When your business is your baby

It’s hard to take risks and not beat yourself up for every mistake.

In a recent interview by the research department of Edith Cowen University on the challenges women face in business, I started thinking about all the little things that are unique to being a woman in business.

Most are great advantages, but sometimes our love and commitment to getting every little detail perfect can stifle our employees and business growth. How do I know this? Because I hear it all the time.

The early days

When you’re the proud mama of a brand new business, there’s no better feeling than seeing your baby do well. Suddenly you’re doing so well that sales are flooding in, the phone won’t stop ringing, and your email notifications sound like a Christmas carol on crack.

Before long the crazy days and sleepless nights start wearing you thin, but there is simply no way you could trust anyone with your baby. Because honestly, no one knows your business like you do, or cares about your baby as much as you do.

Finally, you can’t put it off any longer. You’re going to have to leave your baby in someone else’s hands just for an hour or two. Given the committed business woman and perfectionist that you are, naturally, you won’t be leaving anything to chance. Everyone will know exactly what to do in every situation. So, you frantically and relentlessly write down every bit of information they’ll ever need to take care of your baby. A full procedure manual, numerous nifty voice notes and a collection of sticky note instructions later, you’ve made it to date night.

Business date night

You’ve made your list and checked it twice – it’s time to leave, and you can’t help but feel like you’re abandoning your baby. Your conversation with the Uber driver is restrained to a curt “Hello, yes that’s me. And that’s where we’re headed,” as you incessantly check your phone. Why hasn’t the sitter called yet? Something must have gone wrong by now, surely?

Conversation with your “date” doesn’t fare much better; you’re still nervously checking your phone and distracted by all the thoughts of what could be going wrong.

It’s easier the second time around

Once your business is a little older, or you’ve plucked up the courage to do it all again, you’re pleasantly surprised that it’s not as stressful or terrifying the second time around. You’re more relaxed by now, more confident in your abilities and have learnt to ask for help. And it all just seems a lot easier than before.

Which brings me back to the interviewee’s question that got me thinking about all this in the first place:

Do you think women take less risks in business and are harder on themselves when we make a mistake?

My answer to the question? “Women treat their business like a baby, and sometimes we limit ourselves because we’re acting like a helicopter parent.”

I believe our deep emotional connection with our business stems from the blood, sweat and tears of putting every ounce of energy and love into growing our business. All while juggling family, friends and all the other commitments we just can’t brush aside.

And then there’s failure. Besides the fear of facing harsh judgement, pitiful glances and hushed commentary from our peers, for many of us, failure proves that we should never have started the business in the first place. That we aren’t smart enough or didn’t work hard enough.

When in reality, we should see mistakes and mishaps for what they are – an opportunity to learn and grow; a valuable learning curve that will make us better business women. Stop being your own worst critic – mistakes don’t equal failure.

Conclusion

Sometimes our love, emotional investment and commitment to our business; and the fear of failure can stifle our growth. Although letting go just enough to keep moving forward is hard, it just might be the best thing you ever do.

Over to you

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