I wanted to reissue this post to add some additional information from John Warrillow. Check the link at the end of the article.
There is a truth to the thought that starting a business is a lot like having children:
- There is never a perfect time to start
- There is more to know then expected
- You cannot guess how it will change your life
In Business, like having children, there is an overwhelming sense of love and satisfaction that comes when you have a business you are passionate about. Unlike having children you will have more control over how it operates when it is mature.
So why is being a parent an advantage to a business owner? Let’s take a look at the three items above that these two life courses have in common.
No Perfect Time to Start
Before I had children, in a time when I knew I was going to have children, I spent a lot of time trying to define (with my husband Brian) how my life needed to be to be able to manage a life with kids. I needed a job with some flexibility. I wanted to be in our own home. I had to be finished my degree. We wanted to have a combined income of a certain level. We wanted to have traveled together. Well, as you can see I had a list.
I’m very good at implementing, so most of my list was complete when my first child was born. What I could not believe was how much time I must have had before children. I mean really, what did I do with all our extra time? I should have been able to finish two degrees.
Before I started my first business I needed to know exactly how I was going to be paid, who was going to work with me, how I could get extra funding, and where my clients would come from. Everything I needed to know about business, or so I thought. There is so much to know about business that if you started down the learning path before you launched, you’d be in an MBA before you opened your doors and still you would not have enough information.
Somehow I was able to take on an enormous amount of work I did not have before: Work that runs into family time or weekends and yet it still seems to fit into my life.
To completely understand your business you have to be in it – you have to start. Each business has its own personality (Brand) and friends (target market) and family (mentors and peers).
There is More to Know
I could not have guessed I would have had to know so much about child psychology, conflict resolution, mentoring, leadership, delegation, and diplomacy as a parent. Dealing with kids, their friends and their friend’s families, teachers, schools, sports clubs, etc. has been a huge ‘eye opener’ for me.
I could not have guessed I would have had to know so much about human psychology, conflict resolution, mentoring, leadership, delegation, and diplomacy as a business owner. On top of this I also must understand accounting and bookkeeping, sales, marketing, business development, and operations among other skills. I am truly grateful for the learning I received dealing with my children which helped me more quickly become a leader as a business owner.
Change Your Life
As I mentioned, I don’t know what I must have done with all my extra time before I had kids, but I can tell you I love the time I spend with them now. There is humour, growth, development, companionship, maturity, fun, tears, and love. There is a wonderful feeling of belonging, not only to my family but to the community my children tie me to.
Being in business also ties you to a community of peers, supporters, family, mentors, teachers, advisers, partners, affiliates, and clients. There are literally hundreds of opportunities to be connected in business in ways you could not necessarily have foreseen before you started. The more you give to these connections the more you will get back. It can be an extremely gratifying part of your business.
Growing a business is a life lesson. Be excited to learn. Learn from your children to apply to your business and learn from you business to be a better parent and leader. Remember to teach your kids the benefits of being an entrepreneur and model the way so that they will bring that enthusiasm to all they do in life. Who knows, maybe they will take over the business one day.
I wanted to re-issue this post because I just read another article that brings even more credence to this topic. Check out “Do Parents Make Better Startup Founders?” by John Warrillow.