Bleary-eyed and exhausted, I’m 11 weeks into the most important startup of my life. At 44, I’m a bit older than most of the others in this game, but the timing just seemed right.
Before launching, my partner and I spent 10 months strategizing and organizing. We did our research. We evaluated every possible scenario and we made sure we’d be prepared for whatever would come our way.
We were adequately self-funded. We had the support of our friends and family and we were linked into the local ecosystem. We purchased the necessary equipment and we found the right service providers.
She took a hiatus from her day job. I secured the necessary time as well. Everything was in place. And then we were live…
Pretty much, whatever we thought we knew was wrong. We had grueling days and sleepless nights. There were tears and there were arguments. It was frustrating. But we persevered. When one thing failed, we pivoted. When another thing worked, we did it again. And now, after nearly three months, I’m starting to feel that we’re actually going to be successful.
I’m speaking, of course, about the birth of my son Jack. I gotta say though, building a new business isn’t all that different than building a new life. A lot of principles that apply to one apply to the other…
The main goal with both a company and a baby is to keep it alive. If it doesn’t die, you’re doing something right.
Parenting and entrepreneurship, for the most part, are thankless. And, they seem a lot simpler in our minds than in real life.
You have to be lean, constantly eliminating waste (no, that’s not a poop reference). There’s just not enough time in the day, so you can only do what’s truly necessary.
And you have to be agile. When something isn’t working, you’ve got to try something else. He won’t stop crying, try the 5 S’s. They’re not buying what you’re selling, change the conversation.
Getting along with partners isn’t easy, but once you get into a groove, it’s so much easier than going it alone.
Communicating with stakeholders is essential. In business, if you don’t keep your investors up to speed, they’ll get anxious. With a baby, if you don’t constantly update grandparents, godparents, aunts, and uncles, they’ll get downright ornery.
Patience. Patience. Patience. Burps don’t come with the first back pat and deals don’t come with the first cold call.
Fake it ’til you make it. For the most part, nobody knows what they’re doing in the beginning. You could have a Wharton MBA or 9 nieces and nephews, but once you’re in the trenches, you’re clueless. It’s fine, you’ll figure it out one way or another.
Customers know all. Ask, observe, listen. Even when they can’t talk, they’ll tell you what they want.
Everyone will give you advice. There’s a lot of great wisdom out there, but there’s also a lot of stupidity. Your gut will guide you on how to separate the signals from the noise.
Total failure is much more dire with a child than with a company, but with both, minor failures each day are key to getting to the next level.
When your baby smiles, it’s a good sign. When your clients smile, it’s also a good sign. Those smiles let you know that you’ve done what you need to do and you’ll be able to do it from here on out.
Starting up, whether a company or a human, is hard work. But it’s good work, it’s important work. It’s creating something out of nothing. And, while the challenges seemingly never end, neither do the rewards. And that’s why people keep doing it. Either that or we’re just gluttons for punishment.