The best decision I ever made was marrying my wife. The second best decision was becoming a dad. The third best decision was hacking my way to living the small business and life of my dreams. This article is about hacking the stay-at-home dad and small business of your dreams. You’re on your own for the wife part.
This is about being a son, a father, and small business owner. This lifestyle is not for the weak-of-heart. In order to pull this off, you’ve got to be on your A-game, and get a lot of help from others.
My sons have been among my greatest teachers, and today, we get to be the best of friends. Every day I ask myself, “How does it get any better than this?”
Today, I get to live the life of my dreams, even though it wasn’t always this way. It’s not easy to be a father, and it’s not easy to hack building a small business. It’s harder to pull off both at once.
In fact, the latter can and will often get in the way of the former, which can be tragic for a family. With the help of my wife, I was able to do both. Let me make it perfectly clear that had my wife not helped me financially and emotionally to build my small businesses, I would definitely have been living in a box down by a river, or worse.
I’ll never forget the feeling of missing my dad when I was a kid. Up until the time I was six, my father worked in corporate sales. As a result, he had to travel often, and sometimes overseas. The good news is, dad always returned home with a cool gift; toy soldiers from London, for example. That same birthday, I sat on the front steps of our family home in Waban, Massachusetts. It was about to get dark when my mom poked her head out the front door and said, “Clifford, it’s getting dark outside. Dinner is almost ready. Please come into the house and get ready for dinner.”
“I’m waiting for dad,” and pleaded my case to wait until he drove into the driveway so I could be the first to run up to him and get a hug.
I love my dad profusely, and if you’ve ever missed your father like I have, you know how it feels. Dad passed away almost four years ago as, just after Father’s Day, 2014.
I was pretty sure from a young age that it would be my destiny to be much like my father; an entrepreneur, and a great dad. I always wanted to be like dad, so I made believe a lot as a kid, and I dreamed of being an entrepreneur. I made it, and I thank both my mom and dad. I also became a pretty good dad over the years. The only proof of this lies with the son(s). Don’t take my word for it.
It was 1970 that my dad convinced mom to let him buy into a hotel and restaurant partnership so he could become the general manager, and move us to New Hampshire, so he could be home with the family every night. It was my dad’s dream to be in business for himself. My father told me many years ago that his primary motivation for being in business was being able to be home almost every night. My dad pulled this off, even though he was not a stay-at-home dad. To me, it was the next best thing!
I am a lot like my dad. After his memorial service, someone came up to me and said, “Clifford, you did a great job memorializing your father. When you first started talking, I thought it was your father’s voice, and I turned my head to see you, and I thought, “This man is his father’s son.”
It was later in my life, when our boys were in middle school, that I became a true, stay-at-home dad. I was at home with my sons virtually every night through their formative years, after I left the hotel business and began working for myself.
Full disclosure: I was never a stay-at-home dad when our boys were babies. My amazing wife drove that bus, and she did a spectacular job.
One of most-epic family stories goes like this. One of my son’s friends asked him, “What does your dad do for work, and how come he’s home all the time?” (This is leading up to the age when kids love it when their parents aren’t home after school. How do I know? I remember being a kid, and how badly we messed around the house on “snow days” or any other when mom nor dad were home to patrol their turf.)
My son replied, “I don’t know. I think he’s a stay-at-home dad.”
At the time, I worked as a financial planner and investment adviser. Then I started a sales coaching business, and that morphed into marketing automation, content marketing, and conversion marketing consulting. I have had to find my own customers since 1991, when I first started working free of a real boss. I became the boss because I wanted to be with my kids.
Okay, here are my suggestions to pull this off if you truly believe you’re ready. If not, keep dreaming out of the box. This is where it all starts, after the obvious, first step.
In closing, I’m typing this article on a Sunday morning. It is Mother’s Day, and today is the also the day we get to celebrate our oldest son’s 30th birthday. I am sitting in my office, and I still feel like a stay-at-home dad. But the kids are long gone, and my wife I get to see them often because they live close to us in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Looking back, I’m eternally grateful to my wife, sons, family and friends who helped me become the father and small business man I am today. There is no way I could have pulled of being a stay-at-home dad while building the small business and life of my dreams without the help of many people.
The truth is, I’m blessed to have somehow pulled this off. How does it get any better than this?