Are You a Good Mother to Your Business? Lessons for Entrepreneurs - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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Are You a Good Mother to Your Business? Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Sep 24, 2014


Baby Ayaan was babbling away on a play mat. His eyes were trained on his mother, but mummy was busy, she had nappies to wash, food to mash, a home to run... she didn't turn to listen and respond.

"He's calling you I think, aren't you going to go to him?" I asked.

"He's always saying something. But I'm too busy to go to him all the time. I'm listening though. When he needs something he'll cry, and I'll run to him."

Made sense to both of us at the time. But then I read about some latest research in the news.

Apparently, when a baby starts babbling, and the mother looks at him, tries to decode the goo goo gaa gaa, and talks back to him in a real conversation, the baby starts developing much faster. The reverse then applies, too. If you don't respond the baby's development is delayed.

I've heard the same argument used elsewhere.

My serial entrepreneur friend told me about his experience with starting businesses.

"Your business is your baby. In its infant stages, you gotta respond to every tiny little hiccup with great attention. Otherwise those little issues will snowball into big disasters"

Source: schatzyo /Shutterstock

So while you, dear entrepreneur, focus on bigger operational challenges, be a good mother and make sure your business is not babbling about any of the below issues that can escalate into disasters, and stunt growth.

It takes a village to raise a business

A mother needs help and support to raise a child - a partner, grandparents, siblings, and hired help. So also a business requires a good team to support its growth.

As a new business owner you might try to do everything yourself, but don't. You may be courageous and a pioneering genius, but you can't be good at everything. So surround yourself with a solid team who will work with you for success.

On your team, you need people who can complement your skills. If, for example, you are a whiz at marketing but you are really bad with finances, get someone on board who can help you take care of finances.

What you don't need, however, however, is some financial genius, who can't work well with you. So don't go out and hire someone just because he looks like a rockstar on paper. When a business is young, one job skill is more important than any other - teamwork.

Each member of the team needs to contribute in every possible way - you need someone who can align with your vision, work at inconvenient hours, take on multiple roles, and be flexible to adopt your style.

So if you end up with a rockstar who doesn't gel with you, your values, and the culture you are trying to develop in your company, then he can be more a waste of resources than a productive member of the village.

Focus on creating a balanced, supportive team that will support your goals and help you raise your baby to great heights.

Get good habits in place

Early in a child's life, if a steady routine is set, as the child grows it's easier to inculcate good habits. Early to bed, early to rise, eat at the dinner table, etc. Otherwise you become one of those frazzled-looking mothers who is always running after the baby with food in her hand saying, "please eat something beta."

Early in the life of a business it is easy to get into the habit of just getting things done as they come. The website has an issue, let's run and fix it. An order came in, let's respond on a case-by-case basis.

These issues may seem fine at the beginning if you are starting small. But as you grow, things start getting out of hand and you will end up firefighting all the time.

If you're thinking, 'Let's just get this show on the road. We will get organized later,' then think again. Your life and your growth will be much smoother if, from the beginning, you take the pains start putting systems and processes in place.

This may not seem like the most exciting, or most important, part of your job but remember Henry Ford? Everyone does. Because his production process, the assembly line, revolutionized the manufacturing industry.

Process is that important - it can be make or break. And if you get organized, you won't have to micro-manage each step of the process, and are free to focus on bigger issues, such as steering the company skywards.

Good habits matter, so get organized, and grow without hurdles.

Keeping pace with the world

Even before giving birth a mother starts preparing by learning everything she can. As the baby grows she needs to stay abreast with the development stages, and respond accordingly.

So also, when starting a business due-diligence is essential. But where many businesses falter is keeping up with diligence after the business is launched.

Our context is changing rapidly, the market is fluid, and technology often becomes outdated before you've even had the chance to 'update your status'.

When I was taking a class on entrepreneurship, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania told us about a product he had developed: an image search technology where big brands paid him big bucks to search the Internet for unauthorized use of their logos, so they could take legal action.

When Google launched their new Image Search tool, suddenly his product became completely obsolete, because brands could now do what they were paying him to do, for free.

He would have had to shut down overnight. But he did not. Because he had his finger on the pulse, and had developed various related services to keep himself valuable and ahead of the curve.

Keep your ear tuned to what's going on around you. If you think 'Okay I have a product now, it's fine as it is, let's just try to sell it', your product will stagnate over time.

Whether it's your marketing strategy, your technology or your philosophy, if you're not moving ahead, you're falling behind.

You need to keep changing, developing, innovating, to keep pace. The world keeps moving, and you must too.

Developing the company's culture

The care with which a child is raised is seen as contributing to his character. Whether a child is well-behaved and happy, or rude and sullen, fingers will be pointed to the 'mother'. Because we believe that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

This is true of how a company's personality develops as well.

At the very beginning of a company's life the culture begins to form. From the first person, or first group of people who give birth to the idea, the culture starts to spread and take on a life of its own, outside of your control.

But just like there are differing views about parenting, there are major debates about company culture... and often leaders will have completely contradictory ideas about this fascinating subject.

Entrepreneurs I've talked to, my own colleagues, and in fact my brothers and father don't even agree on this subject, in spite of the fact that they run the same business.

Everyone agrees on one thing though - that this is a very important part of success.

And yet, when people are starting out, they rarely give any thought to the kind of culture they are creating.

So here's the all-important question: How to create a culture that represents you, makes you proud and takes you to success?

As you wait for my next letter to explore this question, please write in to tell me about the companies you have worked with, and how the culture has impacted you.

Send me your thoughts, and stay tuned for mine coming up on Friday...


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4 Responses to "Are You a Good Mother to Your Business? Lessons for Entrepreneurs"


25 Sep, 2014

very interesting and an apt comparison.This is my third enterprise that i have set up and nurtured.You have given very valuable suggestions.I am sure they will help and guide new entrepreneurs.I must congratulate and thank you for your excellent writings.


24 Sep, 2014

Dear Anisa, It is a very good advise to mothers and entrepreneurs. As regards the culture and values in various organisations that I have worked in these five decades, l have experienced a great lack of real culture and values which could be cultivated by existing and new entrepteneurs.


24 Sep, 2014

Very helpful. One of the commom mistakes i've observed during start-up is that you try to do all by your self which eventually kind-off real hurdle when you want to scale up. Putting Systems and Process in place right from the beginning is very important with gives a lot of independence and less micro-management.


24 Sep, 2014



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