Some people have multiple pets that they love equally. Others have a passion they follow with other secondary hobbies on the side. Multiple interests means the love and attention get spread around a bit, for better or for worse. For entrepreneurs who have ventured into several business endeavors, managing their companies is like having multiple children.

Serial entrepreneurs are busy people with complicated work-life balancing acts, but it turns out that many of them have found a major intersection between their personal and professional lives: parenting and running businesses aren’t so different. While individual experiences vary, finding an equilibrium between so many responsibilities certainly mirrors the challenges of parenthood.

Betina Finley, a Bellevue entrepreneur, is both a mother of three and a business owner of two.

Betina Finley, a Bellevue entrepreneur, is both a mother of three and a business owner of two. Photo courtesy Betina Finley

For Bellevue entrepreneur Betina Finley, balancing two businesses is similar to the juggling act of mothering her three children.

“Being an entrepreneur of multiple companies is like parenting multiple children,” Finley said. “You look forward to time with each equally, and you also treasure their differences.”

Finley is the founder of TurnKey Meetings and the co-founder of SocTok, and continues to lead each company simultaneously. This perspective works for her as she chooses how to manage her time with her businesses and family.

“I really love the opportunity to be organized yet flexible enough to effectively manage overlapping time demands,” Finley said.

However, her tender view on such a challenging career arrangement isn’t always echoed by other entrepreneurs.

Joe Verschueren, co-founder of ImageX, Parallel Communications, and Formotus, also related his experience as an entrepreneur to being a parent, but with a very different perspective.

“The difference with startups is that you don’t have to love them equally like you do your kids,” Verschueren said. “For example, I can definitely say Formotus is the one I’ve enjoyed the most, even with the stress of the recession and changes in the industry.”

A common theme with entrepreneurs is that the passion they feel for their business is what motivates them to work so hard towards success, a dedication not unlike the one they also use to raise their kids.

For James Wong, founder of Avidian Technologies and co-founder of Foci Technologies and Solterra Cities, leaving his position at Foci after it was acquired by Meritage Technologies was a difficult transition.

“Selling the company was like selling my first-born son,” Wong said, adding that his identity became tied to his business, making it difficult to imagine letting go.

Seeing businesses as children may make it easier to dedicate so much time to cultivating their success, as well as finding a work-life balance that allows entrepreneurs to focus on the most crucial priority at the moment, whether it be with their families or with one of their businesses. The companies might not get a spot in the family Christmas card, but holding a spot in an entrepreneurs’ heart is part of what keeps them alive and growing to be a healthy, successful adult-sized business someday.