It’s no secret many women have abandoned the corporate world in favour of starting their own business. The ability to contribute to the household income while having the flexibility needed to be there for their kids makes it a very logical choice. But we don’t hear a lot about the men who are doing the same.
Which is why today I’m honoured to share the stories of some of the dads in our community who’ve gone the solo route. If you’re a father who’s wondering whether it’s time to take the plunge, this may help you make up your mind.
The first thing I asked the guys was whether there was a specific trigger for making the move … or whether it was the result of a slow burn.
For Patrick it was quite simple: “the opportunity came along for me to try something different and be my own boss so I took it.”
Dave said “It was a year or two coming (I think the seed was initially planted a couple of years before when I read The 4 Hour Work Week). The final trigger came when my son Lewis was born. I was working long hours and was away from home a lot (in the mining industry). Work-life balance was already tough for me, let alone family life. I took time off indefinitely, and never went back.”
It was also a bit of a slow burn for Chris. “I think for my personality (and creative role) the corporate world can get tired, especially where I was. It’s also a very political and competitive world, and ultimately, the only real reward of the position I had was financial. After eight years in London, my partner and I decided to come home for family and personal reasons. We set up my business, worked hard, got married and our daughter arrived in 2010.”
It was quite a different story for Daryl! “Around five years ago I sat my boss down and suggested that we gradually decrease my hours, as the business couldn’t afford to have two managers (him and me). I loved the job, but it just wasn’t the best use of his money at the time.”
For Osmond, there were many factors involved but in the end, 12 hour days mixed with a three hour commute and the onset of depression for his wife sealed the deal.
Did the change from the corporate to the solo life make things better on the family front?
Osmond: Everything is better. That is all.
Daryl: It’s the best decision I ever made. Sure, I work just as many hours as I ever have, but I work them in a way that allows me to be a very present and hands-on dad.
Patrick: I was able to be there for my kids at school events, after school swimming carnivals and all those fun things working for a boss doesn’t allow you to do. My wife worked part-time then full-time so it was important for one of us to be flexible.
Chris admits: It’s been super stressful at times and occasionally very chaotic, but being able to experience more of my daughter in the early years is something I wouldn’t change for the world.
So do they miss anything about the corporate world?
Dave and Osmond categorically say “no”.
Chris says he misses “the stability of knowing you will get paid every fortnight and that you don’t have to chase it.” He concedes that “solo business is a lot of jobs crammed into one, so in that sense, life would definitely be ‘easier’ back in corporate, but the trade-off of that is too large. The flexibility of solo life is hard to beat.”
Patrick is adamant that he would not have found the same satisfaction being your own boss offers had he still been working for someone else.
Any advice to offer those considering making the leap?
Patrick: “Do it. Don’t hesitate.”
Dave: “Although you might be making the switch for lifestyle reasons I believe you need to focus squarely on the ‘money issue’ from day one. While money isn’t everything, it IS the fuel for your new dream. If your new path is threatened by financial pressure, and possibly wavering support from your spouse, bringing in a bunch of cash will melt these issues, make your new life sustainable and it will also be a source of happiness rather than stress.”
Osmond: “Sometimes the switch will simply present itself (rather than requiring you to make a big jump.) You need to keep your eyes peeled and grab it when it sticks its head out. Mine came from one of the darkest places my wife and i had been. But, in the end, all the stress and hard work paid off for us.
Chris: “Be organised. Be clear on all of your objectives. Develop a structured day that allows a little wiggle room, but be ready for chaos and children to not always understand the need for work to be done. Get help where you can find it and just soak up the amazing experience of watching little ones grow. (You will sleep again in about 30 years apparently.)”
So how to wrap up this post? I think I’ll leave it in Dave’s capable hands. When summing up the ultimate benefits of his solo life Dave states:
“I’m happier, and what I like about business is you learn a lot about who you are and what you want out of life, because you seem to have to make life decisions far more often.”
Are you a dad who’s made the jump from the corporate life to soloism?
We’d love to hear your story in the comments!