::Guest post:: Elena Shifrina is the founder of BioFoodLab. She grew her startup into Russia’s leading healthy snacks company and Europe’s fastest growing healthy foods brand. Today, BioFoodLab has sales in 15 countries, from the UK to Saudi Arabia, China and Japan. It was recently featured on CNN’s Traders and in the Russian daily Vedomosti and Forbes. Follow Elena on Twitter or Instagram. Here, she shares her tips for running a successful business and a happy family.
A lot of women who want to start a business ask me if it’s possible to have both a successful career as an entrepreneur and a happy family.
My answer is a resounding yes. The key is organizing your family life as well as you organize your work life.
As with running a business, organizing your family life requires thinking about priorities, and learning from – and adjusting to – any mistakes you make.
Here are tips for running a successful business and a happy family based on my experience that can help a female business owner lay her own foundation. They’ve helped guide me as I’ve grown my healthy snacks startup, BioFoodLab, from a bootstrapped venture into Europe’s fastest growing healthy foods brand and Russia’s market leader, with sales in 15 countries around the world, including the UK, UAE, China, and Japan. We’re fresh off finalizing a multimillion-dollar investment deal in December 2017, and I routinely perform a self-check these days to make sure that I’m maintaining the right work-life balance.
Prepare for mornings the night before.
Mornings can make the difference between a day that starts off on a positive note, holding the promise of good things to come, or one that starts off poorly and makes you feel it will get worse. To help everyone in the family get off to a good start, plan your morning the night before. Lay out the kids’ clothes for the next day, or have them do it if they’re old enough. Figure out what kind of breakfast you’ll prepare, and set the table. If you have an early-morning meeting, ask your partner if they can take the kids to school. The time you spend in the evening planning your morning can head off a day that starts with everyone feeling grumpy, frazzled and throwing up their hands in despair.
Put together a family calendar.
It should include both routine commitments and special activities. Examples of entries would be school and family events, extracurricular activities, birthdays, a chore chart for the kids, even bill due dates. One reason that keeping a calendar helps family life run smoother is that it minimizes the chance of a nasty surprise — forgetting that your daughter’s piano lesson has changed from a Wednesday to a Thursday, for example. Google Calendar or a similar online tool is a good way to keep track because it’s easy to update.
Plan a special event for the kids at least once a week.
Take them to the zoo, ice skating, or whatever. Special events are not only fun, but help families bond. If you don’t have time for an event that you know will take up several hours (such as a trip to the aquarium), then have a family breakfast or download a new movie and watch it with the kids before bedtime. To make sure a special event’s magic lasts from beginning to end, turn off your cell phone. Kids want your undivided attention during these times. Answering a work-related call sends a message that they are not a priority for you.
Create time for yourself.
When you’re running a business while also helping a family run smoothly, you can feel overwhelmed. There’s nothing worse than thinking you don’t have a moment to yourself. Create that moment one way or another. Go to a coffee shop alone. Read a book. Take a walk through the park. You’ll be amazed at how refreshing these breaks can be. They can get you revved up again to stay on top of your fast-paced life.
Spend time with your partner.
It’s natural for women to focus most of their off-duty time on their kids. After all, kids need a mom like no one else in their life. But an all-encompassing focus on kids can cause the magic of a relationship to fade. You need the love, attention and support of a partner for a fulfilling life as well. So create special times with them. Have the grandparents watch the kids while you and your partner go to dinner. Take a weekend trip to the mountains with your partner — again, with your taking care of your brood. These moments will rekindle the love and contentment you need to run a successful business while ensuring a satisfying family life.
Build a business with a larger mission.
Growing a business isn’t easy, especially when you have to juggle all the accompanying pleasures and pains with your family life as well. This is doubly so when you have children! Sometimes, you might feel as though you’re making some sort of a tradeoff (it’s inevitable you’ll occasionally feel this way), and you’re going to wonder if it’s worth it. So make sure it is. You can do that by pursuing a business that has a larger mission.
Before I started BioFoodLab, the whole trend of healthy living and eating were only just starting in Russia and the former Soviet Union. Few thought it would survive, no less thrive the way that it does today. My mission was to help usher in this social evolution and, at the same time, to make healthy food not only available to everyone, but a mainstay of children’s diets across the country and region. Today, we’re at the forefront of this movement. I feel great knowing that, by investing time in my business, I’m making society a better place for my family and my kids.
But really, you have two families now!
I feel like I have two families — my husband and our children, and my team at BioFoodLab. Taking care of them both is my utmost priority. Of course, there are only so many hours in a day. But when I think this way, it helps me to preserve the right balance in my life, to understand where my priorities lie, to push myself to spend time only on things that truly add value, and to ensure that I make the best use of my time when I am at home with my loved-ones or at work with my colleagues.
If any of you have tips for running a successful business and a happy family, please share in the comments below.