Running a Business is a Lot like Parenting
No we don't mean your employees are like babies; but there really are ways that running a business is like parenting. There are many parallels between the two and since many business owners are also parents, it can help in both departments to take a look at these parallels. Some references have already been made to parenting like you would run a business. You need goals and objectives, a purpose and mission statement, rules and expectations and of course, an evaluation process. However, it's not as often that we look at how being a parent can help us be a better business person.
The Start-Up Venture
Start-ups and being a parent are both complex, confusing and just crazy most of the time. You can look at your start-up like having a new baby in the house. He cries and we don't always know what those cries mean. We have to play guessing games and do the process of elimination to sort out whether or not it's a wet diaper or a tummy ache. But as time goes on, we get through the growing pains and we begin to build intuition about our businesses. We know what those cries signal and quite often, we're able to prevent a potential problem before it gets to that stage with proper maintenance. A start-up also comes with many unexpected surprises- often good and bad. It's hectic and chaotic while also being exciting and invigorating. You want to give your start-up as much of your attention as possible and you want to ensure that you nurture it in the beginning so that it can grow strong and confident. You can't be in all places at once but tracking tools and accountability software can be very helpful in bridging the gap here.
If you are an entrepreneur, you are a literal One-Man-Show. You probably see opportunities at every corner and you likely take risks. This also means you are constantly thinking like a businessperson. That family meeting at the local restaurant might just be a great opportunity to network about your new venture. There could be a story or an angle hidden in that empty lot up for sale downtown. Your cousin's neighbor might be looking for someone who does exactly what you do. It's always going... going... going! You might feel like that soccer mom carpooling after homework tutoring and before filling your daily role as a gourmet short order cook for your family of picky eaters. There's always something to do and you must either delegate or do it yourself. Where do you find the time to sleep? This is where planning and tracking come in. Some entrepreneurs don't realize they need to treat their own lives like small jobs to delegate, organize and track. When you know where you are spending your time, you can see how you are spending your time and this will help you find ways to be more productive.
The Business Head
When you run a business- whether you have 1 or 100 employees- there is a lot to keep up with. It's much like being a parent; you have to wear many hats and fulfill several different roles. While you cannot do everything yourself, you have the very important task of making sure you hire the right people to do the job and then you also have to ensure they are doing the job you hired them for correctly and on time. We can look at this a lot like a parent making sure their children are doing homework, chores and other responsibilities properly. Sometimes when your employees get off track, waste time or are not being as productive as you would like, it's time to evaluate whether or not you have something to do with this. If as a parent you have a bratty kid, is the reason partly your fault? Does your child have an underlying issue or disorder causing him to be disobedient, or have you failed to provide certain measures and lay the proper guidelines? As business owners, we have to accept some level of responsibility when things don't go as we planned. This is where project planning and accountability become important. You also need to make sure you are giving your employees all the tools they need for success.
Accountability and Project Planning
As a parent, do you just tell your child to clean her room and then never look at it again for weeks upon weeks to see if it's clean? If you have done this before then you probably know what kind of outcome you can expect. Unless your child is an unusually clean and organized personality (which some are), there is a very good chance you are going to find disaster. So why is it we think in business we don't have to hold our employees accountable or that somehow, holding them accountable to their job duties is being the "bad guy"? This is all part of the evaluation process we talked about previously. You need to assess the situation, see what work is being done and when and by whom and then plan for the best productivity from your team. This is when a quality service like Worksnaps comes into play. Honestly, it's great to have this running in the background when you're working with partners to see where each of you are in a project or to keep an eye on the tasks of employees. Even the self-employed can benefit and find personal accountability from tracking hours. See how many hours you spend working and how much you are getting done during those hours. This is a proven method of increasing productivity. Spend less time working and more time actually completing objectives. You can track time and work for yourself, partners or employees. You can also get project details, real-time view of who you're working with and what they are doing at the current moment, manage multiple projects and accounts and more. You'll soon be wishing there was a program that could do all of this in your parenting world.
What are some ways you think running a business is like being a parent?