23 days ago I had a baby boy.
Often I find that people describe their business as a baby – another child – and there are many similarities.
Giving birth to a baby is hard work. I’m not going to go into a long story about giving birth and how much “fun” that was – all I’m going to say is that it’s not easy. There are times when you feel like you’d like to give up, times when you just need to sleep but there’s a baby coming so you don’t get much choice. Not including pregnancy which is hard work too! The result though – absolutely worth it.
Birthing a business can be hard work. It’s not always easy. Sometimes you want to give up. There may be many nights when you don’t sleep. It might not be as physically draining as actually giving birth, but there’s a lot to think about, work on and plan out. You might have a deadline for launch or a lot to learn. You might make mistakes or need to ask someone to guide you. Ensuring that you have everything in place, that you’ve got your plans and goals set and all the things you need, that you’re ready to deal with anything that’s thrown at you and making sure not only that you have a fantastic support network but that people know that you exist, along with everything else that you need to do can be shattering. But you’re doing really well, so keep at it. It’s worth the effort.
Having a baby changes you. This is my second baby and I’d forgotten a lot about what it’s like to have a brand new somebody around. How different everything is. How hard it is to put the baby down! How much time they take up. It changes your thoughts on things – you have to think about where you go in terms of places to sit and feed or change nappies, if you can get around with the buggy or need to take a sling – the baby becomes the main focus of everything going on in your life.
Having a business changes you too. Maybe you watch Dragons Den from a different perspective or your bedside table becomes a tower of business books instead of fiction. Perhaps you find it impossible to put your “baby” down. Your business can be consuming and take over every part of your life. You might find that you can’t stop yourself from doing a bit of work at quarter to midnight or that you need to just test something out even though you’re not in the office – or that your work invades your personal space, spreading across the dining table so that everyone has to eat from their knees on the sofa. Maybe you need to take a detour on the way to a family day out so you can take a look at something you’ve heard about.
There’s good and bad. Babies are very cute, very cuddly, amazing and fascinating tiny beings. They also produce the most incredible nappies. If you have a baby then you’ll know what I mean.
In business there’s some fantastic rewards. These could be monetary, or they could be the people you get to meet or just doing what you love. There’s also some things that aren’t so good. The nightmare client. The task that takes ten times longer than you expected. The delivery that arrives long after you need it.
Babies grow up. I have a five year old too. So she’s not yet progressed through the teenage years (I’m not really looking foward to that) but she has grown up quite a bit since she was born. My son can’t do anything himself. Except sleep and cry. My daughter can do both of these things and she can talk and walk and eat and play with toys and get dressed and make basic sandwiches and feed the cat and clean herself and a whole multitude of other things. She’s not a baby anymore. She’s changed dramatically.
Your business will grow up too. My business is a whole 3.5 months younger than my daughter and has grown and changed a lot since it began. There are similarities of course. I still offer the same services – but I’m more choosey. I still have the same office – but it has loads more in it! I still work on my own – but I’m getting better at outsourcing, trusting others and collaborating. I do more than I used to. I blog more. I send out a monthly newsletter. I have a monthly membership programme. I know more people and have worked with more people. I’ve learnt so SO much in the last five years and that tower of business books on the bedside table that I mentioned earlier, is a reality for me. I’ve learnt to invest in myself and my business. Things have changed.
It’s been worth it.
Do you think of your business like a baby?