I don’t consider myself to be an entrepreneur, but as a teacher of entrepreneurship I am a strong advocate of developing an entrepreneurial mindset and applying it to whatever else you do in life. As a personal development coach, I consider it my duty to help people become more enterprising with their ‘selves’. And as a parent, I want my kids to get up and figure stuff out, without fear of failure or the unknown.
Working in the Entrepreneurship space for the past couple years while simultaneously working in the parenting space has given me some interesting insights on where parents and entrepreneurs overlap:
1- The Emotional Roller Coaster: The highs and lows are extreme when you first start (a business or a kid), and although the amplitude gets smaller as time passes, the stakes get higher. You just learn how to manage the fear better and to trust yourself more.
2- Agility: You have to be really quick to adapt and modify your ‘strategy’ to the current situation (faulty product/ full blown tantrum in the middle of the mall) no matter what the ‘plan’ was when you started out. You get really good at thinking on your feet and managing disaster with collected thoughts.
3- Experimentation: It doesn’t matter what you know to be true, every start-up/child and situation are different, and although you can be inspired by what worked before (using your personal connections/warm milk before bed) every ‘creation’ calls for a trial-and-error approach and a specific toolkit just for them.
4- Constant Uncertainty: There is no extended period of time where you can relax and let your hair down. You know that if you are going through a period of relative prosperity/calm, there is an angry customer/child, or uncertain market/unrealistic request, etc… that will follow sooner or later.
5- Grit: When the going gets tough, you have to buckle down and keep going. You cannot give yourself the luxury of abandoning ship (neither your stakeholders nor your baby). They are all depending on you. You just have to weather the storm until it’s over.
6- Failure: There will come a time when the inevitable moment of failure is upon you. You’ve read the books (business/parenting), you’ve spoken to mentors/advisors/grandma, you’ve practiced and gained experience, you made plans and calculations and it all still backfires in your face (you’ve exposed a client/you’ve embarrassed your kid). You will feel like the most royal fuck up ever and there’s nothing you can do about it but let it pass.
7- Creativity and Resourcefulness: This is the hallmark of good enterprising behavior. Getting creative to handle your situation (bartering your spare bedroom for a programmer’s time/bartering your iPhone for bathroom alone-time) and relying on the resources you can get your hands on to make things happen your way.
8- Patience and Persistence: Being patient and continuing with your marketing/discipline efforts because you have to believe that one day soon now you will see the fruits of your labor. This comes with an almost spiritual belief that some mysterious force is on your side and will get you through.
9- Networking and connections: These are essential for survival. ‘Nobody does it alone’ is more true in this case (you need another-investor/another-pair-of-hands) than ever before. You clutch at the people in your circle and around to find the support and help you need to make it through and survive, whether it’s getting your product to market or getting your kid to that birthday while you take the other one to the dentist.
10- Gut Instinct: There are those moments where everything in the market and in the books is screaming at you to do one thing (sell equity/get them that ADHD evaluation) but your gut tells you otherwise (hold on for a better offer/your kid is fine and needs an energy outlet) and you decide, against the collective uproar of your surroundings (partners/parents) to go with your gut.
Parenting is one of the most stressful, most rewarding, most exhausting, most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had. The same holds true for entrepreneurship. Pick your poison.