THE MOST UNLIKELY COMBINATION:
BUSINESS AND BABY.
What being a new mum has taught me about business.
Written by Tara Shelton
Founder & Creative Director, Dream & Do
Sitting down to write a blog post is near impossible with an almost six week old baby, which is why I recorded this one during a recent walk with Estelle and had a writer transcribe it. Resourceful, huh? My baby is now 18 weeks and I am only JUST publishing this blog now. My to-do list gets ticked in slow motion these days but it feels nice finally cross this one off, releasing my thoughts into the world!
This blog is one I’ve been wanting to write for a long time and is a collection of thoughts that have been seeding in my mind, about my business (Dream & Do) and motherhood. Here goes...
At first I thought motherhood would completely distract me from my business but it has actually brought the business to my attention and caused me to see Dream & Do in a whole new light.
I keep preaching the importance of changing your environment constantly and having new experiences in order to stay creative and that’s exactly what has happened to me as a result of motherhood (I say motherhood like I’ve been doing it for a long time but like I said, it’s only been six weeks!).
You wouldn’t think that motherhood and business really go together but they actually share a lot of similar qualities, so I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learnt so far...
You’re not as important as you think you are
While I’ve quickly learnt that I’m the most important person in my daughter Estelle’s life - she quite literally needs me to survive - I’m also learning that I’m not the most important person when it comes to the life of my business.
I thought I was that person to my business and when I got pregnant I never wanted to have to choose between the two. I’ve always wanted a family and I’ve always wanted a business so I knew I had to make the two work.
When I got pregnant, naturally I freaked out:
“How the hell am I gonna run a business without being there?
“I’m the most creative.”
“I know all the clients.”
“I know how to run things.”
“Everyone asks me for help.”
“What is going to happen when I’m not available?!”
I went into planning mode and hired what I had essentially become - an account manager. I found a great account manager in Laura, but I only had 3-4 months with her and I knew that if she wasn’t to work out, I wouldn’t have time to hire anyone else. Thankfully she did work out.
Laura is doing a fantastic job. Our clients love her, perhaps more than they love me and I’m ok with that. I always thought that when I did leave, things wouldn’t go as well as they are going right now and I had hoped I’d have the time to check my emails, steer the team, approve all of the creative and respond to texts at the very least. I thought that was what the business needed but how wrong I was! I don’t even have time to shower some days (today being one of them).
Despite my absence, the work they are producing is phenomenal. There are some projects that I haven’t even seen the concepts for but I’ve got client emailing me saying how amazed they are.
Part of me wonders if the business even needs me, but the proud founder in me is like WOW!
Within 18 months - 2 years I’ve created a business and a culture that is able to run without me and that is so empowering!
I’ve learnt that I’m not the most important person in the business and I don’t need to be. By stepping back and not being able to micromanage (not that I’ve ever been a micromanager), I’ve seen the power of trust. If you give people the problem and let them find the solution, you’ll really be surprised. Trust makes people great.
Giving up is not an option
I’ve always wanted a baby but I think in my case at least, I was very focused on the baby itself. I was so excited about the cuddles and that beautiful time when, almost like a puppy, you don’t want them to grow up, but I’d only ever imagined that time. I naively didn’t realise the permanence of having a child.
As a mother, you’re bringing a life into this world, one that will always be here. My baby is here now. Estelle, a human being, is here now and there’s no further choice in the matter. When she cries and doesn’t stop crying it hurts and there’s times you just want to walk away, but you can’t. You think about your old life and see it for what it was and how amazing it was, but you know there’s no going back. You’re here now and you can’t give up.
In business however, giving up is always an option. You can give birth to a business and bring it into the world but at anytime, when it gets too hard, you can give up.
People say that 50% of all startups fail within the first two years and I wonder how many of these fail because the person gave up? We hear the stories about rewards coming to those who don’t give up in the face of obstacles. These people have such a strong vision and even though it falters at times, they don’t give up. They stay flexible, they innovate and they grow and I think that’s something having a bub has taught me about business.
With business, you’ve brought something into the world so perhaps giving up shouldn’t be an option. It was your dream at some point and by remembering that it was your dream, you will remember why you started.
The importance of purpose
I started my business with an unknowing desire to find something that I wanted to do everyday. I wanted to use my skills in a way that excites me and I was self aware enough to know what made me tick. I love design but what really makes my heart beat faster is business.
To me, business is creative. It’s an extreme type of creativity, where you’re bringing something into the world that people want. Firstly, I wanted to find a way to use design, branding and creativity within business. Secondly, I love helping people with a dream and giving them confidence. I also love that business can create your life. I’ve seen it happen for me - it’s still happening for me - and I want to see it happen for everyone who wants it. It can bring a lot of happiness to the world, not only through what you can offer, but because you can get out of bed every day and do something you love.
It’s recently become a bit of a flavour, to find purpose in your life and entrepreneurs with a purpose are often the most successful. In the last six weeks I’ve found that the same can be said for motherhood.
Bringing a human life into the world, and the heavy responsibility that follows gives your life a huge amount of purpose. Obviously it’s up to you to keep this human alive and because it’s a human that you care so deeply for, you work harder to give them the best - to give them the home, the pet, the school, the activities - everything you think will give them a happy life.
You’ve also gotta work hard at creating morals and values so they become good people, no matter what they have. All of a sudden you’re a teacher too.
When you have a child, the purpose of your business becomes so much more important because the outcome of achieving that purpose directly affects your child. It’s the story of your life and you want to be the best you can be, so you can proudly say to your child, in this case, my daughter,
“This is what I love, this is what I stand for, this is what I work hard for and you should do the same.”
I find myself getting emotional just thinking about this.
I’m always preaching the importance of dreams - to the world, to my partner and to everyone I meet. Just the other day I caught myself in the living room one morning, dancing around with Estelle to the Spice Girls (which of course made think of my childhood with my sisters.)
I was dancing around, feeling on top of the world and later I found myself explaining it to my husband..
“It reminded me of the little girl I once was, with all of these dreams. Now I’ve grown up, I’m holding my daughter and I’m a girl whose dreams have come true.”
I’ve always been a dreamer and I loved encouraging my sisters and visualising what my life would be. All that I could want in life, I actually have right now. I don’t want to sound boastful but I really believe that what you focus on and imagine, you really can have. Yes I’m an optimist and perhaps I’m luckier than some, but I feel so grateful. One day, I want my daughter to feel the same, which is why I am so passionate about dreams and having a sense of purpose.
You are more capable and resourceful than you think you are
Since becoming a mother I’ve learnt that time is a limited resource. I had originally planned to write this blog myself and I even took my laptop to the park with the intention of typing it up once Estelle had settled, but in reality, I didn’t even get a chance to open the Word doc.
Motherhood limits the amount of time you can dedicate to creative pursuits, which is a shame because I’ve never felt as creative as I feel right now (probably thanks to all of the these new experiences and emotions I’m having!). I’d love to be able to capture them all but I just don’t have the time which is super frustrating.
It’s difficult to even keep up with the ideas and emotions. I don’t have an answer, but I think having a team around you, a dream team, is so important because it allows you to have these fleeting moments of brilliance and then your team have the time to care and listen and bring that brilliance into the world, even if you don’t.
There’s no denying that becoming a mother changes your life and your business but that’s not to say it hinders it. Experiencing motherhood has given me a new perspective on business and despite the stress and amplified emotions (as if I wasn’t enough of a crier already!) it has all added more shades of colour to my life in unexpected ways.
If you want an unpredictable life, start a business. Then if you’re STILL bored...have a baby!
WHAT IS MIDNIGHT MUSE?
'Midnight Muse' is a blog series written by Tara Shelton. She writes often at odd hours of the night and will deliver to your inbox with no order, consistency or marketing objective. They will be randomly published at 11.11pm for that lonely midnight reading, or 11.11am for a mid-day break in your day.
The message is clear; We are entrepreneur's that chose the wild life and you are not alone in this journey. Dream on dreamer...
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