Harold is a wise old carpenter who was working on the stairs in my house this week. To be honest, in his mid-70s he doesn’t seem that old anymore, but Harold is wise.
Over the past 20 years, Harold has supported me in fixing and building things for my businesses and homes. When I asked Harold what I should write about this week, he told me I should write about raising good kids.
“Dave,” he said, “people need help raising their kids too and it’s not so much different than running a business.”
Harold should know. He and his wife Jane successfully raised three happy children who are making a difference in the world.
I think Harold is correct. Here’s why:
Kids and business are usually the result of passion, not planning.
Statistics show that 50 per cent of pregnancies are surprises. It isn’t much different when we look at businesses. Many businesses are the result of the fact that the founder was passionate about a hobby or job and wanted to start a business to fulfil that passion.
Like first-time parents, these business owners really don’t understand what they’re getting themselves in for. Just like some people without kids, they think they know exactly how to run a business until they actually have one of their own.
Parents and business owners are sleep deprived in the early years.
Often first-time parents and business owners are so focused on ensuring that everything is all right that they’re wide awake in the middle of the night.
For most people, it takes three years to get your business, and your kids, to the point where you can get some good nights of sleep.
After three years, you’ll still be woken by crisis and challenges, but by then your business is starting to grow and doesn’t need the same attention it took in the early years.
Be warned, however, that there will be sleepless nights as both the business and the kids get to their teens and beyond.
Raising kids and running a business take discipline and determination.
We can’t have kids or staff showing up whenever they want, doing whatever they please and treating people disrespectfully. If we do, we’ll lose customers and as parents perhaps even access to our children in extreme cases.
It takes determination to ensure that kids are accountable and it takes determination to have a successful business. Both business and parenting require a lot of hard work to get them to the point of self-sufficiency.
Sometimes you have to ask people to leave.
I remember my parents suggesting that when I moved out I shouldn’t plan on moving back anytime soon.
Just as the time will come for your kids to move on, there are times when some customers or employees should move on as well. I’ve had to fire both employees and customers, and often the results were good for everyone involved.
Unfortunately for many people, having that difficult conversation doesn’t happen quickly enough. The result is that we feel stressed and taken advantage of.
Be ready to be shocked.
Nothing ever quite happens the way we plan it when it comes to kids or businesses. Your kids are going to do things that will shock you and fill you with wonder, and your business might not be so different.
Both will give you wonderful surprises that will lift your spirits and at times bring you to tears.
Always remember that kids trump business.
How often have we seen business leaders who have neglected their kids in order to have a successful business or career? The long days, missed birthdays, dinners, good-night stories and time spent playing with your kids can never be replaced.
We think that the extra money we make for those big holidays, homes or cars makes up for that lost time, but it never really does. Invariably, it comes back to haunt us.
In the moment when we’re struggling to make ends meet, keep our businesses afloat and working those extra long hours to move the dial on our careers, we need to keep in mind that our kids love us but our businesses never will!
As Harold wisely said, “There are some similarities between raising kids and running a business, but in the end, it’s families that are important and it’s kids who give us purpose to succeed!”
Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Email firstname.lastname@example.org