What do you do when your family’s best stories get lost to the mists of time? Make a podcast, that’s what.
Dhilon Solanki is the founder of Story Locker, a new gifting platform enabling you to record your – or a loved one’s – story as a personal podcast. We asked him how he juggles dad life and work.
Story Locker was inspired by my Mum, Nina, who passed away in 1995 aged 50, with Acoustic Neuroma (a type of brain tumour). She never met her grandchildren, and when I think of her I always imagine the memories that might have been and how she would have loved knowing her grandchildren.
Recently, my eight-year-old son, Kian, has been asking about his grandma, and all I had to share with him were my memories, along with some old photos and VHS tapes.
Precious as those are, I’d have given anything for my sons to hear her voice and listen to her life story. It made me think how my Mum could have captured her story in today’s digital world.
I decided to set up an interview for my Dad so he could tell their story and have it recorded as a podcast. When I saw my son’s face as he listened to it play back, I knew we had created something special.
Starting Story Locker was extremely hard, especially as I have a day job as well. I’ve had to be smart with my time – making sure I’m not neglecting my work and giving the new business the attention it needs.”
I’ll be honest, it’s not easy. Running a business, you’re constantly having to be on alert and it’s difficult to switch off. I have learnt to carve out quality family time from my work schedule, when I make them my complete focus.
I’m always striving to find a better work/life balance, but this comes with the territory and I’m lucky to have a very supportive family. My wife Birva is my rock who supports me every step of the way, while my Dad’s wisdom and guidance is invaluable.
Sometimes extended family members have been upset when I haven’t been able to make engagements. Ultimately I’ve realised that keeping everyone happy is not always possible and made my peace with that.”
When starting a business you need support from your family, in particular your partner. My wife works at a school and we have found a balance in our days and weeks to ensure our working lives can accommodate our children’s needs and lifestyle.
Having a great mentor also helps. Kirsty [Guest] has been with me from the early days of Story Locker and, as a sole founder, having that advice and support on tap is a big asset and something I’d want to continue.
As the business builds, it should allow me to bring in extra resources to support development and give more time to focus on strategy and future goals. Longer-term, I’d also like to add new skills to help Story Locker become a brand leader. With further growth I’d then be in a position to leave my day job and focus on it full-time.
Story Locker has made me put an even greater value on time with my sons and on the importance of sticking to your word – as it’s easy to get sidetracked with a start-up. Even when time is limited, or I can’t do it every day, I’ve made sure I am around for a bedtime story or to take the children to school – it’s something we all look forward to.
Also, despite the stress of getting a business off the ground, I’ve learnt to compartmentalise, so my bad days won’t impact the rest of the family. It’s easier said than done though!
Having purpose and a never-give-up attitude has helped me cope mentally with the demands of fatherhood and running a business.
My children will certainly grow up with a work ethic but I hope that, as a dad and entrepreneur, I can inspire them to pursue their dreams.