Being a first time entrepreneur is a lot like being a first time parent. You are excited and awed by what you are getting into, but aren't sure if you really have any idea about what the heck you are doing!
You may read articles and books, even attend seminars and classes, but you still realize you are embarking on a journey during which you will encounter many obstacles and are not sure what the final destination will be. I've been through both situations, so I appreciate the “Thrills & Chills’ of first time parenting and entrepreneuring.
When your first child is on the way you find yourself planning out an entire future for them, which is somewhat based on avoiding your failures and achieving successes you didn't. As you write out your Business Plan for your new endeavor you do the same thing. In both cases hope triumphs over reality.
When you launch your enterprise you quickly find it wants to go in uncharted directions. The ‘mold’ you built for it doesn't fit and external forces pull it in different directions. You then revise your plan and head for a new destination. Anyone who has been a parent knows full well that your children never, ever follow the path you had ‘mapped’ for them. Your future sports star turns into a biologist; your future prima ballerina turns into a horse trainer. Oh well, as long as they are happy!
Along the way you find your journey is interrupted by moments of unparalleled joy and sheer terror. You land your first big client; your major client goes bankrupt – the one whose monthly checks were keeping you afloat. Your child wins a big competition; your child breaks away from your grip and runs into traffic. We've all been there.
As your business and children grow they continually evolve. Things that were the hottest thing ever fade into oblivion, while new opportunities open doors to previously unknown territories. Our resolve is constantly tested – can we change directions on a dime; will we be able to accept and come to appreciate the new direction?
Does this mean that if you've been a parent you can be an entrepreneur, or the reverse? Well, no. Not that this stops people in either category from trying the other. Of the two, being a ‘successful’ parent may be more difficult than achieving entrepreneurial success, and, no matter what, is certainly more rewarding. However, the irony is that we think that parenting is something anyone can do without a second thought, while we consider entrepreneurs as a special ‘breed’ above most mere mortals.
Yes, you do need to have a higher degree of risk tolerance to embark on an entrepreneurial endeavor, but the most critical factor is the passion to see your ‘thing’ through no matter what obstacles are thrown in your path. Most, if not all, parents put their kids’ needs before their own and will move heaven and earth to enable their children to realize whatever dreams they have. So, again, parents and entrepreneurs share important qualities.
Being a parent doesn't seem to be an entrepreneurial endeavor, but it is! You are ‘investing’ a major portion of your life toward the success of your child. More often than not there is more than one child, so the parent is actually involved simultaneously in multiple entrepreneurial endeavors.
Entrepreneurs don’t consider themselves as parents, but they are! You have to conceive, give birth to, provide total early-stage developmental support, foster ongoing growth, and, the hardest part, know when to let go of your enterprise. Isn't what we do as parents with our children? How many times have you heard about an entrepreneur who is having trouble with ‘letting go’ of the company or its day-to-day operations, because “it’s his baby!” See, this similarity between parents and entrepreneurs is already well entrenched in our minds.
Every parent can appreciate that it is easy to love and hate your kids at the same time. Just as every entrepreneur loves their business, but hates the crap they have to constantly deal with.
So, is there a moral to this story? Well, perhaps its, if you are a parent and considering jumping into the entrepreneurial game, but are not sure if you can cut it; relax just use all those tough lessons you learned from ‘building & launching’ your kids and you’re on your way!
The reverse (an entrepreneur considering having children) is also somewhat true. However, don’t EVER lose sight of the fact that, unless you end your life in the rarefied air of Bezos, Musk, Gates, Jobs and a tiny handful of others, what you leave on this Earth will be passed on through your children. Don’t lose sight of what your priorities should be!