Working Too Much and Running a Business as a Parent

Mike Kelly and Elizabeth Larkin

As a small business owner, how do you balance your family life with your work life? You might have started your business to have control over your time, but you may find the reality of running a business is that you’re working too much. On this episode of the Small Biz Ahead podcast, hosts Elizabeth Larkin and Gene Marks discuss tactics to help you balance work time with family time.


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Elizabeth: Welcome back to the Small Biz Ahead Podcast, or should I say, “Hey, guys. Welcome back.”?-

Gene: Hey, everybody. Look at these really cool lipstick that somebody sent to me. Oh, and-

Elizabeth: This is Gene’s-

Gene: it’s our Small Business podcast.

Elizabeth: Gene’s Kim Kardashian impression.

Gene: Hey, guys.

Elizabeth: Thanks for that, Gene.

Gene: She’s awesome.

Elizabeth: Yeah. You actually wrote an article about how you think she’s an amazing businesswoman-

Gene: I’ve written a number of articles about her. By the way, I just want to it to be on record. I have no desire to ever meet or talk with Kim Kardashian or any of the Kardashians, but it drives me nuts when people bash her for being vapid and a dolt and-

Elizabeth: Yeah. Oh, I know.-

Gene: Whatever. I think she’s super smart. I think that if you watch her show and watch her in action … Look, you try to build something out of nothing.-

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: It’s a woman who really does have no talents except for the fact that she can promote herself and her lifestyle.-

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: The woman has tens of millions of followers. Their whole family does.-

Elizabeth: I think the real-

Gene: Powerful.-

Elizabeth: I think the real brains there might be the mom.-

Gene: The mother. Yup. Kris Jenner is-

Elizabeth: The original Momager.

Gene: She is manager. She is managing it all, but Kim is very much behind it.

What fascinates me about all those women is they’re in their 30s, so they’re no longer kids. They’re no longer in-

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: Their 20s. It’ll be fascinating to see how they evolve themselves over the next 20 years.-

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: You know what I mean? What their fans, you know. I am fully confident that they will. That they will-

Elizabeth: Think about-

Gene: Continue to-

Elizabeth: What will an 80-year-old Khloe Kardashian be doing?

Gene: You laugh and you say, “An 80-year-old Kim?” Honestly, she is smart enough that she will have a lot of-

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: 80-year-old, mostly women, that will be fans of hers because she’s doing whatever is cool for an 80-year-old to do at that time. That’s what they do.

Anyway, lots of respect for her. The Kardashians.

Elizabeth: Okay. On that note, we will be back with our first question which is about ‘What happens if you’re a small business owner and you’re driving your spouse crazy?’

We’ll be back with that after this word from our sponsor.

QUESTION #1: Working Too Much

We’re back!

Our first question is from Devora in Oak Grove, Oregon. Devora writes, “My spouse feels that I spend too much time at work. I could hire another employee to help with some of the new business, but I don’t think I need to. Am I being pigheaded?”

I’m not a business owner so I’m going to let you answer this one, Gene.-

Gene: I actually will answer that one.

When people ask me about starting up a business, because it sounds like she’s in a very small-

Elizabeth: I think she’s saying she’s getting a new business, but I don’t think her business is new.-

Gene: Okay. That’s fine, but when people talk to me about starting up a business, I always say you have to have plenty of capital available and you have to have 100% buy-in from your spouse.

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: You really do.

Starting up a business and running an established business, particularly as you’re growing it, it’s an enormous commitment to make. It is something that both, if you’re married couple, both of you guys have got to be in it because-

Elizabeth: You’re both taking on the risk-

Gene: You are. Even if one has a job and the other is running the business, you guys are both. This is your livelihood, this is your lifestyle and a lot of things get affected by all of this.

The first thing I have to tell you is that if you have one spouse that’s running a business, spending too much time in the business and the other spouse is unhappy about that, you have to reevaluate your situation. That might mean not doing that business. That might mean hiring somebody to allow you to have more time. That might mean divorcing your spouse. I’m serious when I say that.

You got to choose what you want to do with your life. If you are in your life, if somebody else is a big part of your life, you’ve got to make those choices jointly.

Clearly one person you divorce, husband I guess? Is that right? Right?-

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: Right. Her husband’s unhappy because she’s not around enough. That’s going to continue to be a problem unless she addresses it.

Elizabeth: Let’s say they have that discussion and she decides- He’s like, “Yeah. You know what? You’re right. Maybe we need to both rethink about our priorities and what we expect from each other’s time and everything.”

We just had a writer. She’s working on an eBook for us and it’s “21 Days to be a More Productive Small Business Owner”-

Gene: Okay.-

Elizabeth: She writes a whole section on the difference between outsourcing some of the work you do in your business and outsourcing some of the work you do at home. If you’re a business owner, you still have to clean your house, meal plan, cook-

Gene: Do you?

Elizabeth: You are expected to do that in a lot of cases-

Gene: Unless you decide to outsource some of those-

Elizabeth: You could outsource it-

Gene: That’s right-

Elizabeth: Another option here is hire. It’s probably a lot cheaper to hire a cleaning service than to hire a new employee so, have a cleaning service come in. Maybe start doing one of those meal-in-a-box plans. What are those called? Meal delivery kits-

Gene: Blue Apron.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: Yup.

Elizabeth: Blue Apron type thing-

Gene: Right. Right.-

Elizabeth: There’s another one, Plated that’s really good-

Gene: Right.-

Elizabeth: Sun Basket. There’s a ton of those-

Gene: Right-

Elizabeth: Yard work? Can pay someone to do that for you.-

Gene: Correct.

Elizabeth: You can also hire a virtual assistant, would really inexpensive. That can do all those things like making doctors appointments, making travel arrangements.

Yeah. Your business is still going to be taking over your life, pretty much as a small business owner. You knew that when you got into it.-

Gene: Right.-

Elizabeth: If you’re spending a lot of time outside of your business taking care of your house and doing errands and that type of thing, you can outsource those. That will free up some of your time.

Gene: Right.

Now we have issues. Like my wife and I, as I started speaking a lot more and travelling a lot more, we were both unhappy when I was being booked to speak places on the weekends.

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: You know? The worst.

Elizabeth, to go somewhere on a Sunday. It just stinks, you know?-

Elizabeth: It’s depressing. Yeah.-

Gene: I hate it, or to spend Saturday night away.

I remember one time. It was a couple years ago. I had to speak on a Saturday in Nashville and I was staying at literally a motel in Nashville, before I was speaking. I was just miserable by myself.

You got to think about yourself and your quality of life and-

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: Of course, your spouse’s quality of life. You do have to like together. Both of us agreed, no more weekend gigs. We’d rather not have the money so-

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: That we could at least have our weekends together-

Elizabeth: You really cherish your weekends, right?-

Gene: We really do.-

Elizabeth: You’ve got your routines and-

Gene: Yeah. We really do and when that gets taken away. You work hard enough during the week that when your weekends get taken away- Now, I’m not saying that happens all the time, sometimes there’s an exception, but for the most part. You know, we made that rule together and I think that’s another thing you could do.

I love the outsourcing idea, but if Devora gets together with her husband and says, “Okay. Why don’t we make some agreements here. That I will absolutely be around for this and-

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: We’ll make sure that we have date night Friday nights and that we have whatever. Can we compromise?-

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: I will make sure that that happens.” That might be another way to compromise. Okay?

Elizabeth: All right. Good tips there.

Okay. We will be back with our second question. This is another lifestyle question. This is from a single parent who’s a small business owner.

QUESTION #2: Running a Business as a Parent

Okay. We’re back with question two. This is from Jose from Columbia, Missouri. Jose writes, “I’m a single parent and a small business owner and completely overwhelmed. I know other people who do it. I just don’t know how they do it. What’s the secret to keeping your head above water?”

This is pretty- First of all, congratulations to you because I don’t know how- First of all, being a single parent seems like the hardest thing ever-

Gene: I don’t get it. I don’t see how people do that. It’s so difficult. So difficult-

Elizabeth: Doing both. Again, I would go back to question one there and anything you can outsource at home, I think you should definitely do; running errand, cleaning the house. When are you ever going to find time with it? If you do do that, you’re not going to do a very good job-

Gene: Yeah.-

Elizabeth: I feel like you should definitely try to outsource those things.

Gene: You know it’s funny with parenting, as well as. It’s such a conflict because you want to be around your kids and be a good parent, particularly when they’re younger. Then at the same time, once they get older you want to have some money in the bank to help them. Help them pay for college, help them with certain expenses. It’s good to have some money when your kids become teenagers and even into their 20s. It’s a conflict because, “Well to get that money, I’m going to have to work a lot of hours and-

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: I’m going to probably have to put those hours in a time when I won’t be around for you.” That’s a real big, personal decision that you have to make.

There is nobody, particularly two dopey people like you and me. Well I’m speaking for myself, it’s okay?-

Elizabeth: You can include me in that-

Gene: You know, it’s just myself. That we’re here on a podcast, we don’t know him personally and we don’t know his situation personally. It’s a personal choice as to what you want to devote for your business and what you think it will bring to your family. I can’t argue with whatever that choice may wind up being.

The only other thing I can also say is that being a small business owner’s a great thing for single parents because when people ask me, “What’s the thing that I. Why do I start a business? Or, why do I like running a business?” My biggest reason is control. You know I still work a lot of hours, but I can control when I work those hours. If you have a job, no matter what big company you work for, you got to be there between nine to five, or eight to six, or whatever-

Elizabeth: Yup.-

Gene: You have limited flexibility; whereas, if you do run your own company, depending on the type of work that you do, you might be able to do work. You know, raise your kid and be around. Then do your thing work-wise when your hours are more suitable. Depends on what you do.

Elizabeth: I think also, setting a really strict schedule for yourself.

Also going back to the first question, Gene’s advice to make some-

Gene: Me-time together, right?-

Elizabeth: Some me-time-

Gene: Yup.-

Elizabeth: You need to do that: ‘A’ for yourself probably and with your kid and-

Gene: Yup.-

Elizabeth: Just have some things that just, absolutely no exceptions. This is my time with my kid. Like, “That’s it.” I think that would put some structure around it. I think that would probably make you feel less like you’re drowning.

Good luck. That is a tough situation, but-

Gene: Toughy.-

Elizabeth: I think that will end up with the flexibility and the control of your time, if you can make it work, that would be a great thing.

All right. We’ll be right back with Gene’s ‘Word of Brilliance’ and then you got to get going, right?

Gene: Yup.-

Elizabeth: It’s one-

Gene: Yup.-

Elizabeth: Oh-six-

Gene: I think this will be it.

Elizabeth: Yes.


Okay and we’re back with Gene’s ‘Word of Brilliance’.

Gene: Instagram-

Elizabeth: I love Instagram!-

Gene: I don’t use Instagram-

Elizabeth: I have 9,000 followers on Instagram-

Gene: Do you really? That’s fantastic! Is that all of? How did you get 9,000 followers?

Elizabeth: I write a travel blog about Connecticut and I just post pictures and write about where they were taken and it’s not just about Connecticut. I will post pictures of vacations I take and everything and people just love pictures of different adventures they can take-

Gene: Fantastic.-

Elizabeth: I provide a little information for them. Like, “If you’re going to go to this town, you can go to this place” and people like it.

Gene: That’s great.

Now Elizabeth, I’m going to teach you how to make a little bit of money on Instagram because when you post things on Instagram, Instagram just very recently has given tools to business owners that use Instagram to promote their products and such. Where when you send out these posts, you can not only have that post and say you’re writing about a certain spot and maybe you want to sell a tee-shirt related to that spot, or a coffee mug, or something like that, you can actually say, “Click here to buy a coffee mug related to this spot.” When they click it right on Instagram, it can either take them to a spot now, like your website, or whatever that will show them more information about it, or right from there in Instagram now. Facebook, which I was Instagram. Has now given you the ability to purchase right from Instagram.

Elizabeth: That’s amazing-

Gene: If you’ve got your credit card details set up on Facebook, all you need to. “Do you like this coffee mug that I’m showing you about this mug? Buy it right now by clicking on here” and boom. It takes the Facebook. You know, the credit card information they stored. Purchase is already done. It goes right dollars into your account-

Elizabeth: Wow.-

Gene: Take your 9,000 followers and say, “Elizabeth, if you can make five bucks off of each follower let’s see-

Elizabeth: Oh my goodness!-

Gene: That would be $45,000. You could retire from The Hartford-

Elizabeth: What?-

Gene: Right? Do a little bit more travelling. That’s how-

Elizabeth: Amazing.-

Gene: You can make some money with Instagram.-

Elizabeth: Amazing.-

Gene: Instagram is the word.

Elizabeth: That’s really-

Gene: New. This is new.-

Elizabeth: That’s a big ‘B’ to ‘C’ play. That’s-

Gene: Big. Big-

Elizabeth: That’s-

Gene: ‘B’ to ‘C’ play. That’s exactly right, but boy! Again, we’ve talked in other podcasts about going after millennials. We’ve talked about Snapchat [inaudible 00:14:26].

Instagram is hugely popular and-

Elizabeth: Yup.-

Gene: Depending on the kind of stuff that you sell, you know. Even if you’ve just got an Instagram account where you’re showing pictures, or whatever and you’ve got a fair amount of followers. Kind of cool to. You might make a few bucks off it, if you can think up a few things you want to sell and-

Elizabeth: Yeah.-

Gene: Instagram will now make it super easy for you to do that.

Elizabeth: Cool. All right. Great!

Thanks for joining us, everyone. Thanks for being here, Gene.

Gene: Happy to be here.

Elizabeth: We’ll talk to you all next week.

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