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The Globe and Mail

Parenthood changes how you look at your company

Recently, I had lunch with two partners in a successful business. Friends from school, they had started their company seven years before and had put in the long hours needed to grow it.

In the beginning, these two guys had treated their business like one grand adventure. They hired friends, worked hard and played hard, and, at times, their business became an extension of their social lives. They didn't worry much about the future or obsess about how much money they were making. They were having fun, which is what a lot of young, single entrepreneurs do in the first few years of owning a business.

Recently, however, something changed that caused both partners to re-evaluate what they wanted out of their business: They both became a dad in the past year.

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I asked them how fatherhood has affected their business. Both revealed that it has made them rethink how they run their company.

They're no longer satisfied to take their business as it comes and compensate for bad planning by working longer hours. Instead, they now want to stop treating their business as a hobby, scale up and make some money.

I think I know how they are feeling because becoming a parent had a similar effect on me . I would describe it as a kind of subconscious sense that I, along with my business, needed to grow up.

I had to stop looking for my business to double as a social club. I had to stop reacting and start planning how to build a business that could run without me putting in 80-hour weeks. I had to get my employees to take over key relationships so I could stop travelling so much.

I'd read lots of books on company-building, heard gurus talk at Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) conferences and met many successful entrepreneurs. However, none of those were the triggers for me to get more serious about my business life.

Instead, my trigger came from meeting a little eight-pound creature for the very first time.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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John Warrillow is a writer, speaker and angel investor in a number of start-up companies. He is the author of Built To Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You, published by Portfolio Penguin.

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