One of my best and dearest friends decided last year that she wanted to have a baby on her own. It wasn’t a “my eggs are dying” kinda thing or a “I don’t think I’ll ever meet my person” mindset – she’s 32 and just really wanted to be a mommy. Talk about making things happen and living your life on your terms.
Sometime shortly after she got pregnant, she asked if I would be with her at the birth as her birthing companion. Of course I said yes. And last week, her adorable 6 pound 11 ounce son was born in a cozy birthing center in a small town in the Northshore of Massachusetts. I was there to witness it all, through the pangs of labor to the tears of delight. And it was amazing and beautiful and life-changing.
I started to think about how birthing a baby is kind of like birthing a business, and while I have yet to be a mommy myself, I imagine that entrepreneurship and motherhood are more closely related than we might think.
Here are my takeaways:
Expect and accept that things take time. My friend was in labor for 34 hours – I’m sure she would have been okay if that time was cut in half. Sometimes we have to “labor” in our business for longer amounts of time than we like. We just want it to be done already – we want the results now and the pain to go away. The good news is this: the pain WILL go away and success will show up – but you have to stick with it. Know that it’s all a process and that that’s totally okay and to be expected.
Ask for more support than you think you need. During the labor, my friend had lots of people supporting her – me, her mom, a midwife and a doula. Did she need all of those people there? Probably not. Did having all of those people make the experience easier for her? Definitely. Whether you’ve been in business for a day or a few years, you need support and more importantly, you deserve support. You don’t need to earn support – we all deserve support and we deserve it today. So go and get yourself some helping hands asap.
Listen to your body. Whether you’re trying to make a decision or you’re feeling frustrated about the results (or lack thereof) within your business, your body often has the answers. What thoughts calm your body? What thoughts make you feel better? Your body has the answers for you. Listen to it. Labor was always more intense when my friend resisted what her body was saying. When she relaxed, things got easier immediately. The same goes for you and your business.
Take good care of yourself throughout. During the early stages of labor, we all had a Justin Timberlake dance party. At another point, the doula read soothing affirmations. Regardless of whether things are flourishing or floundering for you at this very moment, make self-care a constant in your life. Write your newsletter to candlelight, have your strategy calls while you sip your favorite wine, or buy a new outfit that you love for an upcoming networking event.
Create a plan, but be open to changes. My friend’s birthing plan went more or less as she had wanted and planned, but many a times, that’s not the case. Definitely make a plan of how you want your business to grow, but be open to what might come along the way (it could take you a place better than you had initially imagined!)
Above everything else, enjoy the process and congratulate yourself for going on this ridiculously cool and life-changing journey. And know that I’m sending you lots of virtual high-fives the whole way through.
Jordana Jaffe is the founder of Embarkability, a company that teaches women how to start and grow their own service-based businesses. You can receive Jordana’s free weekly newsletter here. To learn more about Jordana, visit her website, on Facebook, or Twitter.