Babies and Baby Companies

baby companies toys
My wife is due to deliver a little girl any day now, and the waiting is sheer agony.

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.

Time flies

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

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Lauri April 8, 2011, 5:10 pm

    As a new mother who works at a (relatively) new company, this seems right on the money. Celebrating the tiny milestones was much easier with the pregnancy than the business but I think it’s more important with the business since the tiny newness lasts a lot longer!

  • David February 22, 2011, 3:00 pm

    Great analogy between babies and new companies. I especially like the analogy of all the extra stuff out there that we don’t need to buy when starting a company (diapers). That’s one thing that I had to learn the hard way. I grow with the business instead of trying to grow before it. Great article!

  • Jordan Bowman February 15, 2011, 1:48 pm


    We’re expecting, too! Crazy, isn’t it?

    I like what you said about good partners. Seems to me like the people you work with make all the difference in the world.

    Sorry to tell you, but I actually think my wife is the best….

    • glen February 15, 2011, 1:49 pm

      Congrats! Agree to disagree on the “best wife” bit? :)

      • Jon Daley February 15, 2011, 2:41 pm

        Hm – you can agree to disagree all you like, since the truth of it is that I have the best wife, so I don’t know what the rest of you are talking about. I suppose it is just because you haven’t met my wife, if you had, you’d be forced to agree. :)

  • Jon Daley February 15, 2011, 9:32 am

    i work from home and it works out well. my guess it that it would be harder for a mom to do work at home for other things than the family – babies aren’t much interested in dads for a while, and so while my wife loves that I am home because i can share the load, she would have a harder time doing “extra” work than i do, i think.

    having a flexible schedule is great for parenting though (and lots of other things) since i can take care of the kids, help with home schooling, cook, wash, work on the house and car with the kids, etc. all of which helps out my wife.

    it is hard to imagine going back to a full-time job outside the home.

  • Kyra February 15, 2011, 9:00 am

    I loved this post! Very funny and interesting similarities you’ve found between businesses and babies. Maybe you can mix the two somehow once you’re in dad-land. I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas, advice on working from home once the baby comes. You work from home, right? That may be an incorrect assumption on my part, but if you do, I hope you spill! Our daughter is almost a year old and it’s very recently that I’ve started to actually find the time to do work. To actually sit and focus on the task at hand. Cheers to soon-to-be parenthood! (And best wishes on a smooth and safe delivery! Luckily, there’s no choice once you start this process. You have no choice but to finish). :)

    • glen February 15, 2011, 9:46 am

      While I technically have a “real”, 9-5 job, I will be working the first couple months mostly from home. After that, we’ll see.

      I’ve heard that sleep is one of the first things to sacrifice, which will be difficult. I need at least 7 hours a night otherwise I’m worthless. I guess I’ll have to adapt ;)

      Thanks for the kind words.

      • Jon Daley February 15, 2011, 2:42 pm

        Hm – yeah you might have trouble with the sleep thing. Though, I used to be a really light sleeper, and now after kids, I can sleep through a lot.

  • Jon Daley February 15, 2011, 6:06 am

    hey – I somehow missed that you were expecting a baby – so presumably that means you didn’t know we are expecting a baby in a couple weeks or so.

    interesting thoughts about a baby and a company.

    two thoughts on your article: one – you (as a guy) probably shouldn’t ever say anything about a pregnancy or a labor being easy, even if it doesn’t look that bad… :) Two, i think you have a typo where you mean to say “keep FROM shipping”.

    • glen February 15, 2011, 8:17 am

      Congrats yourself! :)

      No, it’s not easy, but my wife has made it easier for me. She has been incredible.

      Good catch on the typo! Fixed.