A close friend has just launched her own business. She asked me what it’s really like and what she can expect. I told her it’s like bringing up a baby. What?!
#1. It will give you sleepless nights. Unlike an actual baby, unfortunately this is not a phase (see #6).
#2. It is your responsibility and no-one else’s - even if you have a business partner to share the load, it’s your name on the door (virtual door, in our case). Unlike when you’re an employee, suddenly you are responsible for bringing home the bacon, for protecting from danger (risk), for learning and development and keeping presentable!
#3. There will be many hidden costs. Few business plans cover every eventuality. Build as big a contingency fund as you can, and keep it replenished.
#4. It will drive you crazy. You won’t always understand its behaviour and you need to be on constant high alert to anticipate risk and where it’s going to swerve next (think two year old in the park).
#5. You get out what you put in. Neglect at your peril! Apply constant attention and you will see the benefit of the time and energy you devote. Don’t expect it to grow and improve on its own.
#6. Everything that happens is ‘just a phase’ which can feel interminable. However, as with newborns waking for a feed, the terrible twos, and the tear-your-hair-out teenage years, this is a truism. All things will pass.
#7. It will make you feel utterly exhausted - but also invigorated, elevated, inspired and encouraged to be the best you can be. Remember the highs.
#8. You’ll make lots of new friends. Not just ‘contacts’, but true lifelong friendships forged through mutual experience. New circles expose you to wonderful people you wouldn’t otherwise have ever met.
#9. At times, you’ll think, “I just can’t do this!” You’ll be faced with challenges and situations that you never had to deal with before. You’ll wonder when the grown-ups are going to show up. You’ll figure it out (with help).
#10. It will be more rewarding than you ever dreamed. You’ll change and grow in new ways and it will teach you about yourself.
Fellow business owners, please add the many things I’ve no doubt missed (never got over the baby brain - here are the culprits, my real babies, now aged 13 and 8)...
Our business baby is now a fully fledged 15yo teenager, growing fast and continuing to challenge and amaze us on a daily basis!