Our family welcomed our first son into the world a few weeks ago.
As a former news journalist turned digital entrepreneur, with a husband who recently joined the business full-time, the past five years have been a challenging and rewarding period. Growing a family and a business is important to us, so during a busy and fast-evolving time in our industry we decided to round out our lives by having a baby. As I reflected on the pregnancy, the birth, and the early days of having a newborn in the house again after 10 years, I realized there are quite a few parallels to running a business.
It's hard work
If you're having a baby or starting a business, it takes a lot of work to get it right. If you're serious about success when it comes to nurturing "your baby" so it grows in the most beneficial way, it's not for the faint of heart or for those who like to spend four hours in front of the TV at night. That said, the dedication and focus on work is entirely worth it when you are doing something you absolutely love.
Surround yourself with the right people – ask for help
It's a mistake many first time entrepreneurs make – they think they can do it all by themselves. If you have a business concept that the market is ready for, it's likely impossible that you'll be able to keep up without burning yourself out. "It takes a village to raise a child" can also be said of business life. When you need help, and you will, make sure you ask for it. Delegate and surround yourself with the right people by hiring the right people who will make sure you reach your full potential.
While business plans and goals are necessary, as is developing some kind of routine with a baby, it is also important to be able to adjust your sails and change course when the need arises. Babies, like businesses and the marketplace, are constantly evolving and changing – the early days are often chaotic, so it's critical your "plan" includes the ability to pivot.
Patience is a virtue
Just as you can't rush the milestones of a growing child, you often can't rush the milestones of your business. Many first-time entrepreneurs think they can launch a company, achieve massive success and get rich after six months. This is definitely the exception rather than the rule. Taking the time to make sure you reach your goals takes time. From conception to birth to each developmental milestone, you need to be committed to the long haul.
Take care of No. 1
As the saying goes: you're no use to anyone or anything unless you take care of yourself first. Taking the time required to lift yourself up so you can be present for "your baby" is critical. You need to bring your best self to the table, every day, or everything and everyone around you will suffer.
Pay attention to early cues
A screaming baby can often mean you missed the early cues that the child is hungry. In business, if you ignore the early warning signs that there could be an issue on the horizon, full blown chaos is more likely to erupt. Stay aware and pay attention to early cues and signs so you can constantly meet the evolving needs of "your baby" to keep on course.
Something my midwife said to me right before giving birth – "you know it's almost time to give it your all when you start feeling like you can't take it any more" – made me think of another quote: "The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed."
Running a business and going into labour both turned out to be a lot tougher than I initially imagined. But if you take everything one step at a time, in the end you'll be rewarded.