7 Parenting Skills To Make Your Business Successful
As the mother of two children, I have only just begun my parenting journey. But in the short time I've been a mom, home manager and business owner, I have noticed several parallels between raising a child and raising a business.
Doing both full-time as I am is a challenge. However, the similarities between my human children and my business ones are striking, and I use them to my advantage. Here are some tips to help you integrate home and business while also raising kids and profits.
1. Choose Friends Carefully. I monitor my kids' friendships carefully to encourage the friendships I approve of and discourage the ones I disapprove of. Far from being an obnoxious helicoper parent, I am simply recognizing that not all influences on my children are good. As a parent, I have a responsibility to manage worldly influences for my kids' maximum benefit. If I see my son playing with a child who is using foul language or bullying others, I will probably remove him from the situation. I am always on guard to nurture and protect.
It's the same in business. Interacting with other Indie Business owners is a necessary part of owning and managing a successful business. However, not all interactions are created equal. Sometimes, we have to unsubscribe from toxic discussion groups, or turn away new business that promises short term benefits that may be more trouble than they're worth. Healthy businesses maintain healthy relationships.
Nurture relationships that are good for your business. Minimize or eliminate ones that are not.
2. Don't Rush A Good Thing. It seems like every day, my 5-year old daughter tells me that she wants to be grown up. To her, the growth process is pure torture. Why can't she grow up now and be like some of the older girls she sees at church or in at the shopping mall? The answer of course is that it takes time to mature into a responsible, healthy adult. Between now and her 18th birthday, she will live through countless experiences that will provide her with the skills she needs to build a successful life of her own. If this process is rushed, she will be ill-prepared for life as an adult.
It's the same in business. We see mature Indie Business owners who are doing all the things we've wanted to do for years, and we want to do it too. And now. But like our kids, we must learn the ropes before we try to climb them.
Discipline yourself to grow slowly and intentionally so you are not swept away with the tide.
3. Celebrate Milestones. While dining out recently, the hostess gave me some Wikki Stix, craft materials made out of sticky wax and yarn (go figure) to help occupy my kids while our meal was being prepared. My son "decorated" his fork like a pirate sword and my daughter made bracelets and ear rings. They were such simple items, but my kids associated them with high end works of art. I praised them to high heaven for being so creative and inventive.
It's the same in business. High achieving businesses do well because they are managed by people who celebrate and maximize each milestone in the business lifecycle. Whether it's a new lucrative account or a better phone service provider, each milestone is recognized for the contribution it makes to the overall business. Smart Indies know that the big picture is composed of millions of tiny details that don't look very impressive in and of themselves.
Remember that even the smallest steps contribute to increased profit and productivity, and a more enjoyable experience for you and your customers.
4. Set High Standards. It's amazing what chiildren will do when we communicate high expectations and give them credit for being capable. Each of my kids started performing household chores at age 2 — simple things like putting out recycles or pouring dishwashing liquid into the dish washer — with hands on support of course. We slowly expand their responsibilities as they grow, setting the bar as high as possible based on each one's personality, talents and gifts, and on what needs to be done around the house. They know we expect them to excel and take initiative in all areas of life, including at home.
It's the same in business. Set the bar as high as possible given your own talents and capabilities. This is not always easy as it requires leaving your comfort zone, and that can be scary for some. On the other hand, it's even scarier to contemplate that if you don't aim high, someone else will. And when that happens, it's bye-bye business!
Let your reach always exceed your grasp.
5. Manage Time Well. When my daughter comes home from kindergarden each day, I teach her how to make good use of the hours left before bedtime. That's about 5 hours, during which time we must accomplish at least 5 things: after school snack, quiet time, homework, dinner and bath time. No day is like another and sometimes we add in things like grocery shopping or visiting a friend. But we have to get at least those 5 things accomplished before going to sleep. To do this, our routine allocates a certain time frame to each activity. In this way, she learns that time is a valuable commodity that must be invested, not spent. She's learning to look at what she must do, evaluate how much time she has to do it, and then create a plan to make it happen. If she does not learn how to manage time well, then time will end up managing her.
It's the same in business. If you don't manage your business, your business will manage you. To prevent this, every segment of the work day must be structured to accomplish specific purposes. All businesses have the same 24 hours daily, but how those hours are invested differs from business to business. If certain time frames are set aside to accomplish certain tasks, nothing slips through the cracks and you stay accountable, especially with respect to the things you really hate to do. Quarterly taxes anyone?
Wise time management eliminates crisis style business management.
6. Be Proactive. I teach my children not to let life happen to them because if they do, a victim mentality will soon develop. Of course some children are true victims of circumstance, but I'm not talking about them. All other things being equal, a parent must encourage a child to create desired situations, not wait for them to fall down out of the sky. Opportunity doesn't knock, it waits for prepared people to take advantage of it.
It's the same in business. Every challenge must be met with vigor and tenacity. Otherwise, business will eat you up and spit you out. Sitting around hoping people visit your website is not being proactive. Attending a seminar on search engine optimization or website design is. The surest way to accomplish nothing is to do nothing.
Meet each challenge head-on, always aiming for and expecting a blessing.
7. Be Grateful. I have read that studies show that people with grateful hearts experience less stress and depression than people who see only the hole and never the donut. Life throws me a respectable number of curve balls, but I still try never to miss an opportunity to tell my children that the glass is always as full as we make it, no more and no less.
It's the same in business. As Indie Business leaders, we acknowledge that technology has made our lifestyles possible where they were impossible just a few short years ago. We can exit the traditional work force and create our own opportunities. In my own family, we are even thankful for a layoff that cut our income by 60% a few years ago because it allowed us to work together in a business that lets us bring home the bacon while we are home with our kids. It's not the easiest lifestyle, but it works for us and we are grateful for that.
Be thankful for the talents, passions, technology, friends, business colleagues and everything else that allow you to manifest your gifts in a way that also provides for you and your family.
Now it's your turn. What similarities have you noticed between raising your business and raising your kids? Do you see the same synergies I see? Feel free to share your experiences for the benefit of all.