This is our third, and final, installment in the “Baby Aggro” series. In the first article, I talked a lot about my experience as a stay-at-home dad and entrepreneur and how children are difficult. In the second article, I went over my experience with my own customers and how they’re awesome! In this post, I’m going to go into more detail on why kids are not an excuse to be unprofessional. I’ll finish the series with how I balance it.
Timelines Still Matter
My children getting sick is not an excuse to miss my deadlines. I mean, unless he’s really sick… right? Let me rephrase that. Me deciding that I’d rather go to the park today with the kids is not an excuse to miss my deadlines. That’s better.
What’s A Timeline?
To me, timelines are more than just getting stuff done on time. When I tell a customer I expect their website development phase to take about 2 weeks, I am giving them my word that as long as our scope is not broken, and as long as they are providing the necessary content, we will have that site completed in two weeks. Missing that deadline would be equivalent to me breaking their trust.
At Zealous Sites, our average timeline is currently two weeks for the design phase and two weeks for the development phase. The discovery phase varies based on the complexity and needs of the client and the deploy phase (when we launch the website) is nearly always as soon as we get that final deposit.
Integrity Matters Even More
When running a business or working for someone running their business integrity is so important. But when you’re being watched by those little eyes of a child, it’s so much more important. They see and hear everything… creepy little buggers…
Honesty and integrity are not the same things, but they do go hand-in-hand.
At Zealous Sites, I aim to be honest and fair with every decision I make. So when I suggest something for a marketing goal, those suggestions come from an honest opinion of what I think will work for them.
Likewise, if they’re doing something I don’t agree with, I’m quick to hear why they chose that route. And, if I still don’t agree, I’m just as quick to explain why I think it’s the wrong solution.
My customers have come to expect this honesty, even if sometimes my honesty is a little stronger than my tactfulness.
Expectations and Managing Them Are Crucial
Another huge lesson I learned early in running a business is to never make a promise I can’t keep. That’s been a pretty basic mantra for every dad ever, right? It’s corny but accurate. I try to live by this with my kids as well as my business.
Specifically for Zealous SItes. I also don’t say something will be done if it won’t be. And I don’t say I can do something if I can’t.
In the world of web development, there are many niches. My niches are WordPress and HubSpot theme development. Marketing strategy and SEO are not my forte, but I do know more about each than the average person. However, if a customer is specifically looking for marketing advice beyond what I’m comfortable giving, or they specifically need an SEO specialist, I have colleagues and peers who I utilize for those things. This process often begins with “those are great questions and I completely agree that you would benefit from that. However, I’m not personally qualified to help. I do have a couple of people that I know are qualified. Let me get you in touch.”
Communication Is Key!
Another seemingly obvious point is the importance of communication. In my time in the business, I have seen varying degrees of project management styles. Some I love! Some I don’t. The styles that seem to be most impactful and successful are the ones that focus on communicating well.
Whenever I’m working on a project, I often find myself apologizing for the long emails, but I’m not about to change my communication style. I would rather over-communicate and give a customer all the information so that they’re well-informed and able to make the best decision for their circumstances. My job is not to sell anything. My job is to help my customers reach their goals.
Don’t Be A Jerk
Another pretty obvious one here is to be nice. Just don’t be a jerk to your customers, peers, or your kids. I know for me, not being a jerk to my customers or peers is pretty easy. At least I hope that’s how others perceive me in a professional setting. But when it comes to not being a jerk to my 3 year old, it’s much more difficult.
Correcting and teaching my eldest without being hurtful is a hard balance. It’s something that I’m trying to figure out myself and I think we’re getting there!
Striking That Balance
So tying it all together. Running your own business is super difficult and being a dad is just as difficult if not more. Doing both at the same time is like doing them both on hard mode. It’s a constant balancing act or juggling of different responsibilities. I don’t get it right every time, but I strive to get it right more often than not, and I think I succeed at that.
So how do I personally get work done with the kids being kids? Well, I’m flexible on my technical “working hours.” I usually only work from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but if there are tight deadlines, I’ve absolutely worked late into the night after the kids went to bed or early mornings when they’re still asleep.
I’m careful to time my work. If I find a project took longer than estimated, I have to ask myself two things. First, did that project take longer because of my kids? If yes, then that’s not billable time. Ever. The second, did that project take longer because we broke scope? If no, then that’s still not billable time.
But Be Consistent
And finally, the semi-paradoxical conclusion to the previous point: consistency!
Being consistent with my children is difficult. It’s tough to continue to discipline a child for the same thing over and over, but it’s necessary. Consistently providing quality and customer service to my customers hasn’t been a challenge. This is mostly because my customers are the best.
What is challenging is consistently being a customer’s go-to guy, but not forgetting the basics – like feeding myself lunch, which my extremely hard working wife does after she comes home from an 8-hour overnight shift. (My extremely hard-working wife added that line). It’s that juggling act I talked about earlier. Sometimes, I can get it right. But sometimes, I drop the ball and forget to shower.
Just Keep On Keeping On
Even on the bad days, we just keep trucking along. Like I’ve said before, I’m not an expert parent. And some days, I don’t even know if I’m a good one, but most days I think I do alright. But I know I’m always a good web developer. If you or someone you know needs a new website or wants to talk about some marketing goals, I’d love to have that conversation! Reach out to me via my website here and we’ll get started making 2020 a better year for both of us! :)
So what do you think? Did I miss anything? Did I gloss over something that you think I should have spent more time on? Let me know in the comments below! If this series gets some traction, maybe I’ll do a follow-up down the road when I’m a little better at it! :)