If there is anyone who knows the challenges of being an entrepreneur, partner and a mother, it’s Renee Warren.
About seven years ago, she was launching her PR and content agency business, Onboardly. Her husband, Dan Martell, was launching a new business after his previous one got acquired. They moved from California to Moncton, and oh, she had her first child, Max.
To says their lives were a little crazy is an understatement. Not only were they dealing with the challenges of being new parents, they were also dealing with the stressors of starting two companies from scratch.
“At the time, it was pure and utter chaos. We couldn’t figure it out. Essentially the whole parenting thing is this whole anomaly,” says Warren. “Trying to figure out parenting, trying to figure out growing our businesses and hiring people … on top of the hormones of being pregnant and having a newborn and moving, it’s like, ‘how did we survive this?'”
Like most new parents, they didn’t have much outside help. So Warren and Martell decided to try to face their challenges the one way they knew how – by thinking like business people.
“We didn’t have a nanny. We did it all and ran these businesses and the most important thing for us was a happy family life,” she says. “We started creating these systems and these procedures and these rules. Apply business philosophies to our family life, and that’s what got us through those dark days of launching businesses and parenting.”
Successfully navigating these experiences have led Warren to start her new business, The Family Academy. It aims to help entrepreneurial families better manage relationships with their partners, kids and themselves. Warren launched the business this past month with a personal coaching service called the Freedom Family Mastery program.
I work with entrepreneurs couples who understand that they need to gain more freedom in their lives. What I teach them are ways to connect with themselves, with their partners and with kids on a deeper level,” says Warren.
“One of the biggest regrets I hear all the time from entrepreneurs and entrepreneur couples is, ‘I don’t spend enough time with my kids and it’s really hard for me to be present with them.’ There are ways of managing that, but it all comes down to working on yourself and figuring out your triggers. That’s what I work with couples on in this Freedom Family Mastery program.”
But that’s just the start of it, says Warren. The plan is to make The Family Academy a membership-based community where people can also access useful content and support.
“The long-term vision is an incredible community of entrepreneur families that are looking to gain that deeper connection with themselves, their partners and their kids. It’s going to be a membership site and it’s going to be quarterly retreats and annual summits,” says Warren. “A community that you aspire to belong to because it is a very highly vetted community of people that can provide value back to the people who are part of the community.”
Warren sees the struggle of entrepreneurs managing both their professional and family lives as a North American-wide challenge, especially among the younger set.
I do see it, especially with the younger people, pre-children or just having their first child. It’s hard for them to really ascertain what it’s like to be fully committed to your business, then all of a sudden there’s a little baby that’s acquires 24/7 attention,” she says.
“It’s tough because when you think about these women, and dads in a way, who have postpartum depression, it’s because it’s the biggest life change you could ever imagine.”
Yet the challenges don’t end with adjusting to parenthood either. Children of not, being an entrepreneur has continuous ups and downs and tough decisions to make. Warren experienced this first-hand last year when she shut down her agency, Onboardly, due to the fact her heart just wasn’t in it anymore.
“For me, because I’m a very authentic person, to sell something that I didn’t believe in was really hard for me,” says Warren.
Though closing shop was ultimately the right decision, she says it was one of the hardest things she ever had to do in her career, since it meant letting her team of six go.
“The big thing at the end of it was how I felt like such a cheat and lied to people that were working for me because there was nothing left in my fuel tank to grow the business, which was completely unfair,” she says. “I looked at these people who are super talented, who I loved and respected, and in my mind I was like, ‘I’m not doing anything to help support your career.’ The same would go for the clients that we had. I’m not doing anything to further this project or program for them and I knew I needed to check out.”
Having been through all the tough points of being a parent, partner, and entrepreneur, Warren is passionate about using her knowledge and experience to help others.
“When you’re so passionate about running and growing your business, that’s your first baby. Then this real baby comes along, it’s hard. You feel guilty. You feel anxious. You’re overwhelmed. You can’t sleep. You can’t eat or if you are eating, it’s really shitty food. You’re not exercising. You hate yourself. You hate your body. You hate everyone around you,” she says.
“I’ve been through all of it and if had what I’m building back then, it would have saved me so many agonizing moments and sleepless nights. I know that.”