Effective business owners don't only learn about business from successful businesspeople, industry experts and coaches—they also use their daily experiences as learning tools. It's all part of the job of being an entrepreneur.
So it only makes sense that more than one business owner has likened the experience of owning a business to parenthood in terms of intensity and responsibility. It's easy (if not obvious) to apply the best practices of raising a child to how you raise your profits.
"You cannot be your child's buddy."—Christos Efessiou, author of CDO: Chief Daddy Officer
I'm sure you've heard this one before. Although adult friendships with your children are great, as a parent, your job is to be a parent first, a friend second. This advice applies directly to your role as leader of your company. If you try too hard to be a "buddy boss," your team won't respect your authority and it will be hard to make decisions that might make some employees unhappy. Keep your distance and your authority intact.
"Get comfortable with 'good enough.' "—Adelaide Lancaster, co-author of Mom, Incorporated
Whether it's the cleanliness of your house, your allotment of "me" time or your ability to stay on schedule, being a parent means lowering your standards—which isn't the same thing as having low standards. For example, "100 percent customer satisfaction" is a myth. There will always be a few customers who will never be satisfied because they don't want to be. It's better to focus on the one or two points where you're at the head of the class, then settle for B+ marks on everything else.
"The biggest influence on how your kids turn out is your parenting, not how many kids you have."—Susan Newman, a social psychologist specializing in parenting
Parents and entrepreneurs alike fall for this belief: that focusing obsessively on one detail will guarantee that all the other parts of an incredibly complex situation fall properly into place. Newman's advice reminds us to pull our focus back so we're looking at the big picture, the long game.
"America's favorite pastime is not baseball but giving unasked-for advice to new parents." —Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block
This is probably true, but "giving unasked-for advice to friends who run a business" is in strong competition for the number-one spot. The mark of a truly gifted entrepreneur is to surround themselves with smart people and listen to their advice, but to understand that ultimately nobody is as invested in your success as you are. So take in those words of wisdom, but know when to ignore the well-meaning, but ineffectual, advice of your friends, family and staff.
"Having children is like living in a frat house—nobody sleeps, everything's broken, and there's a lot of throwing up."—Ray Romano, comedian
Okay, so a stand-up comic isn't exactly a parenting "expert," but this line perfectly underscores the state of chaos that is much of parenting—and of running even a well-organized company. Things go wrong on a daily basis, badly wrong at least once each quarter. Understanding that this is true—and that it doesn't mean you're bad at your job as a parent or a business leader—will help you stay confident and focused.
What is your favorite piece of parenting advice—given or received by you—that you apply to running your business? Share it with us in the comments below.
Jason Brick has contributed more than 2,000 blog and magazine articles to local, regional and national publications and speaks regularly at writing and business conferences. You can find out more about Jason at www.brickcommajason.com.
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