For business owners, one of the best ways to gain knowledge is to observe other successful entrepreneurs — particularly those who juggle careers and families. Not only can you learn from their triumphs and setbacks, but you can also gain valuable insight into how to balance work with parenting.
In honor of Father’s Day, here’s a round-up of four incredible business owners who’ve transformed their industries while also raising kids.
Bill Gates is the founder of Microsoft, the company that set the standard for today’s computer software and consumer electronics. Not only did Gates strike a historic business deal with IBM in 1980 that helped usher in the era of the personal computer, he also developed Microsoft’s biggest product, the Windows operating system.
Gates also launched the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, a private charitable organization that seeks to reduce global poverty and improve education. Additionally, he created — then took — The Giving Pledge, which encourages billionaires to donate a majority of their money to charity.
As a father, Gates strives to teach his children about the importance of helping others. “This money is dedicated to helping the poorest,” he says. “They know that, they are proud of that, [and] they go on trips with us to see the work that’s being done.”
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, began his business ventures in 1972 when he started Virgin Records, a mail-order service turned hit record label. Eventually, Branson expanded the Virgin name to other industries, such as air travel, radio, hospitality, and healthcare. Now, the Virgin Group brings in around $20 billion in revenue each year and controls more than 400 companies world-wide, including Virgin Galactic, Branson’s commercial spaceflight company.
As a father who worked from home when his kids were young, Branson values work-life balance and gives his employees flexible working options. Being a hands-on parent, he says, also made him a better entrepreneur. “[My kids’] thirst for knowledge and new experiences were my incentive to keep questioning and challenging the status quo.”
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos revolutionized the e-commerce business by starting Amazon in 1995 as a virtual bookstore.
Since then, the company has become a massive multi-billion dollar operation that sells everything from furniture to food. With Bezos’ foresight and marketing acumen, Amazon has single-handedly transformed the consumer industry into the one-stop-shop online model it is today.
As a dad, Bezos aims to instill in his kids the same resourcefulness that contributed to his own success. He also strives for “work-life harmony,” explaining that being productive at work makes him a better father, and being present at home makes him a better boss.
Blake Mycoskie is the founder of TOMS, a for-profit company that combines business with philanthropy.
After traveling through Argentina and learning about the staggering number of children who grow up without shoes, Mycoskie decided to leverage his entrepreneurial experience to build a business that could help people and drive a profit. When Mycoskie started TOMS in 2006, he introduced the one-for-one business model, which donates an item to someone in need with every purchase. He also launched a movement built on encouraging consumers to use their purchase power for good. Now, TOMS sells and gives shoes, eyewear, bags, and coffee to millions of people in over 70 countries.
Though he travels regularly for work, Mycoskie prioritizes time with his family. “I am a big advocate for fathers taking paternity leave. I personally took 12 weeks and really tried to remain present, avoid work emails and calls, and give [my son and wife] my full attention,” Mycoskie says.