How Birthing a Business is the Same as Birthing a Baby
So you might never have given birth to a baby or a business, and if that’s the case then you’re going to find yourself either terrified or saying ‘easy peasy, what’s the big deal?’
If you have given birth to either, then you will definitely understand the pain and pleasures associated with being an entrepreneur and or being a parent.
- Dream Phase
Most people who start a business have been thinking about the idea for a while. The most successful entrepreneurs take up to twelve months to research an industry before launching their business.
Before they start they have a clear idea of who their competitors are, client needs and frustrations, how easy is it to penetrate the market, etc.
Dreaming about kids happens for some people from a very young age; we are, after all, programmed to procreate.
You imagine what you’ll need to get started, what the impact will be on your life. You read books, talk to experts (every person with kids) and maybe even start buying some of the gear, because face it, having a kid is like starting a new sport; it’s expensive!
- The Dirty Work
Once you’ve done your research you should know a bit more about what’s involved and you might feel ready to start up your business.
At this stage you feel like you are going into it with your eyes wide open, and that you are prepared for any eventuality. Let me tell you that surprises and learnings will be the order of the day, but it won’t be for lack of planning.
You will learn every single day and have to adapt, change policies, put in processes and apologise for mistakes; nothing can prepare you for dealing with actual customers, other than dealing with actual customers!
It’s the same with planning a baby. Most people, if you’re anything like me, decide to have a baby and then go about making it. That’s the fun part right? And just like a business, it’s only one tiny idea that sticks and takes hold and grows into a life. You might not know the specifics of how they’re going to turn out, but you can visualise what they will become as they grow up. It often turns out very differently to that, but that’s half the fun.
Once you’re told you’re pregnant you can set about buying all the gear – after all, it’s like starting a new sport. And just about as expensive too. But by then it’s too late to pull out; you’re committed now and have to figure out what’s required.
I remember spending endless hours preparing for the birth, reading books, talking to moms, trying to think through what it was going to be like once that baby was born, but in truth nothing prepared me for the nuclear explosion that went off when those babies (twins) entered my life. Everything changed and it hasn’t been the same since.
- Go Live
Once your business goes live (or your baby is born), you will find yourself awake at the most inhumane hours, feeling like the only person in the world who is awake at 2am wondering what in the world you’ve done to deserve this.
Surround yourself with experts at this stage; doctors if it’s a baby, mentors if it’s a business.
- Don’t try to do everything yourself.
- Do attend classes!
- Don’t think that because you’ve read a few books you’ve got it waxed.
- Go on courses with other parents or entrepreneurs, like the programmes offered by the Bandwidth Barn.
There will be tears, and not only from you, as you push yourself beyond the limits of what you thought possible in the heady days before birth. You thought you were prepared, but there’s a special form of pain that comes from sleep deprivation that will dredge the dregs of your soul, showing your worst side to your partner, your staff and yourself.
Never fear, it doesn’t last forever.
You’re building something here, right? And you’ve heard of trauma bonding? Stockholm Syndrome? All relevant to parents and entrepreneurs. The harder you work for something the more value you attach to it. Mental, right? Whose idea was this anyway!
- Getting Back your Freedom
As your baby and your business grow you’ll find yourself gaining back your freedom.
First you find you can go to a meeting and your staff cope without burning the place down…a scary thought that maybe they don’t need you as much anymore!
As a parent you find you can leave your toddler with granny and they don’t cry for you. You’re able to drink a cappuccino while they play puzzles and you even have time for books or magazines every once in a while.
Before you know it, you’re able to go for a surf during office hours (living the dream) or drop baby with the grandparents for a weekend, while you remember what it felt like to have a life.
Would you change it back if you had the choice? Not for all the money in the world.
About Gaya Schatz
Gaya is the founder of Little Bo Babies, a Cape Town based company that turns children’s drawings into their very own soft toys. “We are in the business of imagination,” says Gaya. “We magically create and preserve precious moments in a child’s life through our ‘handmade memories’”. Gaya believes in community upliftment and employs and trains previously disadvantaged women to sew the handcrafted plush toys that children have drawn. Gaya lives with her husband, Sascha, and their twin girls in Hout Bay, Cape Town.
To contact Gaya from Little Bo Babies:
Call: 071 493 1825