When we have a baby we expect to look after it for a long time. When we have a business of our own we feel much the same.
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In fact, it's fair to say that the new business needs nurturing, just as a new baby does. But how long does the parenting phase need to last in business, and how far is too far when it comes to looking after our beloved venture?
The early stages – what your business needs from you in its infancy -
Some say that during the first three years of its life a business needs to be supported by you, thereafter the roles will reverse and it will look after you. This time frame is only a suggestion and it depends largely on the type of business you have set up. However, as a guideline it's useful.
Are you stifling your business with too much 'love'?
When your business is new you may well be expected to provide it with a lot of support. This could be in terms of money, putting in your own cash until such time as the business turns profits. In terms of time, you may well find yourself working unusual hours and even longer ones than you would in nine to five employment. That's fine. But when should you stop? In essence you should keep supporting your business all the time it need you, but if you've fallen into the trap of mollycoddling your company you may well be blind to how productive it really is.
Many parents make this mistake with their children, especially when they reach young adulthood. The parents who constantly rescue their kids and pay for their mistakes breed a generation of people who are incapable of fending for themselves. Do this with your business and it will never be able to support you.
Passion – Can you have too much?
Passion is a good thing and when you are ardent about your project it certainly makes a difference. But are you going overboard. And are you compensating in areas where your business isn't quite cutting it. If you've been in business a fairly long while, say over five years but you're still topping up the pot with money from a personal source then you need to analyze why this is. Stop rescuing your business and look for ways increase productivity and profits.
You might be babying your business if:
- It's costing you money instead of earning you money.
- You can't stop thinking about it when you are away from it.
- You proudly show everyone photographs of it – "Here's a picture of its first ever sales invoice." Just kidding, but you get the gist.
- You don't trust anyone to look after it for the day while you have time off.
There's nothing wrong with being enthusiastic about your business, in fact a real love of what you do is essential to success. But have you heard the term 'killing with kindness'? Keep a balance. Yes, you are your business, but you are many other things as well, being parent to your company is just one role that you play in life.