By Mel Fisher, MD, BforB
My son recently turned 18. We had a lovely celebration with family and friends, and he’s turning into a thoroughly nice young man, which is very rewarding. Indeed, as I thought about this, and looked back at the 18 years that have passed since he was born, it gave me some food for thought: the similarities between raising a child and building a business.
To begin with, your baby is born, and you find yourself working non-stop morning, noon and night to provide for your new arrival. Sound familiar!
In the early days, there are times when life stinks, literally with a baby, metaphorically when you deal with the frustrations of establishing a start-up business. You discover a patience you never previously realised you had, and whatever the challenges, you know you have to remain positive at all times: so when the baby cries all night, you deal with it, but then seek advice and solutions.
Indeed, there is a similarity with networking – one you would expect from me! As a mother to a young child you join ‘mother and baby’ groups to meet like-minded people, learn from each other’s experiences, and seek to offer help where relevant. Just as we do when we go business networking for the first time: meet, learn, educate, move forward with confidence. Hopefully!
Going forward we grow our connections, and as we do so, we grow with confidence – being a mother is no different.
How many more similarities can I think of: for instance, it is always difficult to switch off, it keeps you awake at nights, no two days are alike, growing pains cause trials and tribulations, running before you can walk can prove painful…and so on.
But of course, there are plenty of highs: birthdays, for instance, and maybe the immense pride at any awards or achievements; not forgetting the anticipation of what can potentially be achieved by your child or your business in the future.
As your child grows older, you can – like your business – start to take a small step back: sure, you remain hands on, but you can finally take some time off and confidently delegate someone to take responsibility in your absence. And by the teenage years, you’ve become more of a consultant and advisor: giving your charges the opportunity to make their own decisions, but being there to help them do it if requested, and being on hand to step in, in the event of a crisis.
As both a parent and a business owner, you need to communicate well, be patient, and learn from your mistakes. You need to nurture and support, but without being too hands on. And on good days and bad, you are always a proud parent and business owner.
The ultimate aspiration is to make both your child, and your business, self-sustaining; ultimately if all goes well, there are far more good days than bad, and when you look back, you wouldn’t swap the experience for anything!
My son is 18 now. My role going forward is to make sure I give him the best advice, and help him make the right decisions for his future. Eventually he’ll go his own way, but I will always be there for him. Just as any business owner would be for the ‘baby’ they launched from scratch, and toiled for years to make successful.
Yes, there is definitely a similarity between raising a child and running a business!