How to Build a Company while being a dad

30 months ago, while running my first company, I wanted to “set the pace” by being the first one in the office and the last to leave. I enjoyed feeling like I was putting it all out on the line: my friends, my finances, my family. My health suffered, my relationships suffered, but I was content in trying to change the world through my efforts.

And then, my daughter Marley was born. And I learned that there was so much more to a well balanced life than time spent at your desk.

In the 30 months since Marley was born, I left CustomMade and founded a new company, ButcherBox. I have never worked a Friday while scaling up a 25 person profitable e-commerce company. We also recently welcomed a pair of identical twin girls into our lives.

Here is a list of things I have learned while running a company and being a dad to young kids.

  • Follow your passion — being away is hard enough, make it count. The businesses I like to start are about more than making a living, they are about trying to make a small dent in an entrenched global system. First I did this by creating a marketplace to connect craftspeople and consumers, now I am bringing meat from small farms to the masses.
  • Find a day a week not to work (4 day workweeks force your team to step it up while forcing you to work on what matters) spend rest of time at home. This has been the hardest but most rewarding. I don’t work on work on Fridays, I hang out with my kids. I am still thinking, I will still do a lunch or a mentoring meeting every once in awhile, but the focus is on my children, not work.
  • Find ME time (mine is from 430AM -6AM). I find that I need time for myself… so I have to wake up before the craziness begins! I do my Headspace meditation, have a stretch, drink some great coffee, review my goals, and prepare for my day!
  • Kids spell love T.I.M.E. I learned this one from the great Jim Walsh when I asked him for the one piece of advice he would give me about having kids. It has been super helpful to remind myself of this one.
  • Get your kids involved in the business. Sometimes that means being able to laugh at yourself (this little video did 220K views, and helped us sell a LOT of bacon!)
  • Focus on the most important projects and be OK that the job is never done. You will never find enough hours to do everything, so learn patience with yourself. Utilize a task manager, make sure you are hitting the highest priority items, and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t finish everything you need to in a day.
  • Limit your downside: In other words, dont bet the farm. Use platforms like kickstarter to prove the model. We started ButcherBox for an all in investment of $10,000. Dont feel like you need to spend a lot to get your idea off the ground. Spend as little as possible to get the information you need. Adapt. Then Repeat.

Finally, take it easy and try to enjoy. I’m told that the time you spend with small children is so fleeting. Try to not “crank through tasks” but to enjoy all the little small moments within your business and your personal life!

Mike with his wife Karlene, daughter Marley and newborn twin girls