Sleepless nights, assessing (and reassessing), pivoting, negotiating, anticipating, spending … Are these keywords describing entrepreneurship or parenting? For all the parents who are entrepreneurs out there, you probably know these endeavors run in parallel.
If parenting is akin to entrepreneurship, what entrepreneurial lessons have you learned from your kids? Here’s what a few EO members shared with Octane.
1. Consider the value in alternative approaches
“I’ve learned to ask my 13-year-old son why he wants to do something a certain way, especially when it’s different from my approach. After all, just because someone has less experience doesn’t mean they don’t have a better approach.
“For example, for a friend’s birthday recently, my son wanted to give cash instead of our usual gift-card approach. My immediate thought was, ‘No, that’s not classy.’ But instead, I asked why–and his answer was insightful. He explained that a gift card to a specific store meant his friend could only use it there, but if he doesn’t want anything from that store, our gift would be inconsiderate. And as for a credit card-backed gift card, we’d have to pay a fee to purchase, which is a waste of money. His ‘why’ made sense, so his friend got cash.
“Having a child in the house is a constant reminder that great ideas come from all around, and it helps keep me extra aware to ask ‘why’ into the office—where great minds also surround me!”
― Denise Blasevick, EO New Jersey, Owner, The S3 Agency
2. It’s important to delegate
“My oldest son, who was very resourceful at an early age, taught us multiple lessons. One question we heard him ask often was, ‘Can you do this for me?’ He learned to ask others for help, and they actually did help much of the time. Some parents might discourage that, but we saw it as a valuable skill he could develop—as long as it didn’t hurt his relationships and he was kind and thoughtful.
“He’s grown into a strong collaborator who’s been orchestrating the efforts of others since childhood. We all have this instinct, but entrepreneurs have to learn to lead and harness the efforts of a team and outside vendors. You can’t do everything yourself. I’ve learned from my son to look for talented people who can do things that free me up to do other things.”
― Brannon Poe, EO Charleston, Founder, Poe Group Advisors
What differentiates EO from other groups for entrepreneurs is that it believes in empowering and growing the whole entrepreneur in all aspects of life—as a leader, a partner, a manager and a parent. With countless programs available for spouses, life partners and children, EO offers entrepreneurs a 360-degree approach to life learning.
3. Don’t limit yourself through self-talk
“There is a certain age where kids develop self-awareness and become self-conscious of their actions and presence. I felt sad watching my oldest child become self-conscious and create self-limitations. Helping her regain her confidence has been a journey from a natural self-freedom to society-induced limitations, all self-created by life experiences.
“As her mom and biggest cheerleader, I’ve noticed that I, too, allow my self-talk to limit my dreams and business ambitions. I talk with my daughter about the struggles I face being a female entrepreneur, which can be daunting. I tell her how I overcome the instinct that I am not worthy. We all need to believe that we can do it–and then anything is possible.”
― Liza Roeser Atwood, EO Idaho, Founder and CEO, Fifty Flowers
4. There’s value in acknowledging emotions
“I am a mom to two charming girls, and I run a content strategy firm. Child development training helped me learn to manage employee emotions. A therapist once told me, ‘Your children don’t need a solution. Even when they act out, they want to feel that their emotions are heard and acknowledged.’ When I saw what a dramatic difference this made with kids, I was eager to try it on adults.
“Whether talking to employees or clients, I ‘mirror’ or reflect back to the speaker that I hear what they are saying: ‘Bob, I understand you feel frustrated when Janine doesn’t get the reports finished on time,’ or ‘Jessica, I hear you felt unappreciated when Jackie didn’t acknowledge how much work you did on that account.’
“Once the person feels heard, you can move into problem-solving territory. But if you start with problem-solving, you’re missing an opportunity to forge a connection—not to mention the emotional baggage still on the table can create all sorts of tripwires.”
― Anna Redmond, EO Los Angeles, Co-founder and CEO, Hippo Thinks
5. Stay curious, ask questions and be persistent
“My children remind me of the importance of curiosity and asking questions. They inspire me to ask more questions before offering solutions and asking more follow-up questions in every type of conversation or interview.
“My kids’ behavior reminds me of the importance of persistence, and as annoyed as I get at times when they ask me again for something I just said ‘no’ to earlier, I have to appreciate their persistence. At times they catch me in a different frame of mind or give me better reasons, and I say ‘yes.’ This translates into the sales realm, and the importance of strong follow-up. Clients aren’t won with the first outreach or meet-and-greet, but with the follow-up.”
― Rachid Zahidi, EO Tampa Bay, CEO, Sentinel Background Checks