39 hours – time changes, and layovers included – between Delhi and NYC, anyday, then to have to take care of a newborn. Of course, many parents of little ones say they’d take their life over some of the insane stuff I’ve done during my world travels.

It’s always fun to see life from a different perspective. That’s why I love it. It’s a bit enlightening here and there, and as you said, you’re less likely to judge when you fully understand what someone’s experiencing on a daily basis when you walk a few meters in their shoes.

Doing the globe trotting bit is in some ways like taking care of a baby, both from the uber tight sked with like no time to get things done angle, and from the judgment angle. If folks saw me up at 4 AM, trying to get my post written and published after taking 4 flights from Bangkok to Savusavu, Fiji, they’d see a little less glamour in what I do.

Much respect to you, and to all the wonderful parents out there who are doing an awesome job.

Tweeting this in a bit…thanks so much for sharing Noah.

Have a fun weekend 🙂

Ryan

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Alan Barnes
August 14, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Ha ha I love the way you can make a business post out of almost anything

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Amanda Martin
August 15, 2014 at 10:32 am

Great post Noah. Being a working Mom I can relate to the craziness. However, when they get to my daughter’s age (almost 11) it becomes a completely different ball game. Finding the balance between your schedule and your kid’s schedule is a balancing act all in it’s own. Between homework, school projects, soccer practices, games, and sleep overs with my work, work events, networking events, trying to stay active, and make sure my friends don’t think I’m ignoring them it’s quiet a busy life. I guess my one take away is being busy makes time go by faster. Taking time to do things that make you happy is a HUGE take away and to not sweat/stress about the little things pop up. Roll with the punches. Which is a great way to look at business.

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Nikhil Waghdhare
August 15, 2014 at 11:18 am

Hey Noah,
These are some great lesson you learn from babysitting. These lessons are great and baby looks cute…….. 😉

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Tom Demers
August 15, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Cool post! I was thinking recently it feels like parents running businesses / working higher stress longer hour jobs is kind of an under-served niche content-wise.

As a father of two young kids who owns a small business and had worked a lot of hours before having kids 1 and 7 have been really important (if sort of hard fought) lessons for me. I definitely agree with your larger point on #8 but for me the better way to implement that has been to acknowledge that my “limitation” is that there are blocks of times I have to go to zero in terms of work and just be all-in with my kids – any time I’ve tried to type with one hand (literally or figuratively) it’s been a bit of a disaster from a work and kid perspective (particularly as kids get a little older than your nephew – mine are 4 and 5 – and can see / sense that you’re only half paying attention to them).

I heard Louis CK in interviews and in his stand up talking about how much better of a parent he is since he got divorced because it forced him to be totally present and “on” when he had the kids because there was no other parent to share responsibility with (I think he’s said he actually works like 3 12 hour days and then doesn’t work at all 2 days a week and does stand up when he doesn’t have the kids, etc.) which was kind of a revelation for me when I heard him talk about it, and has really been pretty powerful for me. A good trick I’ve taken to is just taking Email alerts for my primary Email off my phone entirely. As a parent you can’t really totally turn your phone off if you’re not with your kids because you want to be able to get a call if anything happens, but people don’t alert you about real emergencies via Email, and generally whatever the Email is you’re probably not going to do anything meaningful about it until you’re in front of a computer or at least have time to really engage with it (which you might have if you just check it manually) anyway, so all the alert is doing is making you anxious and worse at whatever you’re doing that second. This was a pretty poignant post along the same lines that resonated for me too:

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-wake-up-call-2010-12

In terms of the business application it’s sort of the same idea as what Tim Ferris and other folks talk about in terms of letting small bad things happen to make sure you’re working on / taking care of the big things.

Tom

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Berry Schwartz
August 16, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Hell yes I am and its harder than you think! Try 2 babies on for size 😉

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Jeremy Reeves
August 17, 2014 at 8:22 am

Haha, and you only had him for 2 days 😉 I think you’re absolutely spot-on with the things you figured out in those 2 days. I have 2 kids. One is 3, with autism. The other is 1. It’s a hell of a challenge.

My wife is home everyday to watch them so that helps A LOT, but for the first few years she couldn’t drive (she has Epilepsy) and I was running my business plus doing all the errands.

I learned pretty much every lesson you put in here. Audiobooks/education via audio is CRUCIAL to continual learning. I would say the #1 biggest factor is getting up early. And just being extremely harsh about your time with the time-vampires who try to steal it away. Learning to say “no” is insanely important.

Great post!

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Robert
December 30, 2014 at 1:38 am

You are a freaking hero.

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Maria
August 18, 2014 at 6:06 am

That’s the only way I can get things done with 3 kids under 5 and another on the way. I would listen to marketers (who don’t curse) while the kids are around because OMG they are parrots! Once the kids go to bed I listen to whatever without fear of having to explain my child’s outburst to random strangers. Parrots I tell you. Parrots.

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Justin
August 18, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Between 3:00 and 3:30AM: Get up. 10-minute Tabata circuit or jog.
3:45AM-5:45AM: Work on business.
5:45AM-6:00AM: Get ready for work.
6:00AM-7:00AM: Morning commute.
7:00AM-3:15PM: Day job.
3:15PM-4:15PM: Evening commute.
4:15PM-8:00PM: Take care of 3-year old daughter while wife (7 months pregnant) gets some rest
8:00PM-9:30PM: Work on business, or relax a little
~9:30PM: Bedtime.

Food is mixed in there sporadically.

Weekends are more relaxed, though I try to get up early and get as much work done as I can.

Having a day job, plus side business, plus pre-schooler and another baby on the way…I’ve become an expert at #1 and #8. Learning #2, and trying to find time for #7.

Thanks for this post.

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Katie Mayberry
August 18, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Amazingly you covered everything about being a parent of an infant who is trying to start a business at the same time. And you learned it in four days! This is my life with a 10 month old son and a 4 month old business. I’d just add some additional tools that kept me going in the earliest days: buffer, feedly, flipboard and hootsuite. One-handed social media operation especially useful in the late night hours!

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Jeff B.
August 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm

It’s good to do more of what works; just be careful. If you feed that baby too much, he’s going to get fat.

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Mark E Greene
August 20, 2014 at 5:41 am

Hey Noah, I have twins 😉

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Mike
August 20, 2014 at 5:44 am

Happy to hear you’ve learnt a couple of lessons there. I’ve got 3 boys ranging from 8 months to 8 years. They are wonderful, but sometimes demanding 🙂

I wouldn’t want it any other way!

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Helen
August 20, 2014 at 5:50 am

Oh wow. So amused…and now terrified to have children! Thanks for the reminder about judgement and making me realise I have no excuse to not be super productive right now!

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Lilia
August 20, 2014 at 8:57 am

This is a great takeaway Helen – no excuse to not be super productive for the childless folks!

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soji fagade
August 20, 2014 at 5:51 am

Noah,

I think you rock. This is the classic example of using real life examples in teaching us about every conceivable area of life (sorry I don’t mean to be patronising by stating the obvious – but it’s got to be said and acknowledged) You do a great job. Keep up the good work. Tacos? Not converted yet. but we’ll see!

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Adriana Zoder
August 20, 2014 at 5:52 am

Thank you for sharing. It was gratifying to see that another non-parent acknowledges that kids are the ultimate life hack. I have been swimming through molasses since I became a mom when it comes to my career. But I could not imagine my life without them. And I think they make me a better person because my priorities have changed, like “forget world domination, I have to figure out a way to make this baby sleep…” 🙂

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Jeremy
August 20, 2014 at 6:00 am

Haha Noah, was fun reading, just know 1 is EASY. I got 2 + wife (they request their share of attention too) and still started a business on side of my day job, waking up daily at 4:30 am to phone Australian business owners. Respect dude 🙂

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Andre Oentoro
August 20, 2014 at 6:06 am

I’m a parent, and I own a business. But, I think I won’t encourage anyone to give their kids (nor their brother’s) twice of the usual so he can go to sleep sooner. Hahaha, Noah, that leads to obesity!
My 2-years old like to do selfies too!

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Shamanth
August 20, 2014 at 6:09 am

This note just rang true, and finally someone putting it on paper! Being a mom of two and starting a business, is a challenge a welcome challenge on my part but it’s nice that someone else understands why the dishes and laundry aren’t done yet!! Haha…

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Jason Dea
August 20, 2014 at 6:30 am

I just wanted to say thanks! As a father of a toddler I find that when I go to certain startup meetups and other such networking events, some people there just don’t understand why I’m so tired, or why I don’t have 15,000% focus on my startup alone. Family and kids especially change your perspective on things. On one hand they give you extra motivation to succeed (and provide for them) on the other they give you a really better understanding of priorities and what isn’t really that important.

I think that’s really the biggest lesson in your blog post. Kids force you to prioritize in a different way.

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Lukas Rohr
August 20, 2014 at 6:37 am

You had me at “I used to think (in my ignorance) that people with kids were too lazy to start their own business.”

As others have mentioned… this is an under served niche topic.

I’m a parent and I’m doing it. I have a 1 and a 4 year old. My wife and I both work part time. I’m running my own business and the kids def. eat into my time and schedule. Things simply move slower when you have a family.

Depending on your kids, even scheduling time for your self, regardless of how early you get up is a challenge. I’m an early morning person and usually get by very well on 6h of sleep, but if you have bad sleepers and you haven’t had a good night of sleep (i.e. at least 4h in a row) then getting up at 5am on that one day when you actually could sleep a bit more isn’t in the cards. It’s not just a issue of laziness, but also a health one. I got sick a lot more when i wasn’t getting a good nights rest.

My experience has also been that trying to “multitask” with the kids ends up being a loss for everyone. I can’t concentrate and don’t do good work and the kids lose because they do in fact realize that you are “there” but not really “with them”. They know this even at 1yr old. So I would recommend not doing #8.

I do listen to pod casts while I go jogging. My activity that falls under #7.

Ignoring non-critical activities or paying someone else to handle them is good advice. House cleaning = money we are happy to spend.

Thanks for the post. It was refreshing!

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kim
August 20, 2014 at 6:38 am

Well said, and in fact, so we’ll done that I will prioritize your marketing class that has not received proper attention this summer! I have 3 kids still at home. Balancing their homeschooling, extracurriculars, and keeping the home running while working part time from home has made me a very organized person….and a bit neurotic about schedules!

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Zara.
August 20, 2014 at 6:40 am

You’ll never make Vogue covered in vomit, Noah, but babies look cute even when they are offenders. The only thing I can contribute is that when I looked after my baby sister who was 19 years younger than me, she was the dominant one of the partnership. She had to be. Her existence depended upon manipulating me to supply what she needed if I was being too dim to supply it. Quite literally, supply and demand or rather demand and supply. Like you, I would never have predicted such a situation before experiencing it. I grew up as fast as she did.

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Dainis
August 20, 2014 at 6:45 am

Atlas!!! I like that name!!! Good insight for those of us that dont have kids. I like your comments about not judging. I think it applies actually all the time, but especially in this situation and especially if you have never experienced babies before (like me)! Thanks Noah. Great post

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Blake
August 20, 2014 at 6:50 am

This is so true. I thought staying at home watching my son would be a great time to get stuff done. As you found out that’s not how it works. You’re lucky to feed yourself much less get meaningful work done.

I found that Parkinson’s law is very accurate and I now get just as much, if not more, done after his bed time than I did when I had the whole night to myself. Plus, coming home from work to a 10 month old that’s ready to play is way more fun 🙂

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Clint Salter
August 20, 2014 at 6:59 am

Killer post Noah. Went to visit my cousin and her 1.5year old last month. I was exhausted after two hours. Up and down, playing, singing, dancing, building blocks, sharing food… Huge respect for stay at home parents. And I thought running a business was challenging.

P.S. Atlas is a rocking name!

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Marcy
August 20, 2014 at 7:01 am

What a RIOT! I love your posts, but I think this one is my favorite!!

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Judit Herman
August 20, 2014 at 7:09 am

Yeah, my baby is 5 months old, and I am working on a new website on breaking writer’s block. Difficult. Normally it takes me a week to do what is now over a month. The biggest problem is making the videos for Youtube for which I need to look at least moderately rested, AND find the time between feedings, AND have a babysitter for me AND be ready in makeup and nice clothes. Phew… Of course a mother can find some time for business but not easily and not without sacrifice: “time” means “whatever little free time you would have”, which one would normally spend on herself, bathroom, resting, exercise, etc. So big respect to all mothers doing that – and fathers who fully support them. Anyway, breastfeeding time…

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Nathan
August 20, 2014 at 7:12 am

Excellent read. Whenever my smile grows the further down an article I get, I know the writer has hit on something.

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Ahmad Hamad
August 20, 2014 at 7:23 am

I liked the article.

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Steve Hodgdon (@SteveHodgdon)
August 20, 2014 at 7:33 am

Invest in the kid now. Like training employees it has exponential payback. Model behavior you wish you did all the time. Give then full attention, not half while you work your phone. My kids are 25 and 21.

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Thomas
August 20, 2014 at 7:35 am

Hi Noah,
I’m a father of two (6y&5m), became a freelancer 5 years ago and now build an app (www.guessbinary.com). I learned that it’s important to clearly set expectations and communicate very explicitly. That’s important with your partner, the child as well as in business. Of course you also learn to stay up really early 😉

Best regards – Thomas

Ps.: “Atlas” reminds me of “Atlas shrugged” (Ayn Rand)…

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Rimantas Petrauskas
August 20, 2014 at 7:47 am

Completely agree on #4. Also, no judgement about pedicure, see number #6 😉

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Joao Reis
August 20, 2014 at 7:53 am

Hooorray ! Welcome to my world ! Now my kids are all grown, but was nice to hear what you experienced and that you understand us parents a little bit more. Cheers !

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Chris Bird
August 20, 2014 at 7:54 am

Always love your unconventional approach Noah…but this may have been the first post that I could understand from a very personal perspective. As a single dad with 2 amazeball kids, it’s tough. But once I learned that everyone has it ‘tough’ in their own way – you get on to making s**t happen. When the kids get older – mine are 7 and 10 – it’s more awesome but certainly more challenging. But, again, you deal with it.
There really is something to the old saying “before you judge a man, walk in their shoes”. Great advice for everyone. You can never have too much empathy.

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Larry Mai
August 20, 2014 at 8:00 am

It’s the greatest and worst feelings in the world. Now imagine there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel where you can “return” Atlas. I always say, I would not wish this on my worst enemy. hahaha.

But you have to do what you love. I start on my side projects after my 3 kids go down.
About a month ago, I was coding from 10pm to 2am just to get out my MVP.

Thanks for sharing!

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Dave
August 20, 2014 at 8:01 am

Ok, no biz tips. But a baby tip re: burping. If you’re going to have a baby, make sure you steal everything not nailed down from the hospital room. In fact, bring an extra duffel bag to your wife’s room. Sleep there overnight and fill that duffel bag.

One of your targets needs to be the cloths you see the nurses throw over their shoulders to burp the kid before or if you can handle it yourself. They are better suited to the purpose than anything you can find in the baby section of your local dept. store. The stuff in the store only covers a small portion of the front of your shirt. You’ll soon find the baby is capable of getting stuff over your shoulder onto your back. The hospital cloths are large enough cover the upper back too. Think about it; they have to deal with way more babies than you’ll ever have. They know what they are doing.

When you stay overnight make sure you ask the nurses for something and then accompany them to the storage room. Note its location. It probably won’t be locked. At night go back there and steal, steal and steal. Burping cloths, diapers, blankets, formula, you name it. If you can, fill up that duffel bag, go home and empty it and then come back for more.

The real goal here is to make the first month and especially the first 2 weeks as easy as you can. You have no idea how tired you are going to be. Extraneous movements must be eliminated. A trip to the store for *anything* becomes a major chore.

You think that baby shower got you prepped? Think again kemo sabe.

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Dave
August 20, 2014 at 8:18 am

Thanks for finally recognizing OUR reality from all the parents who are up early, late and spend their lunch bolting across town to pick up someone from swimming lessons, Tae Kwon Do, or watching a little league game. We do our networking as we help coach flag football after supper. ( Hint for your future. Most 9 year olds do not make good business partners!) Enjoy your current freedom… but I wouldn’t trade places with you, and neither would your brother! Dave

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Sam Hudgins
August 20, 2014 at 8:23 am

Humility. How often do you see a child that is stuck up and entitled and how often do you just want to reach out and wring their neck? Then you see the quiet and more humble child that you feel you would do anything for if they just asked. How is that any different than how we are as adults or marketers asking for small favors or information or whatever we do. Take pride in your work but treat people so very humbly and I believe you will open doors that before might have been locked to you.

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Denni Griffith
August 20, 2014 at 8:32 am

Noah – Never forget you can always “make more money”, but you can never “get those moments back”. #familylifeworkbalance

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Matt
August 20, 2014 at 8:43 am

Hey Noah, I’ve been freelancing on the side for 16 years, but only in the past year have I decided to take the business more seriously and shoot for the goal of self-employment. Having a 2-year old and a family to care for made setting new time constraints a must and I think it’s slowly paying off. It’s a mystery how it works, but it works! 🙂

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Rob
August 20, 2014 at 8:47 am

This. It’s so refreshing to read this. My wife and I have 3 kids, and I have a tough (but really fun) job with long hours. I also have a ton of ideas for side hustles, but very limited time to work on them. My kids come first – always.

I ruthlessly cut out activities that don’t push my hustles forward and just work on the ones I think can be most successful. Some weeks I can get in perhaps 5 hours of work, but others maybe it’s just one hour in a week. Whatever it is, I just try to push the ball up the field one yard at a time.

For parents there’s an added stress as well – the mind games: am I spending enough time with the kids? Am I doing the right things to put them on a path to success? Am I pushing them too hard? It’s not an easy balancing act.

Thanks for recognizing this post!

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Ryan
August 20, 2014 at 9:02 am

My wife and I both work from home running web based businesses. We have 5 kids with number 6 due in December.

We often wonder what people do with all of their ‘me’ time when they don’t have children taking up most of their time. If we can start and build successful businesses – anyone can. Don’t use lack of time or being too busy as an excuse. Or use running a business as an excuse to not have kids. In the end relationships and people matter more and will pay you back more than a business ever will.

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Cheri Flake
August 20, 2014 at 9:03 am

Love it!
I could write a book here…I’ll spare you. I learn cool new tricks every day about how to run a business AND take good care of the little nuggets.
Much love and light to you, C

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Scott Yewell
August 20, 2014 at 9:07 am

Hi Noah,

Great article, can totally relate to being double-puked on unfortunately. Speaking of the diaper changing, you really haven’t lived until you’ve experienced a good projectile session… Anyway, I wanted to invite you to check out the podcast Bootstrapped with Kids, where Brecht Palombo and I talk about bootstrapping our businesses while we raise our families. Thanks for the great articles and teachings!

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Manu
August 20, 2014 at 9:13 am

Great read. I wrote something similar when my first child was born. You can read it here http://epiphanies.smanumenon.com/page/7
Thanks for sharing your insights.

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Lilia
August 20, 2014 at 9:19 am

Takeaway for everyone without children – start and grow your businesses before you have kids! You will be happy you did later.

I don’t have a child yet, but spending time around nieces and nephews taught me how hands-on and involved childcare is. It’s also not just about children’s needs – many parents WANT to spend as much time as possible with their kids and will choose it over work, making extra money, and various other activities they enjoyed in the past. So it becomes important to just do “all the things” before to hopefully minimize the guilt and feeling of sacrifice that comes with prioritizing between family time and work/business when the time comes.

Disclaimer: I don’t have a child to care for yet, but I have grown my business to a point where it doesn’t require constant attention and will do fine if I only have 5-10 hours a week for it – it took years of nights and weekends on top of day job and then 60-hour weeks to get here. I feel somewhat prepared to be a stay-at-home parent, at least from a financial and reaching personal goals point of view.

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Sumitha
August 20, 2014 at 9:27 am

Wow, I never thought I’d see Noah Kagan write about a baby, and that too with so much humility and (*gasp*) with an apology to parents! You should babysit Atlas more often… this slightly different style of writing suits you 🙂

Wonderful lessons… love the one about being more productive. That’s been my biggest lesson to learn!

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Meredith M Howard
August 20, 2014 at 9:48 am

Your post made me laugh. It looks easy until you actually have kids. Here is what I have learned:

1) Teach your kids to be responsible for themselves – doing their homework, studying for tests, making their snack, doing chores. It takes some time up front but then saves you loads of time later on. (Obviously, this doesn’t apply to newborn babies – but as soon as they are able to sit up and hold stuff, you can start teaching.)
2) Kids give you the right perspective on life. If you are too stressed out about something you are working on, they will remind you that it is not a “life or death” issue. And their smiling faces just make me happy.
3) Having a 2:30 deadline (carpool) makes me work faster during the day.

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Vera Milan Gervais
August 20, 2014 at 10:03 am

My husband and I started a business together 22 years ago. When we started we had a 2 year old. A week later I discovered I was pregnant again. It’s been quite a ride…we started a project management company in the basement and now have a staff of 50 serving the pharmaceutical industry from an amazing heritage building we renovated. Not only are we still married, we have shared the same physical office space for 22 years.

There were endless learnings on our journey, but having seen our two kids grow into successful adults at 22 and 25, I think we did a lot of things right. Here are some of the things that building a business, family and marriage at the same time have taught us:

1. Focus on now
If you are with your kids or your spouse, focus on them, not the email you forgot to send. If you are with your clients, focus on them, not the laundry you didn’t do. Focus creates productivity. Productivity gives you time for the rest you need to/want to do.

2. Forget perfection
Our house hasn’t be spotless for 2 decades. It doesn’t matter. Friends understand that friendship is more important than a show home. I’ve used time that I could have been cleaning the same kitchen counter and floor over and over to spend in my garden, which responds to my attention as a beautiful sanctuary and sanity. Even the kids learned that if they wanted to ask for something they should wait until I’d been in the garden for half an hour because then I was more relaxed and open. For my husband, it’s cooking up a storm and not worrying about the dishes. The meals he makes more than compensate for the dirty sink!

3. Involve the kids
Ours have done everything from licking stamps and shredding paper when they were younger to fixing computers and doing FB posts when they were in university. They learned a lot. So did we. Our two energizer bunnies are both amazing problem solvers and every boss they’ve ever had wishes they had a dozen more workers like them!

4. Erase guilt
If you are feeling guilty, ask yourself why. You started your business to do the things you love, so if you love being able to go on a school field trip on a Tuesday morning with your 7 years old, do it. The work will still be there at the end of the week but your chance to take that trip with 7 year old will never happen again. And you’ll be amazed at how fulfilling the trip will be for your sanity and inspiration!

5. Let go
Don’t talk about business every minute of every day. Your family and friends need a break and believe it or not, so do you. It’s called balance. Remember, you started a business so you could be your own boss, so don’t be a tyrant to yourself 🙂

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Brian
August 20, 2014 at 10:12 am

I have always heard that if you want something done give it a busy person; they understand that they are in a time crunch where as the person with lots of time on their hands will naturally procrastinate.

Here are some other lessons for those with multiple kids.
1. Delegation. Our 4 year old is often asked to go get the diaper for our 8 month old, or to gaurd duty to keep her out of the kitchen or to be the entertainer for a few minutes. It gives him a chance to have a sense of accomplishment.

2. Give others a chance to be part of the success. The 4 year old helper does a great service but also learns responsibility. In his feeling of self pride he is enthusiastic to help and wants to take on more challenges.

3. Never let others share in your defeat. If the 4 year old helper is not successful and feels he is the cause of the failure he will be less likely to be as helpful, take on new challenges. give clues as to how he might be more successful in the future and let him figure it out.

4. Understand limitations. The 4 year old can be a great helper but for only a certain amount. Anticipate that attention span – employees are the same, they work for you for the money, you work for you for the dream. They are not as emotionally invested in your success. Their own lives will always invade the days thoughts, this is normal; find ways to not let it be too much of a distraction; or perhaps a way to incorporate it in the days events…this way you can channel its energy and possibly find a way to use it as a motivator for success on the job.

5. Never for get why you are doing this. My wife and I have an incredibly busy life. I work over seas (month on month off) and communication is difficult at best; on top of that I serve in the military – my reserve life is busier than most….On top of that we are starting a business while raising a 4 year old and 8 month old! I think we have started scheduling time for sleep. Every day I look at the I am motivated to keep going, if successful I will be able to spend more time with them in the end.

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David Smith
August 20, 2014 at 10:20 am

Nice post, Noah. I’ve been raising infant twin girls (they’re 8.5 months now) while raising a startup apparel company. In that time I’ve been thinking about the parallels of child-rearing and entrepreneurship. To your list I would add:
(1) Patience + persistence. Whether it’s getting that baby to burp, finish her bottle, or go the F to sleep, you have to just keep after it until you’re successful. The same is true with testing your concept, building your product, or testing marketing techniques. Just stay after it.
(2) Be observant and continuously improve. Our girls were waking up sweaty and cranky. So we invested in a ceiling fan and that problem went away. Especially in the beginning, we tracked their formula intake and sleeping schedule, and tried different things as they grew. With the startup, we monitor our analytics and customer feedback to make our site and customer experience better.
(3) If it’s time to pivot, do so whole-heartedly. As soon as they showed signs of being able to sleep through the night, we committed to sleep-training them. Even though it’s doubly tough with twins who cry and wake each other up, it yielded dividends after a week or so and my wife and I had our evenings back to ourselves. (Thank God.)
(4) Mobile devices are your best friend. I have done a lot of reading with a kid in my lap or playing on the floor.

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Andrea Goulet Ford
August 20, 2014 at 10:25 am

LOVE this post! And thanks for the props. I own two businesses and have a toddler, so many of the things you mentioned really hit home. I remember just before we brought baby home we had a conversation of “Do we really need a sitter? He’s just going to sleep all day, right? How hard can it be?” BWAH HA HA HA HA, past, childless Self. You had no idea how hard it would actually be.

The biggest key to my sanity and productivity has been to outsource more. Before kids, I was too cheap to outsource. I would always find excuses for doing it myself. Now, I have a virtual assistant, someone who cleans once a week, someone who mows the yard, and we eat out most nights instead of me cooking. Without these support systems in place, I would have panic attacks from not being able to handle it all. Plus, to your point, it’s freed me up to spend more time on revenue generating activities so I can afford all these awesome services and actually enjoy my life.

I’d add that the only thing more challenging than being a working mom is being a mom who stays at home full time. I tried that for about six weeks and it was by far the hardest job I’ve ever had.

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Carter
August 20, 2014 at 10:35 am

I learned a significant lesson from my 11yr old. She’s quite handy on the iPad with photo rendering and manipulation with various apps. She started up an Instagram account and started posting photos of her favourite band up at a high frequency, always putting up something new. This only started a few months ago and she now has over 1000 followers on Instagram. Persistance and passion for what she was doing drove that figure up. People pay significant sums of money to get an audience on social media and an 11yr old did it for free with just a bit of passion for what she was doing and knowing what her audience wanted.

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Eric Burleson
August 20, 2014 at 10:38 am

I’ve got an almost six month old daughter. I get up super early, do my meditation, do my physical therapy exercises (I just had shoulder surgery…that alone has been a bear), and then take my daughter from my wife and play with her while my wife gets ready. I work during the weeks away from home, late, but spend a huge amount of time with my wife during the weekend.
1) Time with the family, even if limited, is inviolate. I very, very rarely compromise on this. They will be there when everything else crashes and burns, and to Maggie (my daughter), time playing Peek-a-boo is irreplaceable. There is a linear function for time spent with family and return on that time. Coming from the Army, I know what is and what is not a real emergency. Hint: if it doesn’t involve true threat to life, limb, eyesight, or solvency, it isn’t really an emergency.
2) Automation and finding people that can take care of menial tasks is priceless. Why, hello, Fiverr and Odesk. Where have you been all my life?
3) The three best attitudes to take in a new environment and with new people are Curiosity, Compassion, and Gratitude. For most of us, nobody is trying to kill us, although for many of us, it feels that way. Have Gratitude for your safety, what you learn from mistakes and the help kind people give you and compassion for people struggling. It really helps. Curiosity will help you learn where to place the other things and keeps things interesting.

This article felt very vindicating. Thanks!

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Ryan Holck
August 20, 2014 at 10:50 am

I left my job this year to go out on my own as a designer and consultant and currently work from home. My wife home schools our 5 yr in Kindergarten and 11 year old in grade 6.
I’ve been learning that interruptions will happen and can’t been seen as a bother but rather as their desire to connect with dad for a momen during the day. When I keep focused on my work they continue to show up looking for affirmation but hen I genuinely connect with them for a few minutes their emotional tank is filled and they go back to their school work or play time.
I left my job to free up more time to be with them and now I’m learning each day what it takes to do that.
Patience
Love
Understanding
One handed typing
A big magnetic board for all the Kindergarten projects
Willingness to ignore my self imposed timelines to gain impactful moments in their lives

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Lain Ehmann
August 20, 2014 at 11:27 am

I have three kids from 9-16, and I started working for myself when my oldest was born. I love your list. The thing I’d add is juggling kids and work has taught me to have a sense of humor. Kid scribbles on my “important” papers, trying to do a phone interview with a kid suddenly yelling, “I have to go poo-poo!” in the background… laugh or die. I still maintain a professional demeanor as people are paying me for professional results, but sometimes life gets real and you have to just embrace it.

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Chandra
August 20, 2014 at 11:33 am

My husband and I are raising four children while running a major company together. We have it all worked out now, but the early years were crazy hard. The sleep deprivation associated with having a newborn around makes everything about 50x more difficult. You’re right though, you learn to prioritize FAST, because your windows of opportunity are narrow and you’re unbelievably groggy. 😉

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Terri Sherrill
August 20, 2014 at 11:39 am

Sally Goddard Blythe, International Director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology writes, “One of the greatest threats to modern society comes not from diseases of then past (which medicine and hygiene have largely controlled), but illnesses, learning disorders and social problems, which are a direct consequence of modern living conditions, lifestyle, and ignorance of children’s biological needs…”

In her article, “Assessing Neuromotor Readiness for Learning,” Blythe laments that too many infants, toddlers and young children find themselves in “containers” (swings, infant seats, high chairs, etc.) that limit their ability to move and explore; they find themselves exposed to increasing hours of sedentary screen time; and they fluctuate between being bombarded by noise and overstimulation …to a lack of appropriate sensory experiences. Her research suggests these cultural practices fail to support the maturation of the vestibular, limbic, or nervous systems and leave primitive reflexes uninhibited past optimal developmental timetables.

A child’s brain will have grown to 90% of adult weight by age 3, and have attained about 95% of peak volume by age 6 –forming the cognitive architecture and perceptive abilities with long lasting influence on the individual’s mental and physical health.

Not only should we not give a child more milk so he would sleep longer (allowing us to get more done) but ignoring the fact that the child has their own set of biologically determined needs …is like ignoring gravity (another law of nature). It does not end well.

All that said, having children near by (as you run a business) is replete with positive lessons for both the child and adult. And, a 4 day babysitting gig is unlikely to render any lasting consequences. But as an advocate for children and families, as well as entrepreneurs, I know that we hope for successful outcomes in our families and our businesses.

Historically, the care of children had been considered “women’s work,” and therefore devalued and unworthy of much study or attention. Now we know that this work is foundational to the future of humanity, as our population grows, and technology and globalization become increasingly complex.

Noah, if you could learn as much you did in watching a baby for just 4 days, imagine what you might learn given even more time : )

http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/multimedia/interactive_features/biodevelopmental-framework/

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Keith James
August 20, 2014 at 11:46 am

Reminds me of the first time I watched both my grandchildren at the same time. Taking care of a 9 month old and running after a three year old, no easy task. It still was a lot of fun.

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Ken Mahar
August 20, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Thanks for the RESPECT!
Like you, I knew most everything about child rearing before I had them. Now I’m on my apology circuit like a 12-step program.

Two things that I’ve learned: 1) If you actually get some time to watch TV at night ask yourself this question. If I woke you up in the morning and tried to get you to watch TV with me instead of sleeping – how would you answer? If no, then bed is a better choice.

2). OUTSOURCING is huge. It surprising to me how affordable it is to hire an excellent nanny. Now our house is getting cleaned, laundry is getting done, and our kids are getting a bi-lingual upbringing. Do the math – if your time (and sanity, and relationship) is worth more than you’d have to pay – get help!

3). Noah – You don’t know shit (yet) about changing diapers. Go visit when your nephew is 2 years old and you essentially have to don a hazmat suit and turn the garden hose on him to get him sanitized.

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Vagabond Elmer
August 20, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Hillarious but serious at the same time. I am a grandpa and we are babysitting our 3 year old grandson few days a week, and oh my gosh what a bundle of energy, so working on my stuff takes a new meaning. You are so right on point that It’s a must read for everyone. Awesome lessons about lifes and productivity.

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Tara Phelps
August 20, 2014 at 12:49 pm

The best line in that whole blog post… “Warning: I don’t encourage having a child just to increase your productivity”….. But kids will teach you a thing or two about priorities and time….

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Richard W
August 20, 2014 at 1:08 pm

I have a seven month old, and he was ‘launched’ at the same time my site was birthed onto the world. If that wasn’t enough, I’m also the CEO of a staffing company with presence in two states.

Much as I love my commercial challenges, and my gorgeous startup, nothing comes close to the joy of holding him, feeding him, playing with him, and yes, changing his heavy diapers.

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Joseph Michael
August 20, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Dude this was awesome and so true! As a dad to a newborn I can totally relate to this. I wrote a post that was sort of meant to be funny but ended up becoming quite helpful called “5 Steps To Writing A Blog Post While Feeding a Newborn Baby” – you might like it (for next time you watch baby Atlas) It was born out of the same frustrations that you mentioned.

http://www.josephmichael.net/blog/2014/6/26/how-to-write-a-blog-post-while-feeding-your-newborn-baby

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Kevin
August 20, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Great post and glad you got kid exposure. Next step… take Atlas on a plane trip.

You’ll have a new appreciation for people flying with babies 😉

My kids were the reason I started my own business. After coming home again and again miserable I looked at them and asked myself “If my kids were doing this to themselves what would I tell them?”

I realized that my actions were telling them “working and doing something you don’t believe in is okay.”

I reevaluated my priorities at left my practice.

I’ll thank both of them someday for this 🙂

(Luckily I also have an awesome spouse who agreed with my realization)

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Julia
August 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Rutheless prioritization 🙂 I only take the meetings that matter, I learned to be super efficient with the time I get thanks to my awesome nanny and I try to automate as many time consuming tasks I can (I love Instacart, for example- no more dragging a kid through grocery aisles!)

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Uri
August 20, 2014 at 2:03 pm

You forgot to mention the stream of illnesses kids give you, sick days, and mortgage-equivalent daycare costs. You have chores after they go to sleep too, especially if you want to feed them real food. Chronic illnesses and ailments aren’t uncommon by parenting age either and that further complicates matters. It can be done but you and your spouse need to be on top of your game. Otherwise, it’s not practical until the kids are all in public school.

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Maaike
August 20, 2014 at 2:05 pm

You are so funny Noah! Great post again and spot on! I have 3 kids and am working on starting my business so I can relate. My children are my main motivation. I want to set an example, to be able to say: You can do almost anything in life if you put your mind to it. And have some extra money so we can all travel the world together!

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Matt LaPrairie
August 20, 2014 at 2:39 pm

My #1 lesson from being a business owner and a new dad (9 month old) – have an amazing partner and be an amazing partner. It’s much easier to manage businesses and babies as a two person team.

After my daughter was born, I took two months off and my partner ran the business with little help from me. Now my daughter is in daycare 3 days per week – I stay home with her one day and my wife stays home with her another day. I’m lucky to have an amazing business partner who’s understanding and supportive. Many dads don’t have this opportunity.

Of course, I’ll return the favor when he has kids.

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Kimanzi Constable
August 20, 2014 at 2:58 pm

I can relate! We don’t have young children anymore but these days I still have to be very focused with my time.

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Dumisani
August 20, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Man, tell me about raising kids. It’s all consuming and overwhelming. I always say someone who has a child but stays with the significant other and someone who raises a child are two different experiences…try raising one! Otherwise they truly are adorable, but a lot of hard work. Anyway thanks for your observation and we can learn from your thoughts.

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Eleanor
August 20, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Can totally relate. Great post Noah. You learn to better manage your time when you have a child. I thought I was busy before I had my son, but I realize now that I wasted a lot of time before I had a child. Having less time definitely makes me prioritize and use my limited time better. I get my side business work done between 9-11pm. Also podcasts and audio blogs are so invaluable to me.

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DontMakeMeUseMyMomVoice
August 20, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Oh, Dear, Sweet, Noah. I applaud you for taking on the task of caring for someone else’s child. You are a SAINT!

And here is my feedback, to consider before you have children of your own.

When you “zone out” in the car listening to whatever instead of some (not high priority) it is because you are mentally needing to recharge. I’m glad you understand that your brother does early morning routine so that he can be better for himself AND for others. It’s critical. Glad you noticed.

Typing one-handed while feeding is a double-edged sword. If you were this child’s parent I would tell you to immediately STOP this behavior and pay attention to the cherub in your arms. By double-tasking, you are missing out on precious bonding opportunities that (a) you will never get back because time flies and (b) nurture a child in a way that nothing else can. Were you read to as a child? It is time that a child gets to be held, engaged with one-on-one and spoken to in a voice that is often soothing and can be had precious few other places. Please don’t multi-task when you’re in a place (feeding, reading, bathtime, etc) that direct eye contact, intimate conversations and genuine bonding can happen. If you don’t pay attention, neither will the kid later on. Remember, nonverbal communication speaks loudest.

xoxo

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Anuj Adhiya
August 20, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Top 3 I’ve learned about business from currently raising (2) kids:

a) Be resilient.
Every setback, failure, thing not going according to plan is just another bump in the road. Get your little cry/self pity bout out of the way and then move on to what’s next.

b) Be present.
If you’re working, then work. If you’re with family, then do that. Only by focusing on what you’re doing can you be/do the best in that moment.

c) Be genuinely curious AKA “There is no spoon”
Kids are all about exploring this new world without any preconceived notions. It’s amazing what you can discover when you’re not looking to exploit/optimize every situation and doing something just because.

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Tim
August 20, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Hmm feeding someone else’s baby double what they’re supposed to eat.
What could go wrong!

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Nicole
August 20, 2014 at 4:47 pm

OMG Noah, first you are one of my favorites and 2nd I love you even more as I have 2 small kids and trying to do a podcast and start another business, I do wish others would get it, the fact that I want to create and i can have a nice marriage of 17 yrs and 2 small children. Yes I am only 38 started marriage life and travel young, but also that it is a time hack because you are forced to do what you need either superass early or naptime or after they go to bed, I really appreciate all you do, I love your business, your interviews on podcasts and your writings. Thank you for always bringing value to me and if I can ever do the same for you please let me know
Nic

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Steven Kempton
August 20, 2014 at 4:59 pm

I have 3 kids and have run my own business for 12 years. Kids are worth it, but it’s the ultimate, “you can’t understand a man till you’ve walked a mile in his shoes” example. Babysitting is a great primer for why it’s so hard. Nice to see you enjoy the experience and come out with a good understanding.

I agree with a lot of your points,the thing my kids have taught me the most about business is that there is a reason I’m in business for myself, and they’re it. Without them I could have had a different career, but not a better life.

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Maria Webster
August 20, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Here’s what being a parent while running my own business – on top of a day job – taught me:

WORK/LIFE BALANCE IS BS.

There is no “balance”. My family is part of my life. *So is my work*. When our kid was about two, we noticed that some days she ate a ton, some days she ate very little, but that if we normalized what she ate over a couple of days, we realized that she’d eaten about the same amount on average. So we stopped worrying about setting her portions and let her handle her own portion control.

I’ve discovered that the same is true of “work/life balance”. Some days I work a lot. Some days I have more family time. As long as this normalizes over a few days and I’m getting the right work stuff done, I call it a win. My kid understands that sometimes, I need to work and it doesn’t mean I’m ignoring her or that she’s not important since, at other times, *she’s* the priority and I set work aside.

So nevermind the precise-schedule-every-day-that-allows-for-perfect-time-increments-for-everything. That’s BS and is no way to have a happy family and a thriving business.

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Kathryn
August 20, 2014 at 6:05 pm

I loved this! Kids really do have a way of humbling you and also teaching you to make the most of any situation. I own a Pilates studio and a couple of my employees have grade school children. Many times we have had all four children playing quietly and happily together in the studio office. At first it was a little disruptive but over time the kids grew in their patience and all the grown ups enjoy saying hello to these really fun loving adorable kids. Not one bad word to me ever about having them in the studio. I give credit to their Moms for making it to work. I also know lots of young women who wear their infants to their Pilates studios in those cute slings. As a Mom of teen aged boys, they helped us move locations last year. Kids make it real.

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Hoo Kang
August 20, 2014 at 7:13 pm

I’ve felt pretty guilty about not being able to hustle as much.

But I have two little ones and they are awesome.

Hard to hustle with that and a full time job.

Thanks for sharing Noah!

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Adam Konopka
August 20, 2014 at 8:03 pm

>> Deployed to Afghanistan
>> 3 Kids at Home, one was several months old
>> #4 on the Way
>> Family had to move 1,500 miles across the States to relocate… without me
>> No communication with partners beside email
>> My Superwoman of a Wife and I decided it was THE PERFECT time to tear down one business and START another

By the way, baby 4, Gracen (boy), was born 54 hours after I landed back on freedom soil

“I’m too busy to start a business” — Dude, busy people are the only people who win… Let’s Go!

And those last two boys are now almost 4 and almost 3 and I have to constantly guard the keyboard from syrup and sippy cup bombs… Life Is Good.

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Katerina Gasset
August 20, 2014 at 8:08 pm

We learn great life and business lessons through our children. I have 9 children and gave birth to 6 of them. I had all 6 of my birth children before I was 30. I was blessed with a surprise baby at the age of 44. There are 14 years difference between my youngest daughter and my youngest son who is turning 12 next week. And I homeschooled all my children all the way through to college. I also have been self employed since I was 16. The main decision I made when I was only 18 finding out I was pregnant for the first time is that I was going to be home with my kids. I was going to work around their schedules. We have done very well. I coach one day a week and make over 6 figures a year working that one day a week. Everyone knows not to bother me on that one day. We own a real estate brokerage also and run it from our home office. My husband does all the running around work so I can homeschool and I do all the marketing and blogging, seo, etc at night when everyone is sleeping. You learn what are priorities and everything fits around those. I choose lifestyle over anything else. People ask me all the time how do I get it all done. I don’t do it all myself. I delegate. We have a landscaper, I have a house helper, I have a full team of virtual assistants who help me in my businesses. I love your points in your post! So true! I learned to do a lot of things with one hand!

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Christine Chang
August 20, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Cute post.

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John Verbrugge
August 20, 2014 at 8:48 pm

I have a 4 month old, and I have learned these exact 9 lessons, in the exact same order, even. I’ve made it work. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s working! And my little baby boy is rockin’ it.

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Jia-Sin Chen
August 20, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Great sharing, Noah! I have been looking for stories from someone who has a day job and takes care of babies at night. Yes, it’s tiring just like you say in the 4th lesson. Your 9 lessons are very helpful to me. I encourage all guys who have the same situation to read this post. It might be helpful to you as well.

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Reuben Swartz
August 20, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Great post and great comments. As an entrepreneur and father of 7 year old twins, it’s been an interesting journey. I wouldn’t change a thing (well, except for some of the stupid business mistakes I’ve made) but it is demanding. No matter what anyone says, there are 24 hours in a day, and a limited number of days in your life. Make sure you do what’s really important, not just at work (having kids and getting rid of our nanny really helped with the prioritization) but in life.

(I actually wrote a post about this in response to Anne Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic about “having it all”: http://www.mimiran.com/small-business-owner/can-you-have-it-all-of-course-not/)

On a lighter note, one of my funnier moments was when the twins were about 3 months old, getting a conference call with about 20 people on three continents at 6AM, thinking “I’ll be up feeding them anyway, and I can just be on mute”, then finding out I was supposed to lead the call. Someone should have recorded that for a movie…

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Nathan Yeung
August 21, 2014 at 12:52 am

My kids teach me how to focus on the important things. I have two kids so my time is limited. I have to focus on the important things otherwise I will miss out on opportunities to make progress in my business. I try to spend quality time with them when they are awake and when my wife is awake. When they go to bed I work hard with as much focus I can possibly have after working a full day at my full-time job. When you’re a parent hustling is doubled!

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Nate Nordstrom
August 21, 2014 at 9:18 am

Good read. As a parent and entrepreneur, my advice is: do not over optimize. It might sound contrary to some of your points, but here’s the deal. Kids are smart. If I/you consistently multi-task while taking care of them they will begin to feel unloved which could result in all kinds of short and long term issues. Knowing when to focus on family alone, and when it’s okay to multi-task or work extra hours — that is the key for me. Oh, and sleep. The value of sleep goes up when you’re a parent. p.s. my wife pretty much rocks and does A LOT of the caring for our two baby boys. Still, I’m learning lots of lessons about work/family time balance.

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Nathan Love
August 21, 2014 at 9:25 am

Good callout Nate – kids are smart, and generic answers while your head is in your laptop or smart phone will only get you (and them) so far.

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Brad Hussey
August 21, 2014 at 10:36 am

Haha! This is awesome. Noah, the time I quit my day job was the time my wife found out she was pregnant. Coincidence? Perhaps. But working from home as a self-employed entrepreneur dad has been amazing. Yes, it has challenges, and time constraints, but it’s so gratifying. And I get to be at home to watch my baby girl grow.

Cheers & thanks for the great work 🙂
Brad

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John Corcoran
August 22, 2014 at 1:39 am

Great post. Yeah, it’s pretty tough once you have a kid to focus on business, but you make a good point about the power of focus.

I love how Atlas is making a “peace out” sign with his fingers in the photo.

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jeralyn
August 25, 2014 at 5:29 am

I am a mother of four beautiful children. I felt so blessed by having them…I know it was not an easy task..but still I’m happy that I had managed my time in work,home,taking care of my little ones, doing household chores,laundry, cooking foods, doing another income generating sideline small business..its kinda tiring but upon seeing those kids of mine, they keep reminding not to stop on what makes my life busy…because if I did, not only me will be affected, also my children, and their future.. Many have judged me of my busyness or my business..it was so painful to hear their judgement but, I never let them see the pain I felt.just ignore their wrong judgment.I just continue in finding ways to meet with our daily needs.I need to triple time so i could provide them …but I found myself here happy because I learned a lot from my own life experiences. That in every proble:m that we face, there always a solution in it…its up to us how we figure it out and how we deal with it.

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Mike Sudyk
August 25, 2014 at 7:16 am

Love reading your stuff Noah, always insightful and actionable. These are the tips that entrepreneur fathers need, tips that help them be engaged and intentional in the role as both fathers and business owners.

Too many fathers give into the pull toward their work and away from their kids. Thanks for the positive word toward encouraging young fathers. Peace. Love. Tacos. Spit-up.

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Keith
August 25, 2014 at 11:32 pm

This really made me laugh – “I realized after I fed him 4 ounces of food that he would fall asleep sooner”

Now try to start a biz while working 60ish hr/wk and two kids! ;P

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Renea Hanks
August 26, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Well, the fun parts to me are how quickly they learn. Both know what it means to have a successful day which they both let me know, 7 and 5 year olds, they had successful first days of school. lol

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Puneet Sahlaot
August 27, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Best thing about you, Noah is – you can share great “Business Tips” from anything and everything you do!
I am going to write a blog post, “How I met Noah Kagan?” sometime soon! 🙂

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Noah Kagan
August 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm

We had some fun in India. Thanks for the nice compliment 🙂

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Heather Allard
August 29, 2014 at 7:28 am

Noah, welcome to my world, dude 🙂

I started my first business when my firstborn was two years old…now she’s 14 and starting high school!

Since then, I’ve had two more children, have started three more businesses, and sold two of them. The businesses, not the kids. LOL.

I must admit, I take great pleasure in watching people discover the joys of having a business AND a child. 😉 It’s not for the faint of heart. Respect!

Heather

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Peter Z.
August 31, 2014 at 11:20 am

Agree with all the points. Those are the things you don’t realize until you really try it – with own kids or at least for a few days as you did, Noah.

Experiencing it every day :). Sometimes I envy young startup-er, how easy they have it. But then, I believe kids give me greater motivation to move further. Cause I develop my business not only to do my passion and earn money for life, but to ensure future for them.
And that pushes me to think really long-term.

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Ashley Gainer
August 31, 2014 at 11:11 pm

My survival strategy was a mix of your #1 and #6 — have things you do while the kid is awake, and things you do while the kid is asleep. Don’t let them cross hemispheres — e.g. I can (within reason) reply to emails, clean the spills, etc. while he’s awake; I can really only do my copywriting and client calls when he’s asleep. I don’t try to do real work when he’s up, and I don’t waste time on dishes when he’s asleep. And, wonder of wonders, there are some tasks that don’t actually have to get done, ever! (Laundry basket full of clean pajamas, I’m looking at you!)

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stewart
September 3, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Nice read!

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Nick Gulic
September 13, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Atlas is so cute. Dude, great article. I don’t have kids (yet) as I’ve always been apprehensive of the shitty return policy. This article helps me realise how it could be with a kid around (and also some good business lessons too).

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John Notgrass
October 6, 2014 at 6:17 am

My young sons like to participate in what I am doing or at least copy what I am doing. Making time and room to help them feel involved is good for me and good for them.

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Brad
October 14, 2014 at 3:56 pm

I’m extremely happy I built my online business a couple years ago before becoming a dad. Babies are demanding. There’s also that new parent learning curve. My 3 month old has changed how I look at just about everything in this short amount of time. I will say that with me running an online business it was very nice to basically take off 3 months while she was on maternity leave to figure out this baby taking care of biz together.

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Idaho Edokpayi
October 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm

This makes me feel better and also gives me a roadmap. I am trying to get something of my own off the ground (Launching soon!) but my 5 month old son has this thing against laptops.

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Joey
February 3, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Great post, I got turned onto your blog after watching a clip of you and Ramit talking about goal setting.

My wife and I have a 3 year old, work full time, I go to school at night, AND we have a wedding photography business we do on the weekends. I almost need to schedule my bathroom breaks. The lesson I’m learning from all of this is that I need to prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. When my daughter takes a nap (which is rare now that she’s 3) I immediate bust out my laptop and get more of my schoolwork done, or edit a few more wedding photographs. Then, when she’s finally asleep at night I am able to schedule a couple of hours of late-night work in there as well. Since going to school, however, my wife and I agreed that certain days of the week I’m locked away in the basement doing my work, then when the timer is up, I take care of our daugther and my wife gets her wedding photographs edited. It’s a crazy hectic schedule, but we’re working towards our main goal of growing our part-time business into a full-time gig for my wife (I say full-time, but honestly its just a couple weekends per month), while I take my new-found lessons from school and work towards my own full-time business (tech company, I’m learning full-stack right now).

This blog post has helped me realize that I need to laser-focus my goal even more and cut out even more of the stuff that is just getting in the way. For example, we’re considering hiring someone to edit our wedding photographs for us so that we can focus on growing the business.

Cheers,
Joey

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Patricia
March 19, 2015 at 4:11 am

Awesome post! Thank you very much for the insight and advice, all nicely laced with humor. Baby Atlas is adorable, more selfies please 🙂

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Ingrid Botero-Bernal
February 19, 2016 at 8:40 am

I registered a business about 4 years ago. I used it more for freelancing until now. I’m trying to actually make something out of it to actually make it my primary income. After not qualifying for the FMLA act with my last company and let go when because of it (My last day was the day I went into labor and could not longer go into work) I decided to make my business work to make income for our family. Within a month of giving birth via an emergency C-section I took a translating job. I worked over 20 hours and just got a $90 profit, it was a bust! I’m learning, this is harder than I thought, a newborn, a household to run and getting my business going. Sometimes I just feel like a freelancer and not an entrepreneur. Maybe I need better guidance….

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Ike Paz
June 30, 2016 at 1:05 am

dude, you can make a post about anything! My biggest take away from this post came in two parts, repeat the things that work or (yield the most) and second, when in doubt go back to the basics; poop, feed, move burp

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Corina Frankie
December 19, 2016 at 11:24 am

Wireless earpiece. I spend a lot of time breastfeeding and my son is at the age where anything dangling from my head will get ripped off. My ear hides the peice so I can listen to audio books while he feeds. I too have a new appreciation for working mom’s. As a buisness owner, I’ve created a very flexible work/home environment. The key take away, and you mentioned it too, is time. I pay a lot of different people to do things that don’t allow me to spend more time and focus on my son, and don’t allow me to grow as an entrepreneur and mom. Love this post Noah!

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