My brother has a 3 month old baby and I volunteered to help watch him for a few days.
This is a picture after I got both shoulders puked on by baby Atlas.
He’s a cute kid and I figured I could leave the kid in his crib while I did my work and activities throughout the day.
Shit…I was completely wrong.
I used to think (in my ignorance) that people with kids were too lazy to start their own business.
I used to say to them, “Just make more time.” or “You have to make it a priority!”
Fortunately, we always can learn from our mistakes.
Here are 9 things I learned about business from watching a baby for 4 days:
1. Time limitations increase productivity.
Baby Atlas did not care about my phone calls or my schedule. The 2 times a day he took naps were the only chances I got to work on my todos for the week. With that limited window, I made sure to list out my exact priorities for the day and reduced all distractions during that time. No Skype (sorry I can’t do a call or nope that article isn’t all that important). Basically, children are the ultimate lifehack. (Warning: I don’t encourage having a child just to increase your productivity 🙂
2. Do more of what works.
Most days I was feeding Atlas just 2 ounces of baby formula. Then I realized after I fed him 4 ounces of food that he would fall asleep sooner so I could work. Then for all future feedings I did my best to give him more food so he would fall asleep. The key thing for your business is identify what things are working well and find ways to do more of that.
3. Most times you’re uncomfortable there’s a simple problem to solve it.
Poop, food, burp, move. Those are the 4 key things. The only way a child can communicate a problem is to scream or cry–they can’t spell it out for you. In your business you may be hearing a problem you are ignoring. When looking at the fundamentals that can satisfy the child, it was frankly pretty simple. Diaper clean, check (it’s overrated how hard it is to change them), fed, check, burped check or move the child around. All done. Go back to the basics when you are trying to solve
problems. Keep it simple. .
4. Reduce your judgments of other people.
I never realized how tiring it is to take care of a baby in the morning, go to work, come home, clean, take care of the kid and then try to find time to start your own business. A few months ago, I saw a mother when I was getting my pedicure (only judge me a little bit) who was yelling at her 3 kids. I was thinking to myself, what a terrible mother. Now I know a little bit more about what she was going through. When you are interviewing someone, talking with a customer or dealing with a
co-worker, reduce your natural tendency to pass judgment. You don’t know what it’s like for them.
5. Enable learning triggers.
I didn’t have as much time for the gym so I chose to walk the baby in the morning. It was too hard to do my daily reading so I started to listen to podcasts instead. If you are driving, can you listen to an audio book instead of zoning out. Or if the kid is sleeping in your arms then put on a YouTube video of Jay Abrahams talking about marketing.
6. Ignore non-critical activities and pay someone to handle them.
When the baby was crying for food, I completely ignored washing the dishes. And I ignored the yard, the laundry, and everything else. The highest priority was making baby Atlas happy again. You start recognizing the highest value activities. For your business, figure out which activities are really generating you more money and which ones can you pay someone else to handle.
7. Prioritize yourself.
You know how airlines always tell you to put on your oxygen mask before you put it on your child? That’s true for life. If you don’t take the time to take care of yourself, you won’t be at your best to take care of your child. My brother gets up at 5am so he can make time to meditate and exercise. He knows that gives him more energy and he feels better all day which translates to how he treats his child.
8. Adapt to your limitations.
I typed one-handed when I was feeding the kid. You are going to be constrained in your business, everyone is limited in some way. Figure out how you can work with that situation and still get work done, even if it’s at 50%. Maybe I could have use dictation software or done more phone calls during feeding.
9. Take baby selfies.
Take a lot of these. People love them. That’s all. 🙂 Like a successful business, people only see the good times—not the hardwork that goes into them.
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In the words of the great Ali G to all the parents starting or running their own businesses, “Respect!”
If you’re a parent and you run a business of any size, please leave a comment and share the lessons you’ve learned about business from raising your kids.