It’s been almost three years since Pappyon was “born”. And whilst I have not borne children of my own, I often wonder if creating your own business can feel like you’re living with a “baby”. For all the parents out there, please indulge my light-hearted take on all of this – by no means can I claim to be an expert, on real babies, that is.
This is what I do know or at least know I experience a lot of the time…sleepless nights, a foggy brain and often finding myself cleaning up stinky stuff every day. It’s easy to feel out of sorts, so much so, I can’t believe I am now using the word stinky!
The reality is, I have been putting all of my energy into growing Pappyon, my own business. It’s no baby per se but the highs and the lows of the start-up life, the emotions and the ever growing attachment is what makes my business feel more like an immediate member of my family than it does a business. I can actually see my friends and family nodding as they read this! I probably talk more about Pappyon than they do their own children. “Switch off!”, they often tell me!
If you are an entrepreneur in the start up phase, it’s very likely that you too may be nodding and have also felt overwhelmed along the way. Rest assured, you are not alone. You are not the only one going ‘gaga’.
There are many similarities between having a baby and building your own start-up. Here’s just a few…
There will be sleepless nights
Sleep becomes a golden chalice when you routinely lay awake at 2am unable to get your forty winks. And on the odd occasion, when amazingly your head hits the pillow before midnight, you wake not long after with thoughts and ideas that just have to be written down! These thoughts sure do feel like a crying baby in the middle of the night – one that you immediately wake to nurture.
When you are building a business your mind will race with ideas and occasional worry. This will result in restless and sleepless nights as you contend with the wails of your growing business.
You can’t learn this stuff at school
Once the baby arrives, the baby books are one of the first things that get thrown away. No one has time to read when a crying child is demanding attention 24 hours a day. Becoming a parent is a ‘learn on the job’ scenario; no textbook is going to prepare you. There are a billion business books you can read on how to build a successful venture. Ultimately it doesn’t matter how much you plan. The only thing you can anticipate with 100% certainty is that you won’t have any idea what you’re doing until you’re actually doing it. Mums, dads, entrepreneurs, does this sound familiar?
People will give you their opinion
Getting help as a new parent can be a blessing. Family members and friends will weigh in on how to feed, clothe, bathe and handle a new bundle of joy. This can become a major source of irritation. Similarly, when you build a new business, people will give you their advice whether you ask for it or not. Some advice will be useful and some won’t. Surround yourself with the right people who will not only give you valuable input but will also encourage you, motivate you and boost you with their positivity, knowledge and wisdom.
You’re going to have to deal with smelly situations
There is not a parent on the planet that hasn’t been shocked at how much stinky stuff they have to contend with in the early days with a newborn. It’s smelly, runny, seemingly never ending and it goes everywhere. Parents quickly learn how to change nappies like ninjas and wipe up like wizards. Entrepreneurs have stinky stuff flying at them from all angles in the start up phase. Lots of cleaning up needs to be done as things go wrong or problems emerge. ‘Spillages’ can always be mopped up. Some of the most successful business owners in the world credit their success to being able to deal with “crap”.
There is no day off
Having a baby is not a Monday to Friday gig. It continues for the whole weekend. New business owners will spend every waking hour on their business. That means working into the evening and all weekend. You have day and night shifts. The hourly rate of pay for those in start up would probably be well below minimum wage, but the rewards are priceless.
There are times you will cry
Having a baby is hard work. Most new parents will admit to times when they felt so utterly overwhelmed and exhausted that they crumbled. It can be one of the most stressful experiences a human being can endure. This stress can trigger serious health issues if not taken care of. There are also times in business where you will feel so broken and plagued by self-doubt that you will want to give up. You will cry, A LOT, and that’s ok. Every business owner goes through this and you are not alone. Connect with great people and reach out for help. Sometimes you just need a positive word from one person to clear the clouds, dry the tears and get you back on track.
The reward is worth the pain
Babies may be tiny little terrors that demand time, make a mess and drive new mums and dads crazy, but their development is magical. It makes hearts burst with a love so strong, parents can barely articulate it. The first smile, the first word, the first step…these are all milestone moments that stimulate joy in parents. They are significant reminders that say, “Hey, you’re doing a great job – Keep going!”.
As start up businesses grow, the same kind of magic is felt as significant moments occur. The first order, a new client, hiring more staff, expanding overseas…these are all signs of achievement. Success will come and it will make the pain worth it. Hang in there.
Shall we go for baby No.2?
In the first years of infancy, it is not just a baby that grows. Parents grow too. They develop new skills that assist with the development of new life – what skill could be more precious than that? They learn how to listen, care, cooperate, stay calm and be patient. As time goes by, a rhythm is established and the new family unit starts to fire on all cylinders. It’s at this time that a common question is often raised – “Shall we try for No.2”?
With time, new businesses become established and as they grow, their owners grow too. They develop an incredible skill set that includes courage, resilience, insight and ambition. Inspiring business leaders that achieve success rarely stop. They often have another ‘baby’ and start business No.2. Alternatively they use their skills to help and mentor someone who is still in the early stages of infancy with their own business baby.
No matter where success takes you, or what you go on to achieve, you are likely to look at your business the same way a parent looks at their baby, with nothing but pride, adoration and love. I know I do and I hope that passion will be evident to any user of the Pappyon platform.