Why setting up your own business is like giving birth (literally)
Last year I had a baby. A beautiful, happy little girl who is my pride and joy.
This year, I’m back to running my own business. The new year sees me going forward full throttle in my mission to make big brand marketing accessible for startup budgets.
But this morning, as I was getting ready, I was thinking about how many parallels there are between having a baby and having your own business.
Now there are the obvious ones. You care about it, protect it, have to work hard, you love it, it can also drive you a bit crazy at times etc. But to me there seemed like a few that went even deeper, and I thought I could share them with you. So, this is my take on why setting up your own business is like having a baby (literally) - and how either situation can in fact help you with the other!
Oh, and my husband read this and with a horrified face, and asked if there were going to be pictures…don’t worry, there won't, I promise!
Will I, Won’t I
So when you set up your own business, you go through a whole tip toeing dance kind of stage of “will I, won’t I”. This bit can go on for quite a while as you build up the courage to take the plunge, leave behind the security of your well paid job, and go forth and conquer your dreams.
When you decide to have a baby, much in the same way, the “are we ready” question is where you begin. Are we ready to bring a new person into the world, are we ready for the responsibility, to relinquish our freedom (somewhat), and put our all into caring for and raising a little person.
The answer was yes, on both fronts.
Brave, maybe, crazy, definitely! ;)
It’s all in the prep - isn’t it?
So you’re having a baby!
You go out an buy every book available on birth, birthing, pregnancy and how to get through the next year that is stretching out ahead of you, with your dignity and sanity in tact and devour it all at a pace. You download apps to track the baby’s shape and size, anything that makes you feel slightly secure in this really daunting, yet exciting time as you count down the weeks and months to D Day.
So you are running your own business!
You want to be inspired, and start to realise how much self motivation it takes to be your own boss. Books, blogs, podcasts and events are your mainstay.
In both cases, Google is your God - anything from “can I eat sushi while pregnant” to “how do I do my own SEO” - you rely on reassurance from the world wide web to give you the answers and show that you are not alone in asking the ‘stupid’ questions that pop into your head at 4am in the morning when you are awake thinking “can I really do this?!”
Everyone has an opinion
This is something that with my business and with my baby effects me in exactly the same way. I’ve decided that this is basically because I don’t like being told what to do by anyone!!
With both a business and a baby, everyone is an expert. Yes other people have done it before you, you are not the first, you won’t be the last, and yes I know that people can give you advice that is helpful as a first time mum, and as a first time business owner.
But the to me, this is very simple. If I want your advice I’ll ask for it, and feedback is welcome as long as its constructive. Otherwise, I’m not looking for it!
This is true on both fronts. Business & Baby
Everyone has an opinion, some well meaning (or not so well meaning sometimes) piece of advice, some nugget that they just have to share, or force on you relevant or not. The trick to it is to steel yourself and your baby (business baby or baby baby) against it, and continue to push forwards and have confidence in yourself, your ideas and your way of doing things.
You know best. Both babies (business & actual baby) are you, have come from you and only you have the vision to know what to do next and what is needed. Trust yourself, you’ve got this.
You have a plan, but it all goes out the window
Birth plan, business plan - actually much of a muchness!
When you have baby, you are asked about how you want to give birth. Do you want the lights down, or music on, what position (Yes! I know! My response was “how the hell am I meant to know, I’v never done this before!!!?!) water birth, pain relief, the list goes on and so you write down a plan of action as you would like things to go, in your ideal vision of birth (pain free, quick and easy).
Well, let me tell you, things don’t often go to plan.
Which we all know is much like a business plan. You write down your best researched estimates and projections, who you will target as customers, how you will reach them through marketing, and how much money your company will make in its first few years. The reality is often so far from this it makes you laugh when you read them back.
But in both situs, what you learn, what you achieve and what you end up with at the end of it all is worth so much and will have taught you so much, you will be a stronger and better person for it.
When the s**t hits the fan
Newborn poo is gross - say no more.
The crap that also comes with running your own business can also be pretty shitty.
From cash flow, to tough clients or customers, trying to retain your margin whilst defending your listings, haggling with buyers, becoming an expert in supply chain and manufacturing over night, to invoicing. It’s all stuff that we have to roll up our sleeves and deal with over and over again, on a daily basis.
It doesn’t go away, but with time, practice and experience you do eventually manage to avoid the mess that can come with it, and become a dab hand at getting things done fast, efficiently and effectively.
Pass me the wet wipes!
You think you can’t do it, but you can
When I was pregnant, sometimes the reality of actually having to give birth would hit me and I’d have to take big deep breaths (hard when you are heavily pregnant - trust me!) and tell myself “you can do this!”
I’ve had some of those very same moments running my own business as well.
The truth of it all is that there is no magic formula, you just get on and do it. Taking action is always better than thinking on the “what if’s”, and somehow you get through.
With giving birth, you don’t really have an option. You get through it someway, somehow, and once you’re out the other side and over time, it honestly doesn’t seem that bad.
Likewise, with your own business, the tough times can be really tough, but its the tough times that make you stronger. Somehow you get through, you find a way and you learn, you grow and you are a stronger person for making it to the other side.
In either case you should be proud of yourself, and proud of what you have achieved and created just by being you.
So there we have it, just a few of the reasons why in so many ways running your own business prepares you for having a baby, and having a baby makes you really capable of setting up your own business.
Both make you stronger, more resilient, more prepared to deal with crap and more focused than ever. Plus you will have some pretty funny stories to tell.
But I hope you can see that both are huge life experiences that really test who you are and what you are made of, and show you that you can truly do amazing things when you put your mind to it.
We make Big Brand Marketing accessible for Startup Budgets.
After 15 years of building and cultivating some of the UK's largest household brands; Lesley set out with her ambition to bring the exclusive marketing techniques of high-profile businesses to SME's and entrepreneurs.
Having had the benefit of many years of working with the biggest and best FMCG brands and businesses in the country, Lesley applies this big brand knowledge and know-how to startups to help them do marketing themselves.