When you launch a business, you’ll quickly discover that everyone has an opinion about how to run it. Former co-workers, current business partners, friends and even family members will be offering up their words of wisdom — whether you ask for them or not.
But whom should you really listen to? Aside from your own instincts and heart, where else do you turn for advice?
I find that these days I learn the most from my son. He’s only a toddler, but he’s smarter than you might think. Whether we’re at the playground scaling slides or running through the woods, his instincts are honest and pure.
Oftentimes entrepreneurs get caught up in the go-go-go of business and life, and we forget to take a step back and just be human. My son reminds me to go with the flow and take life as it comes on a daily basis. It amazes me how much I learn from someone so small.
As a parent and creative business owner, there is a constant juggle to stay on top of things, move my business forward and stay sane all at the same time. However, there are a few thoughts I try to keep in mind as I wake up to start each crazy day, thanks to my 2-year-old.
1. Taking risks is worth it.
Trying new foods is a gamble for anyone, regardless of age. My son rarely tries new food, and when he does there’s a good chance he’ll hate it. But there’s also a good chance he’ll love it, so he takes the risk.
When you eat something for the first time, it’s a lot like launching a business or new product. You ask yourself questions like, “Is the experience going to be enjoyable? Is it going to be worth the time or financial investment?”
Here’s what I say to my son: “What’s the worst that could happen?”
At the very least, you learn what you don’t like in the process. Discovering when something doesn’t work is just as valuable to a business owner as landing on something that does work.
Take the risk. You’ll learn something.
2. Face your fears.
Out of the blue one day last spring my son decided to attempt a tall twisty slide at the playground. He’d never gone down it before, so I was shocked to see him standing at the top. While he contemplated this decision, I could tell by his hesitation that he was fearful of the potential outcome. I stood there looking up at him, shouting words of encouragement and thinking how similar the situation was to my own current hesitations in altering a part of my business. Then, something clicked, he went down the slide and laughed the whole way.
Something clicked in my brain that day too. If a 2-year-old can get over the scariness of trying something new, I can too. I’m so glad I did, because it ended up being a turning point for my sales model!
3. Look at things from different perspectives.
Toddlers are pretty small. They see the world from only a few feet off the ground while constantly growing and changing. Adults see the world from the same point of view for years and years. When my son gets crabby, sometimes all he needs is to see things from a different perspective. I try to remember this when I get frustrated about a client or a stressful business situation. I’ll take a break to sit on the floor, go for a walk or bend down to play with my son and clear my head. It always works because I’m physically forced to look at things from a new angle. Try it next time and see what it does for you.
4. Working together is better.
I don’t know about you, but as a creative entrepreneur I always want to create on my own. Something in my brain is hard-wired to think only I can execute on some fabulous idea. Although, each and every time I collaborate with another entrepreneur, the outcome is 1000 times better than if I were to do it on my own. Why is that?
It’s just like when a toddler tries to put on their own shoes. It sort of works solo, but turns out much better when someone else helps!
5. Never give up.
One of my son’s favorite treats is dried apricots, and he doesn’t get to eat them unless he can clearly communicate that desire. For the longest time all he could pronounce was “apri,” and while it was cute, it wasn’t clear. He was halfway to the goal. We spent months and months working on the second half of the word, only giving in once in a while when he came close to the full “apricot.” Then after dinner one night he walked over to our pantry and clearly enunciated, “Apricot please!”
I was floored! I not only gave him an apricot, but an extra one as a reward for not giving up. Now he’s got the word down and after two apricots holds his hand out to ask, “One more apricot, please?” Smart kid.
As hard as it can seem, perseverance can pay off. Twice as much sometimes!
Wisdom can come from a variety of sources for business owners. Don’t forget those around you who are older may not necessarily be wiser. Sometimes it’s worth it to heed the simple lessons from those who are small.
Andrea Genevieve Michnik writes for TinyPrints, where you can find business cards for your own small business (here).