Baby clothes on Washing Line

Goodness, it really is rather hard running your own business isn’t?!

Apparently, it’s ‘National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day’ in the U.S.  Don’t worry America, I had this one totally covered over the recent Easter holidays, no need for me to participate today! This is familiar to anyone who works for themselves and takes on the nigh on impossible job of ‘getting some work done whilst keeping an eye on the kids’. It’s really hard.

(Disclaimer – I’m not one of those people who thinks anyone without children has it easy, far from it!)

However, emerging from a two-week haze which involved (amongst other things) Easter, two birthdays and an important Open Day I’m now feeling a bit broken but rather smug at having not only managed it, but managed it successfully. This is how I feel when I get all of the children to school on time, so it got me thinking about the similarities between raising a child and a successful business…

Everyone tells you how hard it will be (whilst smiling disconcertingly)

The first thing my boss said to me when I handed my notice in was ‘do you realise how hard it is to run your own business?’ And of course, I said yes, because anyone heading in this direction would be a fool to think it’s all plain sailing – but I had no way of actually knowing what it would be like. It’s the same with child birth – until you’ve done it you really have no idea of what’s in store no matter how much you read up on it, and anyone who has already gone through the experience is always more than happy to tell you. My advice? Listen to the sensible advice and ignore the horror stories.

It requires your attention constantly

I’m hungry! Where are my shoes? Write a blog! Do some marketing! Where’s your next client coming from? You get the idea… Don’t feel bad about wanting to take a break; allowing either your children or your business to sap you of all strength isn’t going to help anyone.

It keeps you up at night worrying

Everyone knows that problems or issues always appear worse in the middle of the night. From worrying about exam results, friendships, swimming lessons and that last argument you had about homework to fretting over emails sent to potential clients, planning cash flow and mentally organising your next marketing campaign, it can make for some sleepless nights. Worrying never solved anything though; learn to plan, prepare, and embrace surprises, challenges and change. And get some sleep.

Everyone else seems to make it look so easy

I’m sure it’s not just me, but everyone else in the world seems to be swanning through life, showing off their well behaved and academically brilliant children and fighting off hordes of potential lucrative clients whilst enjoying long expensive summer holidays. We all know this isn’t the case and that the majority are struggling with the same or similar issues as you are. This is why business networking (and their baby sister, toddler groups!) are fabulous for sharing knowledge, gaining confidence and keeping you sane.

It’s expensive

Well, yes.

You want it to succeed more than anything

Nobody has children hoping that they fail at school and end up with no friends, living alone and existing off ready meals. Likewise, I know of very few people who start up a business without the drive to want it to succeed. You’ll make sacrifices to reach the goal, but no-one can do it completely alone. I like to try my hand at everything, but accepting help and embracing collaboration do not equal failure. To labour the parenting analogy once more, let your partner get up for the midnight feed!

The rewards are always worth it

I’m not a sentimental person and I don’t want this to sound cheesy, but in parenting and business, the hard work, tears and frustration are always worth it when you see your happy child, book a new client or receive a glowing testimonial. It’s why we put ourselves through it, and it makes us feel proud, quite rightly.

Breast or Bottle?

As with parenting, there is no one size fits all, and no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way, although obviously there are proven paths which are more likely to lead to success than others.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. Do what you are good at, follow advice but don’t feel pressured to run your business in a way which doesn’t sit well with you, and enjoy every moment. The passion for what you do, if genuine, will shine through and can be the biggest marketing tool you possess.