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Online Business for Dads (five tips for you)

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In this blog you will get some tips for building online businesses while still maintaining the role of the perfect dad who’s present with his children.

Now this is of course a topic that resonates a lot with me these days after my second child (Oliver) was born in January. So how do you balance the business sides of things with the family side of things.

Now I think the the whole Dad and family angle is important. A lot of the blogs on lifestyle design online are usually run by fairly young men in their twenties free from obligations and roaming around in Southeast Asia. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this is a bad thing. I mean if I could spend all year in our house in Thailand I would probably do so, but the issue is that it’s much easier to be your own boss and do exactly what you want to do, when you don’t have obligations such as a mortgage and a family to take care of.

Again I’m not saying that you cannot travel around Thailand if you have a family (on the contrary, that’s one of my points) – I’m just saying that the online voice on lifestyle design is often dominated by guys in their twenties who has not yet bought into the whole wife and kids thing.

This post should serve as a needed contrast to that.

The Challenges of Being a Father

So what is the issues here. Where are the challenges when it comes to being the perfect father who wants to break free of a 9-5 and have more time with the family.

1) You need a cashflow to support your family

If you are a twenty something you guy travelling Southeast Asia, you just need to earn $1-2000 per month in order to live like a prince. This is easily reached by simply freelancing for a a couple of clients (like setting up a website or doing some writing). But if you’re currently in a 9-5, have a wife and two kids and live in the US, you probably need to earn a little more than that in order to maintain your desired lifestyle.

While someone like Timothy Ferriss might recommend that you cut down on obligations, I like to say that each and every person are where they should be in their lives. If you’re a family guy, enjoy spending time with your family, love the neighbourhood you live in, are active in the local community, then you probably don’t want to chase other people’s dream of moving to Buenos Aires for six months and learning to dance the Tango.

So I’m not advocating that you sell all your things and start from scratch in order to travel. Just know that it’s an option if your dream as a family is to travel the world. Then a good strategy could be selling or renting out your home while you are away on a boat somewhere for a year.

But bottom line is this: If you have a family and obligations you need to make a baseline income in order to pay your bills.

2) Your kids take time

More OliverAnd that’s a good thing. Especially being able to spend a lot of time with your kids while they’re young (once they reach their teens they suddenly don’t want to know of you… or at least that’s what I’ve been told :)). But it also means that you don’t have all the time in the world in order to work on your online business empire that eventually will set you free financially.

Having kids have just made me want to focus my life even more. I have way more times with my kids than those of my friends who are working in a normal 9-5, I’m way more flexible when it comes doing stuff with my kids in “normal business hours” (and that’s usually when they are awake, right?!)

This fact alone is one of the reason that I like to promote lifestyle design and help people taking action in their own lives.

Now on the other hand, I do talk with entrepreneurs (online as well as offline) who say to themselves (and their families) that they will just work intensively on their business for a limited period and after that they will have time to spend on the family again. Heck just the other day I read a blog of a Danish entrepreneur who worked 100 hours a week and was proud of it (don’t even get me started on time versus productivity).

The problem with this strategy is that
1) it always takes longer to setup your business than you plan, and
2) people with this mentality will most often have trouble cutting back on the hours once it’s possible
3) people with this mentality often think that time (and working hard) can solve a problem instead of using strategies such as the Pareto Principle and Parkinson’s Law (as well as a ton of other strategies) to work smarter. They adapt the 9-5 mindset and think that work is measured in time (not results).

So you might just scrap this (at least if you want to spend time with your family) and look into other strategies.

Five Tips for the Online Dad

So does this mean that you shouldn’t build an online business if you’re a dad? (or mom for that matter… Sorry girls, I haven’t experience motherhood but guess you’re facing the same issues ;))

No of course not, I would suggest the following list of tips.

1) Allocate a little time each day when the kids are sleeping

Turn off the TV and bring out the trusty old notebook, pour yourself a good glass of red wine, put on your favorite pair of slippers and work for 1-2 hours.

The important thing here is not how much time you spend but that you do it every day like clockwork. It only takes 21 days to form a habit (or at least so they say) so what might feel a little odd in the beginning will feel very natural after three weeks.

It’s important that you do it at the same time every night. I know that this might limit your social life, so you can also select to just do it say 5 times a week (at least one hour).

You don’t have time you say? Well according to research apparent we all watch 34 hours of TV every week, so at least someone is having a ton of time but is prioritizing differently.

So focus on getting the habit of working on your business each and every day. I know that 5-15 hours of work per week might not sound like much, but at least this way you will at some point have an online business compared to if you worked zero hours a week.

2) Focus on a single strategy

A lot of people who work with online businesses tend to suffer from the shiny object syndrome and in our terminology it might be the “shiny business model syndrome” where we try different strategies for making money online.

I for one have quite a few projects that I’m a little embarrassed to show off on this blog ;).

So focus on one thing and choose a strategy that you believe has worked for others. It’s really not about what strategy you choose. It’s more about what you choose first!

A lot of people tend to get stuck in either choosing the right business model/strategy or choosing the market/niche to go into. And again, sure there are probably better niches than others (like fitness, dating and stock trading) but it’s really just a decision and the longer you refrain from taking that decision the longer you will stay in limbo and not move forward at all.

And in the end, you can make money in most markets/niches as long as your passionate about the topic!

Once you’ve built your first online business you have attained super valuable knowledge about what works and what doesn’t and you can focus on building the next business even better.

3) Manage the expectations

You probably want to get the support of your wife or girlfriend.

The problem is that for a lot of girls don’t see it as work when you sit in front of the computer working on your next online empire. It can be difficult to understand because your sitting in the precise same positions with your computer as when you’re watching the new Lady Gaga video on Youtube.

So it’s important to let her know what you’re doing that one our each evening. You could also try to let her in on what you’re doing. There’s a lot of room for entrepreneurial moms online as well.

Also try to focus on why you are doing this. Why would you want to spend time infront
of the computer, what are your trying to achieve for yourself and your family?

When the brain is given a reason it is much more inclined to accept it (a little theory if you’re interested).

4) Focus on taking consistent action

Remember that I said that the niche and strategy you select was not important but just decisions?

The problem is that we tend to push (what we believe to be) hard decisions in front of us. Stopping everything else in the process. I’ve seen tons of people spending months on choosing the right e-commerce platform to use with their new e-commerce website. The answer is that it doesn’t matter, just select a platform and move on. You have just wasted months where you could have been shoveling in money.

Realize that most decision can be re-taken. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You need to be able to take quick decisions and realize that your time should not be used on “thinking about stuff” but on taking action on where it creates value.

So if someone evaluated e-commerce platforms for the first two months, well guess what, in those two months they could have had a complete solution designed and implemented, they could have spent the time putting in hundreds of products, they could have started their first AdWords campaign and getting their first paying customers.

Decisions don’t take time. They are instant. Don’t spend too much time on them, instead focus on taking consistent action where it matters.

5) Remember that you are a father first

Nothing should mean more to you than your kids. I know a lot of people will agree with me in this, but when the same people tell me that they are working 50+ hours per week in their 9-whatever job I must laugh (at least on the inside). If this was not a contradiction I don’t know what is.

In the end you are doing this in order to be able to spend more time with your kids and family. And that’s what count the most.

Good luck in your Dadventures 🙂

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6 Responses to Online Business for Dads (five tips for you)

  1. Robert says:

    This post deserves attention.

    When I became a father something similar happened to me. Before I had blindly accepted the “fact” that you went to work, spent all day there, came home to sleep and then repeated the process. To me, there was nothing really wrong with that life.

    When my daughter was born that changed dramatically. I began dreading to go to work, thinking “why have a child if I never get to spend time with her?” Later, I’ve reevaluated slightly. Now I’m more worried by the fact that I sell my life by trading my time for money at work and that really bothers me. Therefore I try to break free and do something on my own terms instead.

    PS. The benefits gained form having a more flexible schedule as a single entrepreneur are negligible in my world. What I gain from running my own business is doing things more efficiently and having more free time in total.

    • rasmus says:

      Thanks for sharing your story Robert. I’m totally with you which is also why I’m trying to get more people to see the light 🙂

      The whole notion of being able to only spend time on the things your passionate about is super important to me. Unfortunately it has also corrupted me and I don’t think that I will ever be a “good” employee or work for someone else again…

  2. Rob Leonardo says:

    Well said! I am exactly in this situation and I like #1. I am doing this now but with a bit of laziness sometimes. Thanks for those words- it’s like an affirmation for me. Over the weekends, as my wife works on weekends, I have my two days with my daughter and snatch a bit of time early in the morning and on the afternoon nap to get to my online work. That’s the way it is. I am learning more and more that I need to spend more time working after my day job to get it right!

    Surely, it would have been different if I did not have a family. But I can say that having this family is the best thing that ever happened to me!

    • Rasmus says:

      Hey Rob,

      Good to hear from you. Yeah – sometimes I just feel that a lot of blogs in the lifestyle design space is dominated by young guys in the beginning of their twenties, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, I still think we need to balance it out a bit by talking about how do this while being a family man 🙂

      It’s great that you are able to get this done and keep the focus!

  3. anders says:

    Good Reading. Will become a dad one of the next days, and are spculating alot about the how I can be as good as the “young once” enjoying their life in Asia. I guess the only way, is to be more focused, and watch less Lady Gaga videos. 🙂 Good read!

    • Rasmus says:

      Hey Anders
      Thanks… Well, it’s not about living in Asia is it :). It’s really about giving you the freedom to do exactly what it is you want to do in your life. For my family and I it has been to spend the winter in Thailand, but this could as well just be able to spend the day hours with your kids (if you have any) or have all the time in the world to watch Lady Gaga videos with a good conscience 😀

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