To All Those Business Leaders Who Want to Be Better Parents

Create a Win at Home by Doing What You Already Know

I used to joke with fellow business leaders who wanted to become better parents that it was much easier to be the CEO of my business than it was to be the CEO of my own home.

Happy father business man with little baby son

When I left the office each day, I left a world of rules, strategies, and success and entered a world of chaos, drama, and raging hormones.

I’ve been blessed to enjoy some success in business. I’m the President and CEO of the company I co-founded fifteen years ago—Cottage Garden, Inc. We are the #1 supplier of musical gift products in North America. In 2009, Cottage Garden was National Small Business of the Year Runner-Up. We have over two hundred sales representatives in ten countries, and our products are found in tens of thousands of retailers worldwide. In other words, I knew what I was doing when it came to running a business.

But, to be totally candid, the chaos at home left me bewildered and confused. I found myself staying away from home, traveling more frequently—up to half the year—so I wouldn’t have to deal with my own sense of inadequacy. Even though I loved everyone at home, I lacked the clarity and confidence to be a better parent. Or so I thought.

After several years of this crazy pattern, I knew I had to find a different way to manage our family. Our legacy was just too important to let drift aimlessly. We needed a fresh approach our kids could embrace that made sense to my wife and me.

A Fresh Approach to Parenting

The solution hit me one weekend as the kids were discussing starting their own business. My initial reaction was that I could show them how to start, build, and run a successful business, as the odds are good that at least 50% of my children will choose the entrepreneurial path.

I wish I could tell you I figured out how to become a better parent all at once, as if an apple fell from a tree and knocked the idea into my head. The reality is that it started with a desire to prepare my kids for the future by using what I already knew how to do.

What happened next was nothing short of life changing for every member of our family.

To better demonstrate business principles for our kids, I began thinking about our family as if it were a business.

And it changed everything. I discovered that what I already knew about succeeding in business worked just as well for succeeding at home.

The Most Valuable Business in the World

It started with the most basic of business practices—meetings. Frankly, the first family meetings were not well received. We definitely did not have buy-in from the team. And so we resorted to bribery. We began conducting meetings outside around the campfire with S’Mores as the main attraction. That did it. Soon the kids were asking for more.

As the meetings gained momentum I began looking for a way to get more buy-in for approaching our family as a business. It was then the next idea hit me: why not incorporate our family?

And so we did. We went through the entire legal process of formally setting up a business and awarded each member of the family a stake as a shareholder in the family business—2BTimms, LLC. Of course, mom and dad still held a majority of the voting stock, but suddenly everyone had ownership, everyone had skin in the game.

With that ownership came responsibility for maintenance of the family, the house, the yard, and more. Perhaps most importantly, each family member knew they had a vote, a voice, and a stake in improving what we call “our bottom line”—a stronger, healthier, and happier family.

Now I use what I already know—how to lead a successful business—to lead and grow my family every day. And I love it!

The purpose of this blog is to share more of what we’ve learned from thinking of our family as a business. You can follow along and learn more learn more about our fresh approach to building a family we can be proud of by subscribing today. When you do, you’ll get my eBook Win at Home Like You Win at Work for free.

I am now proud to say that I am not only the CEO of the company I co-founded fifteen years ago, I am the CEO of the most valuable business in the world—my family.

Question:Do you struggle to win at home like you win at work? What issues are your greatest challenges and sources of frustration as a parent? You can share your thoughts by clicking here.

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  • Ken Eitel

    Thanks Mark, I would add, learning and applying your family members gifts and talents, as well as communication styles, to the “family” business mirrors the team-building necessary for business success.