Startup Family: How To Find Balance When Building a Company

Startup Family: How To Find Balance When Building a Company

4 years ago I was living in San Francisco when my fiancee came home and told me she was pregnant.

This happened to be the same week I started my new startup Clarity.

A few months later she decided to partner with a friend and start a new marketing agency Onboardly.

On top of that, we figured we wanted to be closer to family so we started work on a small summer home near our family back home in Canada.

In the middle of all this I raised $1.6M in funding to scale my new startup.

The following 9 months were hectic… but on August 17th, we had a beautiful little boy named Max (or as I like to call him: Mighty Max).

2 months later Renee got pregnant again!

That’s when we decided to build our dream home on a beautiful piece of land we had bought.

Exactly 8 months later we came back from the hospital with our 2nd boy Noah to move into our new home.

(Side note: I’m blessed to have a brother who is one of Canada’s top home builders or this would’ve definitely ended up badly.)

So essentially, in a 2 year period we started 2 companies, built 2 houses and had 2 kids.

To say that those 2 years were crazy would be a HUGE understatement.

The challenge for me is I wanted to be a great entrepreneur AND a great father.

It was definitely during this period that I grew the most as a person.

I studied books on parenting, spent time talking with experts on all aspects of “balance” and started to create a framework to manage it all.

In this video I cover the 5 areas that really provided the most value to achieving this:

Here they are …

1) Boundaries: Understanding when you work and when you play
2) Be Present: Your Kids Want To Play
3) The Two Roles: CEO of Family Inc. & Relationship Inc
4) Block Time: Don’t Prioritize Your Schedule, Schedule Your Priorities
5) Your Why: Don’t Sacrifice Family For Business

Exclusive Bonus: Download a list of my Top 5 productivity hacks (for free!). These are the top “hacks” that help me focus on family AND business.

If you’d like a woman’s point of view, I’d love to have Renee tell you about this in her own words. Check out this video we did together a while back.

If you have any other tips or tricks, be sure to leave a comment with your feedback… I would love to hear from you. I can always improve my game.
Have an amazing day!

  • kevindewalt

    Man, that’s crazy! We don’t have kids but I’m going through the house/launch company phase myself right now.

    A few other tips … learned the hard way:

    –Put your spouse’s career first. It can get really easy to get obsessed with what we’re doing and forget that our partner feels the same way.
    –Get enough sleep, don’t sacrifice exercise.
    –Buying or building a house isn’t like building a tech company – there are a lot of “URGENT” deadlines imposed by others … that are not really that urgent. Real estate agents, contractors … work for us. They may scream for a document to be signed by Monday … but Friday is probably fine.

  • Kelly Lawson


    I really needed this post.

    There is so much talk about managing financial runway, and precious little talk about managing the most important commodity: QT runway.

    I once read: “You have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce.” Every single person only has 24 hours a day/7 days of the week, including the most successful people, such as you and Renee. You both inspire me everyday.

    Thank you for this guidance!

    • Dan Martell

      @kellylawson:disqus totally agree.

      Everyone is always talking about Hustling… but for what? For who?

      At the end of the day… once you get to the mountain top, if you sacrificed it all for that.. you’ll fee so lonely.

      Now, does it mean cutting out TV? Probably. What about sitting around and doing nothing? Yep, that goes to.

      If you want it all, it means you need to grow as a person and push yourselves to new levels of personal accountability.

      It’s not for everyone, but it’s possible.

      Love the Beyonce quote… she’s a baller.


  • Tuli Cipriota

    Thanks for sharing, Dan!
    I left my 2-years-old daughter with her father in Argentina for 4 months for the 500startups acceleration program in MV last winter…that was REALLY hard for me, I preferred to leave her with her family, friends and routines at home and she was really fine. I didn’t want her to feel this backpack of regrets feelings, sometimes we need to sacrifice our family, that’s a fact…

    Now we are closing the seed round with Verizon ventures and I’m moving from Buenos Aires to San Mateo with my husband and my daughter in 2 weeks! Pursuing our dreams push us out of the comfort zone and I want my kid to understand that….at the worths it ;D

    • Dan Martell

      @tulicipriota:disqus super inspired by your story!

      I couldn’t imagine being away from my 2 boys for 4 months.. but I would hope to make a similar sacrifice to create the life I envisioned for them + honour my own passion in life.

      Mothers have it so much harder … it’s biological. I see it with my wife.

      Truly appreciate you sharing… such a great story!


      • Tuli Cipriota

        Thank you!

  • Vladimir Prelovac

    Great and unexpected one Dan!

    Structure whichever way it is set is the key. Like the two rules game, I also recommend reading 5 languages of love which can help deal with undesrtanding your partner and one day kids.

    • Dan Martell



      Yep, read the 5 love languages and know my wives … boys too young to know just yet 🙂

      Also use this on my team which may sound funny but being appreciated is what drives us a humans and is helpful when managing a large team.

      Thanks for the comment!


  • jeffio

    Great one, Dan! So happy to hear you talk about family & startups because not enough of us do. I remember your guys’ excitement just before baby #1 came around 🙂

    The majority of founders have kids and/or spouses, it’s just that nobody talks about it. The business/startup hustle is often so glamorized that those of us with families and kids wonder how everybody does it. We need more people like you sharing their story of how they make it work.

    4-day retreats are awesome, we’ve only done 1 of those though and you’ve inspired me to plan more of those. We find other ways daily though as we both share the Relationship CEO role. I love the “ground time” terminology, I’ll have to use that. We do a lot of “minecraft time” around here now that our kids are getting older 😀

    • Dan Martell


      Glad we could inspire you to look a new ways to enhance the family / founder experience 🙂

      It’s a journey but one I’m loving so far!


  • Tiffany Gallivan

    Very cool perspective. It can be so much more complicated from a women’s perspective.

    My story is that at 24 I built my first pilot restaurant with a 1 year old and pregnant. Managed a home while my husband traveled for his business. We were living in the remote Northwest Territories without the luxury of family or many friends. I eventually had my baby and was back into the grind 3 weeks later. Breastfeeding between and during meetings. My newborn attend all my board meetings and earned his ‘business baby’ title. The word hustle falls short on describing the grueling effort it took to get through all of it.

    4 years later though, the hustle is paying off and I look back on that and study the efforts on how to succesfully balance the super powers of being a business mom. Thanks for the video! 🙂

    • Dan Martell

      @tiffanygallivan:disqus totally agree that women have a way different challenge … very much biologically driven. I watch my wife go through these challenges and honour her journey for finding a way to make it work.

      Truly appreciate your feedback / story / comment.

      Thank you!


  • Vera Milan Gervais

    Totally relate to this Dan! We had a baby and built a house the same year I started freelancing, then found out I was pregnant again the week my husband and I officially launched our first company. Our first business plan included goals for both family and marriage. Working together, we didn’t always succeed at keeping business out of the home, but we always had dinner together as a family and we read to the kids even if we were on the road and had to do it on the phone (back when LD rates were much higher!) We also cancelled our TV services so they didn’t creep into family time.

    It was easier then because we didn’t have the fifth wall in the room (smart phones!) – good luck with that one when your boys get older. Other than that we can attest that your 5 points are pretty solid. We’ve used very similar strategies through 6 companies over a couple decades. The only one we did a bit differently was in determining the CEO of Us. Our philosophy is that whoever it is most important to makes the decision. So Marcel bought the cars (it really matters to him!) and I hired the cleaning service. We let the kids choose the vacation country but I planned the trips (loved finding unique adventures) and Marcel booked it (controlled the $). He cooks (he’s amazing) so I don’t complain about the kitchen mess.

    We do the same at the office. He’s CEO because he likes people contact. I’m more creative and I handle all of what I consider the fun stuff (lots of subjectivity). Despite the fact that I was an accountant, he handles the finances because he’s good at it. Being present extends to knowing what we each do best, and taking the time to do it well. I think that as long as we share common goals and remember to respect one another – and that includes the kids – we find the balance to succeed on all fronts.

    • Dan Martell

      Vera, so cool… thanks for sharing your story / perspective on this … feel like it needs more discussion amongst entrepreneurs.


  • Selena Soo

    I love this video! I particularly the idea of each partner being responsible for something different (i.e. family vs. relationships between the two of you). Work life balance has always been challenging for me, and there were some very helpful gems in this video. Thanks Dan!

    • Dan Martell

      Selena, got to give credit were it’s due … Ether Perel taught me this and it’s been a game changer for the past 3 years.

      If you haven’t watched this scope, it helps give more tips from Renee’s point of view, especially for the women.


      • Selena Soo

        More great stuff! Really loved hearing about the quarterly retreats (in the same way you would have a quarterly business meeting) and all the advanced scheduling and planning.

        I also really liked what you said about wanting an entrepreneur to be your life partner. Someone who has the same growth mindset as you. I’ve never heard anyone say that before. Very cool!

      • Rose

        One of my favorite Scopes. Everything you and Renee talked about resonated with me, especially quality (vs quantity of) time with kids. We have a similar schedule (I get morning routine, my husband gets night routine) and its been a big help. Thanks again for sharing your approach and perspective!

  • Daniel Rodriguez del Villar

    I’m so glad you did this video! One of the reasons I decided to build my own company is to leave something great for my baby child Sebastian!

    • Dan Martell

      Daniel, that’s awesome.

      Creating something that will outlast our time on earth is cool.

      Keep it up.


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