Finding work-life balance as a parent entrepreneur

These inspiring parents are growing successful businesses while raising families. They share their tips for finding a work-life balance while going out on your own.

Clancy Paine, a photographer and mother running her own business, pictured with her four children
  • More and more parents in Australia are starting their own businesses: with childcare costs soaring above inflation and wage rates, some see a side hustle as supplementary income, while others seek a career change.
  • These entrepreneurs share their keys to success, including: adaptability, being present in the moment, knowing when to take the right opportunities, and establishing work-life boundaries.
Billy Green, founder of Make-Out Meals

A father and former marketer who launched a multi-million dollar meal kit business 

Father-of-one Billy Green left a career in marketing to chase a dream. Make-Out Meals – meal kits with recipes and ingredients by Australia’s favourite restaurants – was founded in 2020 after Melbourne’s first lockdown. It’s now a multi-million-dollar business. 

"When I launched Make-Out Meals, I wasn’t feeling enthused at all by my job. I was working in a large corporate environment as a marketing manager and was able to take advantage of remote working.

For six months I spent my afternoons and nights working on the business concept: cooking your favourite restaurant dishes at home. We took the time to develop the business properly. Some of the restaurants were excited by the idea – many said no, too. Our first major investment was developing branding so when we pulled the trigger on that I knew I was in for the long haul.

I grew up in a traditional family and the idea of not having a stable, corporate job was foreign. It took me a long time to break out of that mould and challenge myself to try something new.

As an entrepreneur you’re working around the clock whether you have kids or not. The added flexibility of being my own boss helps – I’m able to juggle life in a way that works for me. Being a dad has made me more flexible and open. Whether it’s illness or a broken arm, things change quickly. Routines get affected and plans need to adapt."

Billy’s tips for maintaining the right perspective

  • Think ahead: When you feel like the way you’re juggling being a parent with work is too hectic, remind yourself that your kids are seeing you follow your dreams – and hopefully they will do the same thing.
  • Redefine what success looks like: It’s hard to shake that voice you were raised with, saying a stable job is the only way. But when you start your own business you need to believe there’s a different kind of success out there.
Dinzi Amobi, founder of African textile brand Ulo

An African textile entrepreneur raising twins

Dinzi Amobi lives in Melbourne with her five-year-old twin daughters. She swapped a legal career for running a vibrant lifestyle brand Ulo, inspired by her African heritage.

“Ulo is your typical ‘kitchen-table’ business story. I was hosting a dinner party for friends in Sydney shortly after moving from London. I wanted to share what Nigerians call a real ‘naija’ style experience, which is a combination of good food, joyous music, vibrant décor and lots of laughter. When my guests arrived their faces lit up – they encouraged me to bottle up the evening and turn it into a business. From there came my first collection, Ulo Living, which was a collection of vibrant placemats and napkins – design replicas from the dinner party.

I started working on the product during the evenings while I worked in a corporate governance role in the city. I would attend free business workshops to build up my knowledge and use weekends to display and sell my designs at markets and events.

I decided to step away from my legal career, not for Ulo but to have a moment to pause and reflect on what my next steps would be. I knew Ulo had legs but I was still testing my designs and product ideas. A few months after making the leap, I discovered I was pregnant with twins. A few days after that, I gave myself a good talking to and said it’s now or never and I launched the website. The rest is history.

Like Ulo, my twins have just turned five years old. My children have been an incredible driving force. They push me – and Ulo – through challenging times, late nights, utter exhaustion and moments of doubt and fear. The girls make Ulo and I thrive – their positive outlook on life, their fresh eyes and their ability to push me to be the best parent I can be at any given time is an undeniable driving force.”

Dinzi’s tips for making the transition to entrepreneurship

  • Read the room: Seeing the joy that my designs bought a room full of friends inspired me. Listen to how people respond to what you’re putting into the world.
  • Take a beat: Sometimes you need to step away from your current role to figure out what comes next.

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The full version of this article was originally published in Brighter magazine.

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