A balancing act. An entrepreneur, a start-up and a new baby
As avid readers of the fivesquid blog you'll all know that September is the month when most people celebrate their birthday which means in the coming weeks many of the fivesquid community will be starting a new family or perhaps adding to the clan - either way congrats! This got the team turning their attention to our founder Terry who became a first time father September last year. We marvel at his ability to juggle it all and we wanted to know exactly how he combines being a hands on dad, whilst still having his finger on the fivesquid pluse. Who better to hear it from, than the man himself? Over to you Terry...
We had been thinking about starting a family for a while, but fivesquid was my baby and all encompassing, I wasn’t ready. With the tick-tocking of my others half’s biological clock keeping her awake at night, we decided it was time to start our family and, in the back of my mind, I knew it might take us a while to get pregnant. We used ovulation app M-Calendar and within months we were pregnant. It was a shock, and much like when I started fivesquid, we were jumping right in; nine months later, we were celebrating the arrival of the most perfect daughter, Renée, who changed my life forever.
First, let me explain what life was like pre-fatherhood. Life was my business, my start-up fivesquid. I put everything into it, not just my savings but every ounce of my time and energy - it consumed everything and at the end of the day I didn’t have much time or energy for anything or anyone else. I felt great responsibility as the founder of a start-up – investors, employees, keeping things going during the early investment rounds. I knew things would change but I didn’t fully understand to what extent.
Being a new parent is tough; it’s an unknown and I found myself jumping into the fire again headfirst. It was important to me that I was a hands-on father, nappies and all. I was propelled out of my comfort zone of the gig economy and into a world of midwives, nappies, sterilisers and the most delicious smell of baby talc. It was utterly terrifying, exciting and humbling all at once.
Coming from a large Greek family, we were initially overwhelmed by visitors and advice on how we should be doing things - the visitors were harder work than looking after Renée! Thankfully the visits and advice soon abated and we were eventually able to develop our own style and routines.
As the founder and owner of fivesquid, I am fortunate enough to be able to work from anywhere, and I find myself spending more and more time working from home. Flexible working hours are not something you’d imagine to be high up on an entrepreneur’s list, but it works for me. I work silly hours, but working silly hours from home means that I don’t miss out. I’ve been there for most of it – first smiles, teething, first crawl - and I’m hoping Dad is going to be her first word! I know I’m on borrowed time being able to work in this way. As she gets older she will demand more of my time and I need to find the balance of being able to enjoy quality time, no mobile and computer, just father and daughter time and work– I think that is going to be a little more challenging.
In reality, I can’t get away from meetings, but I can make sure they suit my timings. Having built a strong team, I’m in the fortunate position that fivesquid is in good hands. Whilst every entrepreneur is a control freak, deep down I know that the team are as dedicated to the business as I am and I don’t really need to be there 24/7.
Time is now incredibly precious so I’m conscious of managing my time effectively so that the focus remains on the business, whilst still allowing me to enjoy quality time with my family. Time passes so quickly and I don’t want to miss out. I now have a new perspective; little things that I thought were important really don’t need to consume me.
Fatherhood brings with it a whole new level of pressure. I’m naturally driven and want my business to keep growing. I thrive on the pressure that brings, but having a new little being looking at me with those deep brown eyes - that’s a whole different ball game. I’m doubly driven now not only to provide and protect my family financially by keeping the business at the very top, but I also want my little girl to be proud of her Dad.
Whilst fivesquid had consumed my life previously, I can honestly say I didn’t know what being consumed really meant; I certainly have a new purpose. I didn’t know love until I became a father. There probably isn’t ever a right time to have a baby, but if a family is what you want - don’t procrastinate, it’s not in your entrepreneurial nature, just make it work for you.
Terry Koutsios: fivesquid founder