Oatmeal on the Floor

I’ve been watching with great interest as my 2½ year-old grandson and his 11-month old sister explore their relatively new lives. Building an entrepreneurial business is a lot like raising a child. There’s a tremendous amount of nurturing required. Let’s look at the parallels.

My grandson is prone to tantrums which come with the territory during the terrible twos. Usually this happens because he’s frustrated or doesn’t get his way. In a growing business we can feel extreme frustration when things don’t go our way. We may have a tendency to take out our frustration on others in the form of an adult tantrum – possibly we say or do things that are less than kind. I also notice what happens when baby sister picks up one of his toys. Now, this may be a toy that he hasn’t touched for weeks, but if she latches onto it he suddenly wants and needs it right then and there. He’ll push her and she’ll push him – and trust me, she’s a strong little cuss! In our entrepreneurial endeavors we may regularly experience conflict with others who see things differently. As with children it sometimes seems like all we do is attempt to resolve such conflicts.

Do you want to talk about hyperactivity? I’m an expert on this subject. When you look up the word in the dictionary, my grandson’s picture is there. He and his sister are both afflicted with this tendency. They are all over the place all of the time. He’ll put together a couple pieces of a puzzle, then zip over and ride his tricycle, then run upstairs and bang on his drum set (a hand-me-down from his older cousin who received it from yours truly – kind of a Karma thing). Baby sister is motoring around and climbing on everything during every single waking moment. Think about the entrepreneurial environment. It’s hectic. The pace is frenetic and we’re constantly putting out fires and incubating new ideas – all at the same time. The downside of course, can be a lack of focus and a failure to complete tasks and projects.

Kids make ginormous messes. When I visit at my daughter’s house I’m always struck by all the “stuff” that is strewn about. At our home I watch these kids drag things out of the toy box and leave them in their wake as they move on to the next “thing.” Fortunately we have fewer “stuff” items at our home, but there’s no question that the little munchkins can actually pull everything out and cover the floor in a matter of seconds. And when it comes to eating, that’s a whole other story. There’s no other way to put it – it looks like a daily occurrence of an Animal House food fight. There’s oatmeal on the floor, eggs on the walls and cheese stuck to the ceiling! Our businesses may look the same way. Building an entrepreneurial organization is a messy proposition. Things break. The prototype product we created isn’t the sleek game-changer we had anticipated. Systems and processes are half-completed and sometimes customers are less than pleased.

For all the trials and tribulations of raising children, there are many rewarding moments. Watching my grandson take his first few steps and become more confident every day thereafter was pretty cool. Listening to a 2½ year-old sing the “ABC Song” perfectly is a proud moment. Seeing the smiles and hearing them lovingly call me “Poppa” melts my heart. I guess it’s true what they say about grandkids being the reward we receive for not killing our children. Likewise, our hearts sing when things come together and we actually take three steps forward as entrepreneurs. Oh sure, there will be two-step-backward days as well, but the net effect is positive. How do we make sure that the rewards are always there? Like parents, we remain committed to building our business just like we’re committed to raising our kids. We learn how to be patient. We learn how to be positive. And we learn how to celebrate the victories along the way.

When we grow an entrepreneurial business we know there’s going to be oatmeal on the floor. But if we are committed, patient, positive and celebrate success, eventually our baby will grow up and make us very proud.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Messy Baby

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