When I first started my business, I had no idea how much it would resemble the experience of motherhood. Don’t believe me? Let me count the ways…
Sleeplessness. Anxiety. Feelings of unworthiness and uncertainty. Night sweats. I consumed copious amounts of coffee. I sought outside validation that I was, in fact, OK. I had a constant fear of people calling my ‘baby’ ugly. What if no one liked her? What if I didn’t like her?
Sure. You don’t have breast pain, a sore crotch and you can walk normally immediately after birthing your business. Otherwise, you’ll feel a lot of the same things. The feeling of putting yourself out there either in the form of a human being or your deepest thoughts and passions is a scary proposition. Like your heart walking around outside of you. You want to protect it, but encourage its growth. Honor it, but somehow ‘manage’ it.
Each day is chock full of trial and error. Emotional ups and downs. Just like in motherhood, in the early stages of my business, I remember feeling, “You really want to pay ME to help you?” much like I thought “You’re seriously giving ME this baby to take home?” after being told I could leave the hospital. I felt unequipped, unprepared, and a little tripped out.
In motherhood, we’re constantly told how to do things. This advice, solicited or otherwise, comes from all sorts of sources; well intentioned friends, blog articles on the internet and even our own family. It’s uncanny how the exact same thing happens when you start a business.
While researching best practices and knowing when to outsource is certainly advisable in business, no one will be there to make decisions for you. You have to trust your gut and sometimes that requires telling other people and their opinions to take a hike.
You know how you just get your baby on a schedule and suddenly, they stop sleeping through the night? Or they start teething and everything gets thrown off? Babies change so much in that first year, and lo and behold, so did my business.
When I first started my business, I had a specific target audience in mind. As people started to follow what I wrote, I realized I served a different demographic.
My audience provided me with cues that I needed to listen to, much like a baby will give you cues as to what they need. It may not be what you envisioned or imagined, but you need to pay attention to those cues and adapt accordingly.
Motherhood or entrepreneurship.
People want to wait until they’re ‘ready’. They somehow think some magical, perfect timing will descend upon them and God will flash a neon sign screaming “Jump now! You’re ready!” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
When you become a mom, your circle of friends often changes. It’s not that you don’t remain friends with certain people, but your priorities change and so do those relationships.
Oddly, this also can happen when you start a new business. Some people get it. Others don’t. Some people support you. Others think you’re crazy. Your true friends will emerge when you take on a new venture.
Just remember, whether raising kids or building a business, other people’s opinions are just that. Opinions. The only carry weight if you want them to.
There were times I laughed and times I cried. Times I wondered what the hell I’d gotten myself into and times I wondered what took me so long to jump. Times I questioned if this was what I ought to be doing and times I felt completely aligned with who I am and what I believe in.
If that doesn’t sound like motherhood, I don’t know what does.
I can unequivocally say that I’ve grown more as a person and have never been as challenged to strive to meet my full potential as a person because of being my own boss.
And just like with motherhood, I believe the journey will just keep on getting sweeter.