How to Be an Effective Parent and Scale Your Business At the Same Time

Keeping your business alive while parenting requires strength and a little flexibility

Working from home and running a business while parenting is no small feat. I went from trying to ensure that my children and my business grew efficiently, to trying to ensure that my children and my business survive. I never dreamed I would one day be responsible for managing millions of dollars in cash flow while also teaching third grade math — not just in the same day, but often in the same minute. And yet, here we are.

It’s noteworthy if I manage to have a call without multiple kid eruptions, so us parent entrepreneurs have little choice but to develop tools to ensure that both parenting and running a business are compatible. Needless to say, this is still a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve learned thus far:

Work when you can work.

There is no such thing as nine-to-five (was there ever?). And in this situation, you’re really going to have to figure it out as you go. What worked last week may not work this week. I am now working early mornings, helping kids with school mid-morning, then going back to work in the evening. If there is something I can’t miss mid-morning, guess who gets to watch ABC Mouse? This is uncharted territory for our kids, too. Most kids have little expectation, so try to schedule around what you need, and know that they will be OK.

Don’t be afraid to let some things go.

Perfection is not the name of the game right now. Figure out what can come off your plate, tasks that aren’t the highest priority for either your business or your family. At some level, you know you can’t home-scale and home-school at the same time. So don’t even try.

Teach when you can teach — manage what you can manage.

Try to find help if you can. We have asked enterprise companies if their employees might volunteer with us, we have brought back interns, and we have asked team members to do things out of their job description. At home, I got my dad on Zoom to help teach my kids math (which is not my strength). Even my co-founder and I put our four kids together on Zoom, when we need a minute to work. When it comes down to it, the best you can do is to be flexible, and just do what you can.

Remember that it’s okay to cross back and forth between work and home.

It’s inevitable, and it can be a pleasure, for example, seeing your colleagues’ kids on Zoom and getting to say hello. I have loved seeing their children more often. And seeing our corporate partners confront home-schooling challenges has brought all of us closer together. And I will always be grateful to run in and eat lunch with my babies during the work day.

There is much at stake, and there is no clear roadmap. There will be stress, and if you find you need help, take the time to talk to someone.


The age of cybersecurity is forcing parents to redefine “the talk”

According to data, children are using the internet more than ever before, and the trend shows no signs of slowing.

Research shows that three in five children now use the internet at home. That’s 60% compared to 11% in 1997. And it’s estimated that kids ages 8 to 18 spend about 45 hours a week in front of screens.

With internet use built into virtually every stage of childhood, parents face the responsibility of teaching their kids about internet safety at an earlier and earlier age.

There are a vast number of subjects parents have to help their children navigate as they get older. Among these is proactively educating children about internet safety and how to protect oneself online every day.

For a generation reared online, so to speak, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint an age when children are not engaging with the internet. Since the internet is everywhere, and since the way we use it is constantly changing shape, platforms, and algorithms, it’s important to recognize that personal cybersecurity isn’t a topic to cover some day “when they’re ready.”

Members of Generation Z are digital natives because they’ve used the internet and mobile devices practically from infancy. And if parents instill the right habits early, they can be cybersecurity natives, too.

So, how should we approach the topic of cybersecurity with our kids?

1. The magic password

First up, parents: choosing unique passwords for each account is a must, and kids today need to understand that using one single “master password” for all accounts is unsafe. If this password gets compromised by a data breach, any other accounts linked to that same password are now at risk since hackers have the credentials. By the time we realize our data is leaked, it’s usually already too late to prevent the impending damage—such as stolen identities or hacked email accounts. With all the data breaches making headlines these days, you need to do everything you can to keep your children’s accounts secure. Ensure they use a strong, unique password for each account to help protect data from hackers.

We hear it all the time, but that’s because it’s the best advice: passwords should be complex, contain 12 or more characters, and use a combination of letters and numbers. Additionally, it’s never a good idea to use names, birthdates, or other personal information in a password.

Of course, it can be challenging to remember individual passwords across numerous online accounts. So, you might opt to use a password management tool—such as Dashlane or the ironically-named 1Password, both of which encrypt and store multiple passwords to help keep track of your credentials. These tools are fairly kid-friendly too, to make it easier to get your kids in the habit of using them early on.

2. Privacy, please

The unfortunate reality is that every piece of information you share online has the potential to be sold, misused, and/or leaked. The number of security breaches continue to rise. There were 3,800 data breaches counted in just the first half of 2019. That’s 54% more data breaches in the same period last year.

Kids need to be cautious about how much personal information they share online, whether it’s through Instagram, TikTok, Roblox, or whatever platform is en vogue.

Personal information can easily find its way into the wrong hands. Think about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, when the data of millions of Facebook users was shared without their consent. Additionally, TikTok, a current Gen-Z social media favorite, is under fire for potentially sending user data to China.

3. Secure Wi-Fi networks and VPN

Most places offer Wi-Fi access to customers—from malls to gyms to public transportation—which means it’s easy stay connected at all times with a public Wi-Fi network. The problem is these public networks are unsecured, which makes them vulnerable to cybercriminals and hackers.

Bad actors tend to lurk on unsecured Wi-Fi connections to launch man-in-the-middle attacks and intercept any information you enter into a form. For example, if you book a rideshare and enter new payment details from an unsecured coffee-shop connection, a hacker can easily scoop up that information since your connection is not encrypted.

Bottom line: Unsecured Wi-Fi networks are dangerous, and they aren’t worth the benefit of free internet access.

To mitigate this risk, you can use a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing an unsecured Wi-Fi network. VPNs establish a secure internet connection and encrypt your data, which protects your personal information from third parties. As a best practice, always use a VPN service to secure your family’s devices, and make sure to teach your kids when and how to use it so they can stay safe no matter where they are.

4. Email responsibly

In order to set up any kind of digital account today—from music streaming to social networking to gaming apps—an email account is required. The majority of today’s digital generation often don’t request parental guidance when setting up these email accounts; they are savvy enough to set them up on their own.

Yet even the act of creating a seemingly harmless email account can have some potential security threats.

To get ahead of these risks, it’s a wise move to show your kids how your email works to help teach them the basics.

If you have an email account, it means you also need to be aware of the dangers of phishing emails and the consequences of falling for them. Phishing scams involve emails that might look harmless, but are actually designed to steal your sensitive information. They often do this by encouraging the recipient to click on a malicious link or attachment.

It’s possible for anyone—even kids—to spot a phishing email if they know the warning signs. These signs include grammatical errors, URLs or links that direct you to the wrong website or emails from vendors requesting credit card information. Make sure your kids understand that they should delete these suspicious emails immediately.

To teach your kids about phishing scams, you might also consider using a service like Interland—a digital safety game created by Google designed specifically to keep young people engaged while they learn best practices.

The internet is now a core part of childhood, and it can impact our kids in unpredictable ways. As parents, it’s up to us to teach our kids how to navigate the online world safely, and ensure they have the information they need to proactively protect themselves and their information.