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05 Nov

Orange soda and almond biscuits

Datum: 2010-11-05 11:24

Last week, Göteborgs-Posten (west Sweden’s major daily newspaper) made an interview with me about how to combine having your own business and being a parent. Since my kids came along to the interview, I had the opportunity to use one of my most powerful tools for an undisturbed conversation - orange soda and almond biscuits.

The interview came about due to the fact that I will give a talk at the Mumtrepreneur event here in Gothenburg tomorrow.

Here’s a pdf of the interview in Swedish (with a nice picture) and below is a translation.

The art of combining

David Stiernholm is a father of twins as well as an entrepreneur. On Saturday he gives a talk to female entrepreneurs about the art of combining being a parent and running a business.

He is one of the lecturers of this year’s edition of the Mumtrepreneur event in Gothenburg, where women who run a business and women who wants to start one are given advice and tips, and get a chance to network. He is also the father of Teodor and Alma. They are three and a half years old, full of energy and expect Fanta and Italian biscotti when at dad’s office. 

David Stiernholm refers to himself as a Struktör. He teaches entrepreneurs and managers of businesses of all sizes how to organize their work to get the most out of it.
“Structure is the key. It becomes even clearer after you’ve had children”, says David and swiftly sets the table in the office’s lounge-area with orange soda and biscuits.
“If you want to be present with and for them, and simultaneously run your business, you can’t afford to let time fly by or have your head filled with things which needs to be done.”

While Teodor and Alma are busy snacking, he gets a chance to explain his concepts further.

“It’s about working systematically in a way which allows you to do what you need to get done, as quickly and easily as possible.”
He graduated with a masters in economics and business, worked four years in the wholesale industry and after that, worked as an Executive Vice President in a corporation, when the idea of starting his own business dawned on him.

“I was a busy bee and had a lot on my mind”, he says. “It was stressful and I started to notice how it affected me negatively, so I found methods which enabled me to have a cleared, empty desk and still get things done. Eventually, the urge to start my own company grew. I wanted more freedom. Everywhere I turned, I saw the need for structure.”

Now he has worked as a Struktör for seven years. He gives talks and work-shops and works individually with key-people in different types of companies or in the public sector. 
“Right now I am helping two principals to structure their work better. It’s very hands on. “

Getting there

The foundation consists of thee main tools:

  • Project overview. List all the more extensive tasks and projects you’ve got to do. It might be clients which need to be worked on, it-systems which needs to be implemented, a homepage which needs to be created and so on. Be specific and clear. Make sure the overview is complete, so that you’ve really included everything.
  • To-do-list. You need it to avoid keeping everything in your head. Split the items on the project overview into smaller tasks which you continuously put on the to-do-list. Also add the tasks you have extracted from all the e-mails you’ve received. Don’t keep anything on small notes. Be strict when prioritizing. List the business’ goals such as growth, turnover and result. Keep asking the question; Does this activity lead me towards my goal? If it doesn’t, don’t do it at all or at least don’t prioritize it. Putting everything in list-form decreases stress and you attain a stronger sense of being in control.
  • Agenda. Schedule what needs to be done. Make time and schedule you work day. Determine how many hours you wish to work and compensate yourself for “overtime”.

“When I’ve been on a longer trip which has taken time from the family, I take a day off with the children. I lectured on the Canary Islands last week. Due to that, I take today off”, says David Stiernholm and moves to the side of the armchair so that Alma has room to make a somersault next to him. When Teodor starts to climb the walls as well, he concludes that our conversation is coming to an end.

“It’s important to be structured yourself, because these guys won’t be structured that easily”, he says, laughs and nods at the twins.

Photo: Elisabeth Alvenby