In the last couple of days I have become an auntie and it got me thinking about how similar the early years of a child and the early years of a business are.
When a child is born, sensible parents involve professionals to ensure the birth goes smoothly, but fairly quickly it becomes obvious, once the baby has arrived, that the ball is very much in their court. They have the sleepless nights, the relentless duties of feeding, nappy changing and burping, and the endless worry that they are doing things wrongly. However, there is help out there from family and professionals if asked for.
New business owners are the same. They may start by getting some financial help from their bank (although less so in recent times!) and advice from organisations such as Business Link, but very soon they are past the excitement of the business launch. Within a year they are often bogged down by long work days, the huge list of jobs to be done, and the endless worry that they are doing things wrongly! But there is professional help out there, if looked for.
For the stay-at-home parent life can be insular and lonely. The same is true of the business owner. However, for both there are networks of people going through exactly the same teething pains – it’s just a case of finding the right support network to tap into.
As their children grow, parents start to feel they are losing control of their child’s development, as external forces exert more and more influence over their offspring. At the start the parent has almost complete control over the environments their children are exposed to. But once they start school friends, teachers and the outside world in general are increasingly significant influences.
The same is true in growing businesses. At the start, when the business owner is the only person working in the business, he/she has control over every aspect of company policy. But as the business grows and employees and advisors come on board, the business owner may start to feel that they haven’t got the same level of control they once had – and this scares them.
However, in both scenarios having a set of clear principles and values can be invaluable. Children may be exposed to lots of influences outside of the family, but if parents have instilled a clear set of values that can help their children make informed decisions, they can be confident they have given their children the best start they can. Similarly a company which has a robust and clear set of values, and which is driven by a common purpose, is well placed to tackle the day to day issues thrown at it by the outside world.