…Especially the first few years of parenting and business, and lessons from each
Even though I opened my first business in 2009 as a psychotherapist, it wasn’t until after I had my first child 3.5 years later that I had the courage to go full-time with it.
I was terrified of giving up that stable check, great insurance, paid vacation time and automatic 401K contributions, but I also just had a baby, and knew I wasn’t going to be able to take care of my business, my child and my J-O-B.
It was clear which one I had to let go of.
I took the leap, said goodbye to the J-O-B, went full-time with my practice, and never looked back. Since then, I’ve reinvented my business and myself. We both continue to evolve and grow today.
Each new business endeavor brings up similar fears as when I decided to call myself boss that first time, and you can bet I was terrified at the prospect of having a second child.
A recent gaze at the milk splashed across the floor and prunes smeared up my arm helped me realize that entrepreneurship is not too different from having kids. The constant testing and amazement from both is just the tip of the iceberg.
Here are 50 reasons why having babies and businesses are similar, and what I’ve learned from my first few years in the parallel rodeos of parenthood and entrepreneurship:
1. You have no idea what you’re in store for before they are physically here
It’s so much different than you ever could have imagined, and nothing anyone tells you could possibly prepare you.
2. Those without kids or businesses might not get it
You might get weird looks or judged if you try to explain. Don’t worry about it, and recognize that no amount of talking can explain the inexplicable.
The lesson is to accept and love people as they are, where they are. You didn’t get it when you were on the other side of parenthood or entrepreneurship either. And you might not get their stuff too.
3. Life changes dramatically
You may not realize it until it’s too late. You learn to adapt, quickly.
4. You get to experience self-doubt like never before, which comes with RESPONSIBILITY like no other
Keep that baby and that business alive, embrace every moment you have, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. That’s the name of the game.
One step at a time.
5. You NEVER know who you’ll become
Kids? I never thought I could care so much about them.
Diapers? Never imagined I could be so comfortable with them.
Social media? I was a late joiner to Facebook. Now? I’m kinda all over it.
I’ve opened myself up to opportunities in business I never thought I’d be interested in before.
They lesson is to enjoy the ride. Welcome each new reinvention of yourself along the way. It’s called growth. When you’re not doing it, you’re dying.
6. If you didn’t know how to get support before, you’ll become a pro at asking for help
Help was something I was never notoriously good at asking for. Partially because I’m a bit of a control freak. With kids or business, though, you’ll get nowhere fast if you try to do it alone.
From someone to clean the house to upgrade the website to watch the kids to tell me I’m not crazy, I’ve got help.
My lesson to you? It’s never too soon to get help, wherever you need it. Delegate the stuff you don’t want to do, get help with the kids, and get support and mentorship.
7. As soon as they arrive, you have arrived
Before having a kid or a business, I’d look at parents or business owners and think they were of a different species. Like they had a map that I didn’t have.
Then I had a business and became an entrepreneur. And had a baby and became a parent. I was clueless at both. Much like many parents and entrepreneurs before me.
The lesson? None of us are special and no one has been given a map. Which brings us to #8:
8. You build the plane mid-flight
Similar to the point above, many of us start businesses and families without knowing what we’re doing.
No amount of business training is going to amount to any kind of success unless you take action. And I still don’t quite understand the point of birthing classes, other than as an attempted anxiolytic.
With businesses and babies, you learn by doing. Not by thinking, planning, or even practicing. You have to take action.
9. Things rarely, if ever, go as planned
That’s part of the fun, but it’s not always easy!
Your kid gets sick (like both of mine have done in the past 4 days), your launch fails (mine wasn’t that great!), your “big break” falls through (not sure what that big break is yet), or perhaps an opportunity comes up that derails your life all together…you never know.
The lesson? Surrender. Let go. Trust that the Universe has your highest good in mind and remember, we are fragile specks on the grand scale of things who have little control anyway.
10. The time is now
And it really does fly. So be here.
The power is truly in the moment and in how you show up in each one you’re gifted with.
Your presence is the best present your kids can get, and there is no better way to gift them with more of it than by running your own business.
Likewise, your business needs your focused attention in every given moment devoted to it. Otherwise, you’ll be spinning your wheels and wasting your time.
As Jeff Olson writes in his game-changing book, The Slight Edge, success is made up of the tiny consistent actions that are easy to take, but also easy not to take. Be focused and present in all aspects of your life and do what matters, consistently.
Your lesson: Be where you are. Now. And fully.
11. With each new one, you relax a little more
Even though starting a new business or having another kid after you have a business or kid is scary, you start taking it less seriously. You trust yourself more, relax, and start taking yourself less seriously.
When I was pregnant with my first, I knew when he was the size of a “blueberry,” a “lemon,” an “avocado,” and whatever other fruits he became. With my second kid? I had no idea what week I was in, much less what fruit she was.
Business and babies are still no joke, but adding a second of each was easier than the first time around. I’ll be growing more businesses over my lifetime, but babies? I’m good with two.
12. When you start, you might initially accept the help from less-than-ideal people because you are green and maybe even desperate
My son’s first pediatrician had an office in the suite below us in our apartment complex. The thought of packing up my first infant and bringing him anywhere other than downstairs was intimidating to me, so convenience won. She told me not to kiss him because I could give him germs. And we got an extra vaccine by accident. Needless to say, our first doctors’ visits were not especially helpful.
My first “Virtual Assistant” if we can count her as that? Sold me a package and then disappeared with my money, without having done a thing for me. Goodbye several hundred dollars.
I’ve got plenty more stories, but let’s file this under “you learn as you go.”
The lesson? Forgive them, and more importantly, forgive yourself. Hanging onto the past does no one any good.
13. You’ll also encounter angels on earth who are there for you in your weakest moments
From various nurses to sitters to the guy Terry on his bike that helped me put the wheel back on my double jogging stroller when it flew off while running the other day (nice one, Mommy), there are countless angels here on earth that show up for us when we need them most.
Likewise, certain coaches and mentors have successfully done their jobs and helped me believe in myself when I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. Additionally, assistants have come through in ways I never knew imaginable.
More impressively, certain business BFFs have crossed paths with me and proven to be there for me no matter what. I’ve made lifelong friends who share my passion of creating lives on our terms.
The lesson? Life and survival are ultimately about connections.
14. You’re better off when surrounded by people who get it
I recently shared with one of my closest friends how I inadvertently shut a box of wipes on the tip of my 8 month old daughter’s little index finger. She then told me how she had an ER visit earlier in the day because she slammed her 3 year old’s son’s hand in the car door. It feels good to know you’re not alone.
I also have a select group of business confidantes to whom I let it all out – my insecurities, doubts, and unformed thoughts and questions They do the same with me.
There is comfort in sharing the tales, trials and tribulations. Above all, there is comfort and safety in the connection. Remember, Life and survival are ultimately about connections.
Come join my Facebook group, Thriving in Business and Love, and maybe make a new business bestie there (it’s free).
15. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not
This one is called, “trust your gut.”
Even if you’re clueless as a parent or as a boss, there’s a part of you that knows more than you know.
In business, too. You’re connected to something greater.
The more that you can do to clear whatever obstacles are between you and that greater thing, so you can trust your intuition, your hunches, your gut … the better.
The lesson? Trust yourself.
16. It gets easier
Talk about front-loading the difficulty! The more you do it, the easier and more second nature either running a business or raising a child becomes.
17. You learn about systems
You become obsessed with figuring out how to do things faster and better, whether that means getting your kid to sleep or being more efficient on social media.
You learn about incredible programs like Simplero which is what I use for just about everything. The company is based on values I believe in, it gets my job done, it is user friendly, and therefore I stand by it.
18. You get pooped on
In business, I’m talking about haters. You’ll get them if you’re doing it right.
In parenting, of course, I’m talking about getting pooped on. It happens a lot to me, and maybe to you too.
19. You learn more about yourself than you could have imagined
Similarly, you’ll learn more about yourself when you are a parent, and will remember about your childhood as well.
Pay attention and learn from what you are remembering.
(If you need help with that, check out Dan Siegel’s book Parenting From The Inside Out. This guy is amazing.)
20. Your attitude around money changes
In business, I became a lot less frugal and realized that I can make as much money as I desired to, so I was more likely to spend on things that I saw as investments and not WORRY so much about cash flow.
With parenting, my child’s wellness, happiness and SLEEP became more important than any dollar amount, so I’d exchange any kind of money for any of the above.
For me, money was no longer something to be so careful about, but I started thinking about in a more expansive way, as a means to an end, whether the end is a stronger business or child.
20. You get less taken with bright shiny objects over time
The sleek sales pages for business expanding opportunities and inviting aisles of Buy Buy Baby no longer appeal to me in the same way. It’s like I’ve grown immune to them. Most of them, anyway.
I’ve learned to trust myself and my abilities as a parent and business owner more, so I’m less likely to be wowed by the next program or product unless I know I really need it.
21. You become more open-minded and less quick to judge
Your empathy grows.
You know everyone has a story, and whatever they’re doing makes sense in the context of that story. You realize that your judgment helps no one.
In so many words of the late Dr. David Hawkins, or, er, the late Jesus H. Christ, everyone is innocent, even when we do terrible things.
22. You realize how we are all in the business of sales
Whether it’s encouraging someone to invest in themselves to improve their lives, or encouraging your toddler to eat vegetables, it’s all sales. And sales isn’t a bad thing, after all.
23. You sell them what they want, but give them what they need
You’ve got your kids’ and customers’ best interests at heart. Because fruit IS a dessert, and when someone addresses their own “stuff,” it will help their cranky significant other be nice to them again.
24. The more you learn, the more you realize the less you know
25. You understand that love really is the most powerful force in the world
Times can get challenging as a parent and as a business owner, but at the end of the day, both are about love. You realize that love is the most powerful force on earth, and you often swell with so much love that you didn’t even know was possible.
26. Done is better than perfect
There is no perfect, and unless you carry on with your imperfections, you will be at a perpetual standstill.
27. You need to start before you’re ready
I’ve never been ready. Still not ready.
28. You fail forward
It is is said that Thomas Edison had 1000 failed attempts before he invented the lightbulb. The only road toward success (in parenting and in business) is paved with failures.
Celebrate your failures as your stepping stones toward greatness.
29. Keep the customer satisfied
It keeps your business running, and your child healthy and happy. Service is the most important.
30. Don’t forget your oxygen mask
Without you oxygenated and taken care of, your kids and your business suffer. Make an effort to practice self-care.
My good friend Elaine Grace Copeland can help you with that.
31. They are more forgiving of you than you are of yourself
You will make mistakes in business and as a parent and beat yourself up for it. Your clients might not even notice, and will forgive you. Your kids, too, only know how to love you.
32. They will either destroy or strengthen your relationship with your partner
If you want a catalyst for growth in your relationship, try starting a business or having kids. Either will test your relationship and strengthen it if you allow it to.
33. A rock solid relationship with your partner makes all the difference
A strong relationship makes you more resilient to fear and pain. It helps you be stronger in everything you do. It makes you a better parent and a better entrepreneur.
When we can get our closest relationships right, we are not only showing our kids how to love best, but are able to show up more full of love in the world. If we all had strong relationships with our partners, the world would become a much better place for everyone.
34. “Little things” become miraculous
Whether it’s the utterance of a new coo sound or the moment your list crosses the 1,000 mark, these little things are milestones that you recognize as proof that something is working. They feel like tiny miracles along the way when you think about how far you’ve come.
35. You really understand the importance of “baby steps”
Again, in reference to Jeff Olson’s book, The Slight Edge, it’s the little consistent actions that you take that build up and make all the difference over time. Baby steps.
36. The success of others becomes your own
Nothing is better than seeing your kids and your clients do well.
37. You realize time is truly the most valuable commodity
And hopefully, as stated earlier, you recognize the importance of truly being present.
38. You become better with boundaries
You watch your boundaries like a guard dog, or at least you are better with your boundaries than you have been in the past, and continue to improve. Much of the fat automatically gets trimmed for your life as a result of becoming a parent or an entrepreneur.
39. If you’re not careful, you’ll lose yourself
Children and businesses both have the potential to swallow you whole, and because you love them so much, you might actually allow it to happen. Don’t.
Have something that’s just yours.
40. You’ll discover new levels of desperation
The occasional cocktail of extreme sleep deprivation, financial regret, financial uncertainty and bouts of self-doubt can send you down a rabbit hole of desperation that you hadn’t known existed.
You’ll get over it.
41. You wonder how anyone did this before Google
42. You wonder how anyone did this before Apple
43. Faith is key
I’m not referring to anything religious necessarily, but am talking about the kind of faith that Napoleon Hill writes about in his classic, Think and Grow Rich.
In other words, you need to believe. You need to believe in yourself, and your ability to raise children and businesses that not only survive but thrive.
44. Leveraging is key too
I’m not at the stage as a parent where my kids have their friends over to play, but I look forward to the day when I can leverage my time by collaborating with other parents and arranging rotating play dates. The importance of figuring out how to leverage your time in business goes without saying.
I’ve taken so much from what I share with my VIP clients and put it into my online program, Make Love Work: The Entrepreneurs Guide to Prospering in Love & Profiting in Business.
My colleague Rick Gabrielly, aka The Marriage Boss, and I have also created a program called Love Bonds: 3 Weeks to Savoring The Fruits of Richer Financial Communication to specifically help entrepreneurs in love with their MONEY issues.
These courses would never replace customized 1:1 work with a client, but they enable me to reach people I otherwise would not reach by sharing my work in a different way.
Or, you can access BOTH of these programs for a low monthly fee in my community Live Free Or Die (no obligation to stay).
45. As soon as you think you have it down, something changes
Your kid is finally sleeping and then starts getting teeth. You feel like you’ve mastered Facebook Ads (I’m stretching the truth, here, as I’m still working on that) and then they change. A new platform pops up to learn. As soon as you think you get it, there’s a curveball.
46. You have more fun
Kids introduce an element of play that many of us had forgotten about, and if we’re doing business right, we’re having a lot of fun there too.
47. You are more grateful for showers than ever
Not bridal or baby showers, no, no thanks. I mean the kind of showers that get you clean.
As a parent of young children OR as an entrepreneur, the opportunity to take a shower, even if you play peek-a-boo with your 2 year-old while doing so, is precious. As a parent, you can wash the grime off and have a few minutes in a vestibule alone.
As a business owner, your shower is likely where you get some of your best ideas.
48. You are more grateful in general
Gratitude for being a parent, gratitude to be creating a life on your terms, and gratitude to be alive.
Despite your trials – the puke and the panic – you know, your life is reeeeeeeally good.
49. Your dreams only grow and involve way more than you
The potential that you see around you swells each day.
50. You’ll never look back
There’s life before and after becoming a parent or entrepreneur, and once you cross either line, you’ll never look back.
What other similarities have you found between parenting and entrepreneurship?
Surely some of you have more years under your belts than I do in either category – please share what you’ve learned from each in the comments below.
If I get enough, I’ll write an additional post with numbers 51-100.
Cheers to thriving in business & love,