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Why running a startup is the ideal preparation for parenthood

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by Startacus Admin

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Running a startup and parenthood - Jemma Goba, Managing Partner & Founder of Tanami shares her thoughts on how running a startup can be a training ground for becoming a parent...and vice versa? 

Jemma GobaPeople told me time and time again that nothing could prepare me for motherhood. I heard it so often, I believed them. And of course, they were right (yes, I’ll even concede that my mother had a point), although now with the benefit of a bit of hindsight it seems to me that business plans and birthing plans have rather a lot in common. Could it be that running a startup is the ideal training ground for becoming a parent?

*Any psychologist will tell you that mastery of six characteristics are essential to overcoming both challenges:

1. ENDURANCE: early starts and long hours take their toll! Functioning on little sleep is never easy, so be it a fledgling business or a teething baby, there is no reprieve. Running on adrenaline for extended blocks of time might be exhausting, but we just have to continually remind ourselves that everything is just a phase (and to think I used to enjoy a “disco nap” … such hurtful irony!).

2. ADAPTABILITY: in both situations, hour-by-hour unpredictability reaches dizzy heights. You have to be endlessly flexible with plans (yes, that frequently means ditching them!) and try to see positives from unexpected changes to your day – even if at the time it feels like the end of the world. Your laptop giving up in the middle of an important pitch is the equivalent to your baby pooping up its back in the M&S café (in the final change of clothes you have with you). Learning the art of switching tracks without diluting your focus is the skill here: one moment you’re the accountant, the next you’re the creative ... one moment you’re the teacher, the next you’re the nurse.

tanami logo3. RESILIENCE: you’re on a roll. Everything’s going your way. And then… SLAM! You’re brought back down to earth with a bang. We all know pride comes before a fall but come on! You can go from feeling invincible to an utter failure within a matter of seconds. But stay strong: as a parent or a CEO you’ll learn from every so-called mistake … if you’re honest, you already know that.

4. PERSISTENCE: if at first you don’t succeed (and let’s face it, you probably won’t) try again. And again. You cannot possibly know everything from the get-go so don’t berate yourself when you hit stumbling blocks; it is inevitable. Whether it is persevering with a new business prospect despite a succession of cruel knock-backs or extracting the TV remote from your toddler’s sticky mouth for the tenth time in an hour, never give up.

5. EMPATHY: entering a room full of strangers at a breakfast networking event is no different to walking into a parent / baby class (apart from the smell of nappies). So, drop the scepticism, be brave and start building relationships … be it through your local Chamber of Commerce or a breastfeeding support group. Be a sponge and listen to the wisdom of others.

6. INSTINCT: living in doubt and constantly second guessing is exhausting so listening hard and trusting your gut is a key skill. Constantly comparing your business to others is dangerous, just as comparing your baby’s development to others of a similar age is pointless.

* come to think of it, maybe becoming a parent is actually the ideal training ground for running a startup. Try it sometime!

Jemma Goba, Managing Partner & Founder, Tanami on startups and parenthood and the characteristics they share

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Published on: 25th August 2020

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