I left the security and comfort of working for established businesses to create my own business, at exactly the same time as my first child was due to be born.
Stupid, brave: it’s a fine line, and those are just a few of the epithets people applied.
Over a year later, I have a healthy, happy, magnificent baby boy, and a healthy, happy, magnificent (not-so-baby) business (www.onefiftyconsultancy.com).
I could proudly regale you with both of their accomplishments. One has a rather larger vocabulary than the other, but both are prone to shouting and crying when hungry and tired… But I won’t. Because you’ll never feel the joy, pride and relief I feel at both.
What you can share in, and potentially find useful, are the things I’ve learned about how to do IT. IT being the seemingly impossible: be committed to your family life and start up.
- Accept this is IT. In this case IT being the moment. There is no waiting for the stars to align. They’ve aligned, and your massive life moments are all happening at the same time. That shifts your time frames – everything is about NOW. There’s no hoping something happens, you just have to do.
- Do it. Whatever it is, do it the moment arises. Seize whatever opportunities present themselves, from a chance to have coffee with the dream client, to getting the train 30 minutes later to enjoy your baby being cute eating breakfast. You haven’t got time to dream about these things, because, well you haven’t got time to dream. So be decisive, and do it.
- Become an efficiency and organisation ninja. Whatever systems you’ve used in the past won’t be good enough. The only way you can achieve everything you wish, and not drastically subject yourself to beration by your customers, employees, or spouse, is to have meticulous list taking, action noting, and information systematisation. It may not be fun, but it is the thing which will allow you to do the fun, exciting, meaningful things in the scale you need.
- Ignore the people who’ve never done it. Respect everyone, obviously, but at the end of the day, have they really faced what you are? Few people have. You’re trying to do something out of the ordinary, after all. What you need, in this period, is execution, not opinions. People who’ve done the same, or similar, understand the pressures of execution, and therefore can provide meaningful advice.
- Sleep less. You’re having a baby. The lie-ins had gone anyway. Realistically you are always going to be short on time now with the business. Just embrace the two. Clearly don’t allow it to significantly affect your health, but I’ve definitely looked fresher, and felt less fatigued. But I also have 18+ hours a day to pursue the two dreams of my adult life. I’ll take more time over more rest every time.
- Socialise less. What really matters? Your family, and your business dream. Sure, who doesn’t love a night in the pub with a bunch of mates? But you’ve done that before, and you’ll do that again. You won’t do IT again. So, prioritise. Real friends understand. And give yourself an outlet for all the pressure every so often – don’t never see mates in the pub.
- Lose the reserve. Maybe this is just a British thing, but we’re not conditioned to say “actually, I’m living my dream, every day”. But it’s infectious. It’s what your team want and need to hear, it’s what your partner needs and wants to hear, and it’s what keeps you sane. Because you’re doing something which hasn’t got a rational agenda – it’s emotive. There are huge downs – buried in mountains of ‘stuff’, feeling isolated, and where things don’t go your way. So, you have to be able to draw upon, and articulate how amazing what you’re doing is. Less modesty, more exuberance.
Hopefully that helps at least one person facing the same situation. I’m living proof it’s not impossible. I’ve shown the negative people that their negativity is the issue, not my vision. I am, quite literally, living my dream.
It’s hard, but anything worth doing is. If in doubt, DO IT.