My two babies: being a parent and running a business
Someone in this world calls me Mummy (well not quite yet, she is only one year old). Being Rosie’s Mummy is the most wonderful and most important role of my life. And the toughest. I also have a business – a new business. People refer to it as my other baby, and they’re right.
Becoming a parent and starting a business are similar experiences.
1. Sleepless nights
It is a given that when you become a mother, you are never going to sleep again. Never, ever. The same thing happens when you start a business. They both need your attention, your time, your patience… and, of course, you worry about them at all times. People ask me if I sleep when she sleeps, I don’t. When she naps, I go back to my desk and work. There is always work to do. I will sleep when Rosie is an adult and when my business is where it needs to be, i.e. the successful children’s publishing house that I know it can be. Slumber is over rated anyway, isn’t it?!
2. If I don’t do it, who will?
My daughter Rosie is glued to me at all times. She is a mummy’s girl and although she has an amazing dad and we both have supportive families, sometimes she just wants me and no one else will do. My business is the same. It needs me all the time and delegating is tough when you have nobody to delegate to! You have to be a master of all trades to run a startup. If I’m not working, the business isn’t working. It is normal to be stretched in the early days of a new business and it is often easier to do things yourself rather than explain what you need done to somebody else. Prioritisation is the key! My daily to do list is my best friend.
3. Social life
Obviously, I mean the lack of of a social life. Although I wouldn’t say that I have no social life, I would say that it is a whole new social life. Two new worlds of socialising have opened up for me: with Rosie I see my friends much more in the daytime, which is lovely, and since starting a business I have been exposed to a huge secret start up world and culture. You learn a new start up language, eat start up food and suddenly you have new idols and new friends. It really is an adventure.
4. The future
The worry! I worry about Rosie all day. Most of the time it is sweating the small stuff: her next bath, what I have in the fridge, if she’s getting a varied diet, if she’ll behave for my mum when I go that meeting… On top of that, I worry about the world. I am not just worried about my little bubble, but the whole world. I feel so vulnerable in it. I want the world to be a better place for Rosie. I worry about pollution, waste, war, child and animal rights much more now than I did before. The future needs to be carefully planned when you have a child, Mick and I must select schools, save up, look ahead.
That is similar to the worry and planning involved in a business. I worry about the business every second; again, most of the time it is the small stuff, but I worry nonetheless. The future is a little hazy in the startup world, I plan as much as I can, but every day there is a new opportunity, or a new disaster to fix. So my plan is to plan as much as I can!
My advice to a new start up is to try to embrace the unknown. It is exciting to steer your business in your chosen direction, but there are icebergs, storms and sharks waiting for you. Plain sailing it ain’t. But there are also sandy beaches, calm seas and glorious sunshine ahead.
Love, love, love! As the Beatles said, “All you need is love.” This song also has some other inspirational messages, they could be words of encouragement to new mums or to new businesses:
There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say, but you can learn
How to play the game
Nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do, but you can learn
How to be you in time
OK, it isn’t easy. You’ll need a lot more than love, but it is a good place to start. I love being a mother. I could not love my daughter more. She fills me and all those around her with so much love. You also need to love your startup, which I do. It is a childhood dream to do this – to write children’s books. Like a baby it can be challenging, tiring and all-consuming. Nevertheless, you need to be passionate about it and to believe in it. If you don’t believe in it, who will? Without love, you cannot survive in this start up world or in the parent world. No, it is not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.