How Having a Baby Can Change Southeast Asian Entrepreneurs

Can first-time fathers deal with the pressure of running a business and being a hands-on dad?

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BY Adelle Chua - 21 Mar 2017

having a baby

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Entrepreneurs often refer to their ventures as their “baby.” They get an idea in their head, they evaluate whether it is feasible, and they establish the business. In the beginning when they do not yet have a full staff, start-up founders do everything themselves: software development, business development, sales and marketing – but also the administrative and sometimes even the housekeeping.

When the business is finally up and running, the entrepreneur’s worries do not follow the 9-5 schedule. Their thoughts and worries are on the business all the time.

But what if a new baby, a real one, comes into the picture?

It’s probably different when one is already a father, with an established routine and clear-cut delineation of tasks with a wife or partner, before one embarks into a business. Then, one can predict the hours in which it is reasonable to work, and set expectations so that there are no major disruptions.

But when the baby comes after the business, after patterns have been established, taking on the entirely new responsibility of fatherhood may be a major adjustment.

How can first-time fathers deal with the pressure of running a business and being a hands-on dad?


1. Know who are part of your team

It’s never a solitary journey. For Donny Soh, the Singapore-based founder of 9 Degrees Freedom – which produces a sensor for tennis players and the app that goes with it – he is fortunate to have a supportive wife, supportive family, and supportive in-laws.

His son Matthias was just born a few weeks ago.

“I like to think fatherhood somehow is making me a better person. I am growing to appreciate my parents more. The same way I cared for my child, I imagine would be the way my dad and mum cared for me when I was young.”


2. Don’t strive for perfection

“There are many things I am unsure of,” Soh says. “I am still making tons of mistakes. We are still not out of the woods and we are dealing with challenges every day. The added responsibility of being a father takes a toll on me. But we will persist!”


3. Work around the family schedule

David Lowbride of Two Feet Marketing tells Entrepreneur Magazine that founders can always do administrative work in the early hours or late at night. “Be flexible with your working hours and make them work around your family rather than the other way around,” he says.

“Work when alone, play when together,” advises Patrumin Investors’ Sam Dedio in the same Entrepreneur article. “Entrepreneurs must be willing to work in the time that kids are unavailable.”


4. Remember: It’s an adventure, not a burden

“Building a business is hard; parenting can be even harder. Doing both at the same time sounds impossible. Great parenting starts with letting your child stand on your shoulders so you inspire him to follow his dreams and build something great,” says Stephan Aarstol in an article for The Good Men Project.


5. Never lose sight of the important things

“What good is it to be successful in life and have no one to share it with?” says Soh. He shares that he went overseas a few weeks ago, and it was the first time he yearned for home in the past 20 years of his adult life.