For Mother’s Day this year our family spent a fun the day at the beach. It was a warm, sunny day so many other families were also there strolling in the sand. As I looked around, I saw moms changing diapers, chasing toddlers and playing frisbee with their teenagers. It struck me how good parenting is constant even if the specifics of the job description changes over time. Obviously, the immediate needs of a 3 year old are very different from those of a 13 year old, but the fundamentals do not change over time. Kid of all ages need love and guidance to thrive. They need to be nurtured.
If you are a parent, you want your children to grow up to be happy, healthy and successful adults. If you are business owner, you want the same things for your business. As entrepreneurs we often share that maternal instinct towards our businesses. Not only are our businesses birthed by us, but more often than not, they are also physical manifestations of who we are. They are born out of love and passion. The success and well being of our businesses feels directly tied to our own personal sense of well-being and happiness. It is a high stakes proposition. With all this on the line, it is crucial we give our businesses the care needed to allow them to grow and prosper. So what does good nurturing look like?
Here are some lessons I’ve learned as a parent that can help your business thrive.
1. Pay Attention. As a parent it is easy to get distracted by your to-do list. You need to make the school lunches, get your kid to football practice and make sure your daughter’s tights are clean for ballet. In all this effort to keep the family running, you sometimes lose focus of more important issues. Are you really present with you child? Do they feel heard? Do they feel like they can talk to you about deeper feelings, or are you too distracted? How about your business? Are you paying attention to cues customers are giving you? Do they feel cared for? Are you missing consistent feedback? Are you on top of your finances? If you are not paying attention, things can start to slip away from you and before you know it, you have a real problem.
2. Don’t be afraid to use discipline. No one likes to be the bad guy, but one of the most loving things you can do for your child is give them consistent discipline. Not only does this keep them safe, it also helps them understand the boundaries. You need discipline within your business as well. You need to be disciplined in your work. Show up, stay focused, make a schedule and stick to that schedule. This is especially important if you work from home. Set your boundaries. How many hours a week are you WILLING to work? How much of your life will you allow your business to take up? How much of your business are you willing to let your life take up!
3. Be a good role model. If you show your kids you can handle frustrating feelings without exploding, eventually they will learn how to do that as well. If you treat your kids with respect, they will treat you with respect in return. If you want clients or colleagues to treat you like a highly competent professional worthy of demanding high fees for your services, then you need to model that behavior. People treat you the way you show them you want to be treated, not the way you demand it with your words.
4. Practice good self-care. Raising as family takes a lot of energy. No matter how old your kids are it seems you are always on the go doing something for somebody. It can feel that way with your business as well. If you want to be at the top of your game, getting all the clients you want, creating killer packages, promoting your services with enthusiasm, you better be energized. If you are not nurturing yourself, there is no way you can nurture your business. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and eating a well-balanced diet. You also need some downtime to recharge. All work and no play makes Mommy very, very cranky.
We love our kids and we love our businesses. Both need to be nurtured to grow and prosper. It can be a lot of work, but as you know, the rewards of a job well done are immeasurable.