Watching the entire process of a tiny person grow inside of my wife’s belly has been a real mind bender. I also can’t help but notice similar qualities between babies and new companies. For both, the processes are namely creating and shipping, with copious amounts of support.
Ok, maybe that’s oversimplifying the process. Yet, there are some crucial similarities between growing a business and a baby. (Aside from, you know, the fact that they’re “new”.)
I’ve been working on a tiny side project for a little longer than my wife has been pregnant, and it’s also about ready to be “born”. This is what I’ve learned in the process.
You’ll never know what to expect
We have no idea what to expect about our daughter. Who’s nose will she have? Will she have her mother’s beautiful laugh? Right now, the only thing that we can know with certainty is that she will break my heart, many, many times over.
Just like a business, right? (Especially the heart-breaking bit.) You’ll never know what your business will turn into. The idea for our little project has taken about three right turns and a hard left, arriving neatly in the middle of nowhere we expected.
But the journey sure has been fun. And we haven’t even started.
Pardon the cliche, but it really does seem like yesterday that my wife sat me down on the couch and told me that I was going to be a daddy. As much as I thought 9 months would be an eternity, it’s literally flown by. Doctor’s appointments, buying baby stuff, baby showers, buying more baby stuff… all of the activity surrounding having a child has made the process go incredibly quick.
The same is true with tiny businesses. Time flies when you’re working on something. In fact, time slips through your fingers if you let it. Feature creep sets in, keeping you from actually shipping. (That’s one way a baby is different from a company: The product ships whether you’re ready or not.)
Great partners make everything smoother
If I were married to some harpy, this process would be much, much worse. Fortunately, my wife is–in my humble opinion–the best. She’s handled the pregnancy with grace, ease, and we’ve had a lot of fun in the process. I’ve heard far too many horror stories about the effect of pregnancy hormones. My wife is incredible.
A company of one can be successful, but having a great partner in your business endeavors can make all of the difference. It helps when your partner has all the qualities you wish you had. My co-founder is a champ, and his best qualities are my biggest weaknesses. This is what makes our fledgling company awesome.
There’s tons of crap you don’t need
My parents constantly remind me that when I was born, they didn’t have all the fancy things that parents today have. If you’ve ever been to a Babies ‘R Us, you know that there is an entire industry built on crap you don’t need.
Fortunately, there are some things that you know you’re going to need, the essentials. (Think: Diapers.)
The same is true in small businesses. People will tell you need to spend $XX,XXX on designs, programming, advertising, or a billion other things. Here’s a hint: if you don’t have a product yet, you don’t need it. You only need the equivalent of Business Diapers in the beginning these days, if you’re starting a lean company.
Excitement grows when you can see results
If my wife just went nine months and without showing any sort of bump and suddenly went into labor, my reactions would probably be along the lines of losing control of my bodily functions. I’m pretty positive the gradual growth is the Good Lord’s way of preparing couples for drastic life change.
Not only does seeing progress give you a way to prepare yourself, it gives you a chance to reflect on how far you’ve come.
The best advice we’ve gotten during the process was to take lots of pictures. The same should be true for new companies. Celebrate tiny milestones, take lots of “snapshots” of progress. When you can actually see progress, you’ll stay motivated and excited.
Photo by massdistraction