Fatherpreneur.com

My journey of balancing small business and small kids


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Reflecting on a stressful 2014 or was it?

Over the past few weeks I have begun to feel a stress unlike any I have during my journey as a parentpreneur.  The end of year approaching should be a time of excitement and joy. The anticipation of time off around the corner should light up my smile like the lights on our Christmas tree, yet I have found myself buried under the stress of work and worry. The end of the year for many entrepreneurs has us looking at the finances, goals, and in my case projects wrapping up. Projects don’t always coincide with the year end, but in my case I have two that have been inching a long for the better part of seven months coming to a close. Finishing is not my strong suit, I’m a starter by nature which may explain why I go so long between posts.

This year has been interesting fun and stressful year. We had a lot going on, in fact it’s probably been to much. Buried under my own self talk and stress I was glad to have a great call with my coach who reminded me of how good the year has been. I beat last year’s income (not necessarily profit), opened a real estate franchise office and quadrupled our agent count albeit from two to eight,  I think on some level that may be the hardest jump. The momentum should help us grow quicker next year. We also will finish our strongest year building homes.  The conversation with my coach was a good one because it helped pull me out of the muck of the day to day. When I get lost in the stress of all that has to get done with work and then helping manage a household, raise two kids and support my wife in her growing business it all seems to much. I think about shutting it down some days and just going back to a job where the weekends are really free. I have come close on a few occasion especially with the late night client calls and text ,the weekends full of questions and working with someone for months only to have them use some one else with out a second thought. When I’m caught in the stress I only see the bad, I don’t see the wonderful clients, the great conversations, the fun weekends, the hundreds of people we help employee through building. The stress causes me to lose sight of the dream that drives me, the desire to build a business that helps fellow real estate agents change their careers and lives.

It’s nice to have someone remind me of what we have accomplished instead of what feels sometimes like a series of short comings. Maybe it’s the nature of an entrepreneurs to strive to the next level all the while forgetting the level you’re on is last year’s next level. Andy Andrews says that those who can get through the fog of life seasons will be the one’s to see the reward on the other side. Well, I have turned my fog lights on and I’m going to power through.

This year end take time to review what you have accomplished. Maybe your income went up or down, think about what caused these results. What struggles did you have to deal with that you overcame? Sometimes familial changes or stress can cause your business to slip. I had a daughter in the hospital twice this year causing a new source worry and anxiety. Thankfully all is well, but I can tell you my results during that time were less than stellar financially. However I managed to push thru and I was there for my family when they needed me and that’s more important than a few extra sales.

Before you plan 2015 take a few minutes to review 2014. You may find that you accomplished more than you know and overcame some obstacles that taught you great lessons. The pain and stress are hard at the moment, but the lessons learned can be invaluable if utilized. It’s in the pain that we grow and its on reflection you get the knowledge of such growth.  The wisdom gained in a stressful year will only help to handle the next year better and so on. What once was stressful when faced again is less stressful.

Ask yourself the following questions?

1. What three situations did I overcome that helped me grow? What did I learn about myself in these situations?

2. In 2014 what worked well in my business and family and how can I make it better in 2015?

3. What are three areas I can improve that would make my work and family life better? Are there simple things I can implement like getting a maid for home and new technology for the office? What are some longer term strategies I need to get started on now to have ready for 2016?

This reflection is key to setting goals for 2015. Apply these thoughts to every area of your life.  You may find that 2014 was not as stressful as it seemed in the moment or that it may have been a year of great growth.  The story of your 2014 is yours to tell and yours to assign meaning to. That’s the beauty of life. When I look back on 2014 it was much better than I thought and I’m encouraged how it’s going to help me have a great 2015.
Have a great end to 2014 and get rested for a huge 2015.

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Be a pro during stressful times

Being a business owner can be extremely stressful at times. Okay, it’s stressful most of the time especially during the start-up, massive growth, transition, downsizing, or Monday through Friday. A small business owner is CEO, CFO, COO and DAD at the same time, which equals to lots of WINE (just occasionally).

Lets throw on top of that being in the real estate business where your clients are generally going through something considered second only to death in terms of stress, moving.  It’s my job and current life’s work to help people get from one place to another.  Handing the keys over to a first time buyer is a great feeling. Handing a check over to a couple who just sold their recently passed dad’s house is heartfelt.  This business is amazing. However it has it’s stresses with odd hours, weekends, late night phone calls. When the world is getting off at 5 pm after a normal business day your second half is often just beginning. Being successful in this business is tough and the rewards are great as well.

One of the most difficult aspects of business is working with your clients and other parties emotions.  People are going to handle stress a different way. It amazes me that I can have two clients going through similar situations in the same week and handle it completely opposite. One will get angry and frantic and the other will take it in stride and roll with it.  I have learned that both clients are right.  They have the right to feel what they feel.

I am a “roll with it” person and early in my career I let the angry folks really get to me.  Rolling with the punches doesn’t make me weak or less of a negotiator in fact composure makes me better. I have a philosophy that life happens and your part of it instead of things happening against you.  When you don’t see obstacles as personal it’s easier to deal with them. The buyer’s bank didn’t deny the loan at the last minute to cause the seller major stress on purpose. Things happen and it’s how we respond that is important.  “Don’t give a circumstance power over you” is something I tell myself often when things are going south with a deal.

My job is to be the calm in the midst of a storm. I can’t let their stress and anger affect my decision making and advice.  You would be amazed the kind of anger people get in a transaction.  I can tell when the agent on the other side is letting their client stress them out.  I have counseled crying agents through tough deals.

It took a long time to learn to stay calm and composed. It allows me to be a better negotiator and a better agent with real advice not emotion filled responses that just fuel the fire.  I once had a client remark that I was almost to calm.  I asked them how their experience would have been if I was upset and frantic when they called. They said, “oh, that makes sense.”  Composure is to be remained when with a client. I go to bat for my clients and make sure the other side is aware of what’s going on.  At home where I feel comfortable to let stress out I can get frustrated.  My wife knows when a client is upset or a deal is going bad. She knows the look in my face when I get the “deals dead” phone call. The “we just lost $8,000 in a few seconds” call. There are very few jobs in the world where you can spend 6 months working on a project and not get paid for it. There are also few jobs where you can meet someone and make $8,000 a few weeks later. I had to learn quickly to find ways to manage such stress at home. Just like my client’s stress isn’t my fault, my family shouldn’t get the blame for my work stress.

I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the tops agents in our city and frankly the state. I asked “how do you handle it all?” His response, “exercise, faith, and stress management. You can’t own their problems.”  That was great confirmation for me.  I had a problem early on of owning people’s problems.  People make choices that get them in situations and then because of the stress of the situation they can find fault with the people they hire to help them. This is true of doctors, lawyers, counselors, almost any business.    Trust me I go way above for my clients and offer great solutions to the problems.  A major life lesson is to always remember that how people respond to you or a situation is out of your control.

Learning to not own the problem has actually made me better at helping solve the problem. That’s what professionals do. Imagine a quarterback getting stressed out and frantic when the defense just gave up a touchdown with two minutes left and is now behind by 6.  We expect a champion to go out focused and composed to lead the charge. That’s what our customers expect from us. If you own their stress you can’t be a pro.  You can understand their stress, empathize, but you can not blame yourself for it.

It’s still a struggle daily. Like any muscle in life the staying calm muscle gets stronger with practice. Find a way to learn how to remain calm. My main weapons for handling stress are words. I have a few phrases that keep me calm. I remind myself the situation will often be over in a few days or weeks. I try to work my client through their stress by asking questions that lead them to find an answer to the real cause of stress.

My other weapons are exercise, prayer and chocolate. yes women, it works for men also.  Chocolate tends to beat out the exercise which is a whole other stress.  Ultimately experience and the ability to gather perspective will be your greatest strengths when dealing with stress. The better you can learn to handle stress the better you will be for your clients. Be a pro.


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JOY

Below is an excerpt from an essay I wrote a few years ago. Now my 2 1/2 is 4 1/2 and daughter number two is 2. Just thought this was a good reminder for myself and I hope it helps you as well.

“Hi Daddy, I love you,” says my two and half year old daughter followed by a big hug and a kiss.  Is there a better way to get greeted after a tough day in the real estate world? My daughter doesn’t care if I sold a house today or landed a contract to build a 3,000 square foot custom home.  She doesn’t care if I lost out on a deal that I had been fighting for. All she cares about is that daddy is home. To her I am not a Realtor or custom home builder, I am daddy.  What she needs from me is love and attention, not another closing.  At two and half years she doesn’t know if we live in a new house or an old one. She doesn’t care that my car is seven years old and paid for or if it’s a brand new BMW with a six hundred a month payment. She just knows that I am her daddy.  Somewhere along the way we lose this innocence and begin to define ourselves as what we do and what we have. Children just see who we are.  She can see in my eyes and hear in my words how I am feeling.  She has the ability to know if I’m sad or happy.  When she doesn’t know she simply asks, “Daddy, are you happy?”   I almost always answer, “Yes, sweetie I am very happy.”  There are times when I am not happy and I answer with “Right now sweetie, I am not so happy, but I am still full of joy and nothing can change that.”

Joy is an eternal state of being and happiness is an emotional state of now.  I have surmised that joy comes from a spiritual relationship and inner peace. Joy is something that is constant and not disrupted by the ebb and flow of emotion.  Happiness is a state that is dependent on the feeling of now.  Happiness can come and go in an instant while joy is a choice.  I have joy in my life from my Christian faith. For you it can be religious or a sense of knowing life is bigger than you.  The choice of joy is yours.

I do believe that happiness is important and should be sought after. When you have real joy in your life happiness can be even better. When happiness fades you are not left empty because of your deep internal joy. For me you cannot find ultimate success until you discover joy.  Once you have that you can develop a higher level of success and happiness.

It’s a joyous life,