Three Ps I learnt from parenting and starting a business
Both being a parent and starting a business can feel like a total rollercoaster.
They're both extremely hard work, yet rewarding. There is so much to think about, a never-ending list of things to do, pressures to worry about and mountains of information to take in, but there are three things I have come to understand you need in both parenting and starting a business: Patience, Perspective and Perseverance.
(Warning: This blog is littered with alliteration.)
Something I have to admit, I have very little of. For people like me, this one takes practice (yes, another P which is particularly useful).
Parenting: Babies don't seem to get that you do have other things to do with your life, like quickly nipping to the loo after hours of holding them in your hours while they need or having a much-needed cup of tea (not exactly big life ambitions but they can feel like a luxury as soon as you have a newborn). Nor do they understand you need to get them fed, dressed and out of the door to make appointments.
But then, why should they? Getting frustrated and impatient only make things worse for everyone when you have a baby, so the only thing to do is take a deep breath (scream into a pillow if you need to), regroup remembering that it's all worth the effort and push on when you're ready.
Business: Unless you're lucky (or should I say happen upon good fortune - I've spoken about 'lucky people' in another blog), success doesn't come easily and quickly. You spend hours thinking, writing, amending, reading, amending again, more thinking and maybe more frenzied, keyboard-hammering amending - and that's all before you've even started telling people about your business and what you do.
The thing to remember is to celebrate the small wins, look back on your progress so far, take that deep breath again and start on the next task with a clear plan and laser focus on your goals.
By perspective, I mean personal perspective - taking time out to just look at you. Not what others are doing and then feeling like you're doing it wrong because you're not doing it the same way.
Parenting: Firstly, I'd like to just give a huge thanks to The Unmumsy Mum for rescuing me in the first few weeks of becoming a mum. There is no doubt she helped me just take a much-need moment, recognise how much hard work this is and that actually, it's OK to admit that not every moment is precious and to be treasured (if you've ever seen a poonami, you know what I'm talking about).
In those moments of screaming episodes, refusal to sleep anywhere else but your chest or crying because you've taken the remote control off them, you just have to remember that as irritating as these things are, they're small fry in the big picture. It's also worth remembering that your child is unique, so when Polly Perfect's little one is trying to walk, mimicking animal sounds and creating art to rival Picasso before your child has even rolled over, don’t sweat it. As you’ll hear many a time, all children develop at different rates and your 'path' with your child is your own.
Business: I have a love-hate relationship with inspirational stories, biogs and quotes. Love them because of course they can be inspirational (obviously). Hate them because they can really make you feel like a loser who's not trying hard enough.
Social media can also be a bit of a frenemy of mine. Love it because it can be conversational, direct and a great source of support (shout out to all the freelancers out there), information and inspiration for content. Hate it because IT.IS.SO.NOISY! And the volume of stuff other people put out there can feel incredibly daunting, confusing and send you off in the wrong direction thinking you need to change everything you're doing.
Again, the thing to remember is what it is that your business needs. And even more importantly, what your target audience needs. Do get to know who your competitors are and what they're doing, by all means. Do admire what they're doing, take in inspiration from others, but take a step back and remember to refocus on you and your customers.
Do yourself a favour if it gets too much and switch off for a little while and go do something else entirely. It will do you way more good to do so.
Connected to patience really, so one I've found difficult to get to grips with at times.
Parenting: There's nothing like having a child to teach you the value of perseverance. More so because you don't really have much of a choice in the matter - you can't just decide to give up. Perseverance counts in parenting: perseverance in trying to get them to sleep in the Moses basket, rather than on you; perseverance in getting a nappy on a wriggly baby; perseverance when attempting to get the bl**dy pram parasol up and in the right position on a blazing sunny day!
It counts because when you get it right it's all been worth it and you realise it probably wasn't that big a deal after all.
Business: This one is a pet peeve of mine as I've worked with businesses who wanted to change tack almost every day (certainly tried my limited patience).
If you have a very clear strategy nailing who you are, who your audience is and what you offer, you really shouldn't need to make big strategic changes to your marketing frequently.
Ok, so when you're starting out, you need to trial, test and tweak of course - that's good sense, but do persevere long enough to know that what you're currently doing is / isn't the right thing. You need to have enough patience to test something thoroughly and learn the outcomes so you can better what you're doing.
You need perseverance in the bucket-load when starting a business as there are many hurdles and hoops to jump over and through and it won't be plain sailing.
Stick with it! You can do it and it will feel amazing when you do!