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9 Business Lessons I Learned Watching a Baby for 4 Days

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!”

I apologize.

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.

* * *

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.


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116 responses to “9 Business Lessons I Learned Watching a Baby for 4 Days”

Katie West
December 3, 2018 at 10:44 pm

OMG! Your brother is a genius person. Thanks a lot for sharing such an informative page about “9 Business Lessons I Learned Watching a Baby for 4 Days”. I have read your valuable page and gotten much information. I have learned a lot from you that I did not know before. I confused for choosing the Baby Care information what would be the best for everything but now my confusion has cleared by your review. I want to add some information about Baby care guide.

Thanks again Noah and Keep it up………..

Corina Frankie
December 19, 2016 at 11:24 am

Wireless earpiece. I spend a lot of time breastfeeding and my son is at the age where anything dangling from my head will get ripped off. My ear hides the peice so I can listen to audio books while he feeds. I too have a new appreciation for working mom’s. As a buisness owner, I’ve created a very flexible work/home environment. The key take away, and you mentioned it too, is time. I pay a lot of different people to do things that don’t allow me to spend more time and focus on my son, and don’t allow me to grow as an entrepreneur and mom. Love this post Noah!

Ike Paz
June 30, 2016 at 1:05 am

dude, you can make a post about anything! My biggest take away from this post came in two parts, repeat the things that work or (yield the most) and second, when in doubt go back to the basics; poop, feed, move burp

Ingrid Botero-Bernal
February 19, 2016 at 8:40 am

I registered a business about 4 years ago. I used it more for freelancing until now. I’m trying to actually make something out of it to actually make it my primary income. After not qualifying for the FMLA act with my last company and let go when because of it (My last day was the day I went into labor and could not longer go into work) I decided to make my business work to make income for our family. Within a month of giving birth via an emergency C-section I took a translating job. I worked over 20 hours and just got a $90 profit, it was a bust! I’m learning, this is harder than I thought, a newborn, a household to run and getting my business going. Sometimes I just feel like a freelancer and not an entrepreneur. Maybe I need better guidance….

March 19, 2015 at 4:11 am

Awesome post! Thank you very much for the insight and advice, all nicely laced with humor. Baby Atlas is adorable, more selfies please 🙂

February 3, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Great post, I got turned onto your blog after watching a clip of you and Ramit talking about goal setting.

My wife and I have a 3 year old, work full time, I go to school at night, AND we have a wedding photography business we do on the weekends. I almost need to schedule my bathroom breaks. The lesson I’m learning from all of this is that I need to prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. When my daughter takes a nap (which is rare now that she’s 3) I immediate bust out my laptop and get more of my schoolwork done, or edit a few more wedding photographs. Then, when she’s finally asleep at night I am able to schedule a couple of hours of late-night work in there as well. Since going to school, however, my wife and I agreed that certain days of the week I’m locked away in the basement doing my work, then when the timer is up, I take care of our daugther and my wife gets her wedding photographs edited. It’s a crazy hectic schedule, but we’re working towards our main goal of growing our part-time business into a full-time gig for my wife (I say full-time, but honestly its just a couple weekends per month), while I take my new-found lessons from school and work towards my own full-time business (tech company, I’m learning full-stack right now).

This blog post has helped me realize that I need to laser-focus my goal even more and cut out even more of the stuff that is just getting in the way. For example, we’re considering hiring someone to edit our wedding photographs for us so that we can focus on growing the business.


Idaho Edokpayi
October 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm

This makes me feel better and also gives me a roadmap. I am trying to get something of my own off the ground (Launching soon!) but my 5 month old son has this thing against laptops.

October 14, 2014 at 3:56 pm

I’m extremely happy I built my online business a couple years ago before becoming a dad. Babies are demanding. There’s also that new parent learning curve. My 3 month old has changed how I look at just about everything in this short amount of time. I will say that with me running an online business it was very nice to basically take off 3 months while she was on maternity leave to figure out this baby taking care of biz together.

John Notgrass
October 6, 2014 at 6:17 am

My young sons like to participate in what I am doing or at least copy what I am doing. Making time and room to help them feel involved is good for me and good for them.

Nick Gulic
September 13, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Atlas is so cute. Dude, great article. I don’t have kids (yet) as I’ve always been apprehensive of the shitty return policy. This article helps me realise how it could be with a kid around (and also some good business lessons too).

September 3, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Nice read!

Ashley Gainer
August 31, 2014 at 11:11 pm

My survival strategy was a mix of your #1 and #6 — have things you do while the kid is awake, and things you do while the kid is asleep. Don’t let them cross hemispheres — e.g. I can (within reason) reply to emails, clean the spills, etc. while he’s awake; I can really only do my copywriting and client calls when he’s asleep. I don’t try to do real work when he’s up, and I don’t waste time on dishes when he’s asleep. And, wonder of wonders, there are some tasks that don’t actually have to get done, ever! (Laundry basket full of clean pajamas, I’m looking at you!)

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