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8 reasons why running a small business is like having a baby

Back in April 2017 I was embarking on a new business start up, struggling with the trials of parenting, school holidays and child care, to name a few.  After a particularly stressful Easter holidays where I emerged feeling a bit broken but rather smug at having not only managed it, but managing it successfully, I wrote a blog about it.  Not much has changed, and from the perspective of summer holidays 2021, here it is again…

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

New Business Start Up vs New Baby!

1. 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.

2. It requires your attention constantly

For anyone who had to endure home schooling during lockdown, this will resonate… Where’s the pencil sharpener?  How do you spell (insert ludicrous word here)? Why doesn’t long division make any sense?  Write a blog! Do some marketing! Where’s your next client coming from? You get the idea… Don’t feel bad if the kids didn’t constantly learn from 9-3 every day; allowing either your children or your business to sap you of all strength isn’t going to help anyone.

3. 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 the dreaded Covid, exams being cancelled, 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.

4. 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.

5. It’s expensive

Well, yes.

6. 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!

7. 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.  Business start up

8. 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.

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