I consider myself an ambitious person. I have an exciting new business, and a wonderful growing, chaotic family life. When I thought about becoming an entrepreneur, especially as a parentpreneur and new small business owner, I initially thought that our success would be due to good luck and good decisions. But that’s definitely not the case. Life is not that pristine. In the startup and parenting worlds alike, one of the best skills that I have developed is the ability to try, fail, get up, and try again. It may sound counterintuitive to say that failure leads to success, but in my experience, the more open you are to trying new things – no matter how they turn out the first time – the closer you are to succeeding in your goals. But you’ve got to pay attention and let each failure teach you a lesson.
For example, a brand new business is a messy place to work. Things are changing constantly – don’t get me wrong, they’re changing for the better. Every day my employees and I try to figure out how to do something better. Sometimes we try something, push hard and then abandon it all together. Even though we’ve not even been open one year, we’ve changed countless things about Wiggle & Work and I don’t regret a single call because making decisions that were ultimately wrong led to the right ones. Parentpreneur Life Lesson: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes!
So what makes failure useful? It’s been important to pay attention to what does and doesn’t work as well as keep a continual line of communication open with my employees, working hard to support our dream and our families. We have a constant dialogue, analyzing each day and even each coworking and childcare session to see what worked well and what needs improvement. We also take customer feedback very seriously. Without these techniques, failure may as well just stay failure. There is always room to learn and grow.
It sounds counterintuitive but in a lot of ways building a business and raising children that have similar processes even though they’re totally different. Both are life-altering endeavors, neither should be taken on lightly. Traditional wisdom says that one has to take away from the other in order to work, but that is fundamentally untrue. In fact, a career can deeply enrich your parenting and conversely, parenting can improve your career. I wrote a blog post about this that you can read here. Both take a lot of patience, a lot of money, and a lot of trial and error.
When my son began on solid foods, I was a total stress case about it, and in turn, I had so much trouble getting my son to eat nutritious, diverse and balanced foods. For me, baby-led feeding, was an obviously must. Failed. Homemade purees, of course, none of that store bought stuff. Failed again. Reading books, eh, worked sometimes, but eventually…failed. At one point, I would even follow him around with a spoon or fork as he played trying to coax nourishment into his mouth. Last ditch effort — the dreaded big screen. TV. Sometimes it worked, but not long-term, an ultimate FAIL! Getting my son to eat was a full fledged parenting fail. It was when I finally cleared space on our dining table. Turned the TV off and made everyone sit down together…I saw a glimmer of hope. It didn’t work — at least not right away — but each evening, dinner would begin to get easier. My son began asking to try different foods. Eating what he was served, sometimes even asking for more. And now, even though at 3 years old, it is definitely still a struggle to get him to eat a diverse, well-balanced, nutritious and complete meal, I now know what works and what doesn’t. And that is a big part of the even bigger battle. Now, with my daughter just beginning to eat solids, it’s been a blessing to already know how to succeed…at least I hope. My past parenting failure suddenly feels like wisdom and that’s a great feeling.
Failing. Over and over. Many see failure as something to avoid, but failure is only the end of the road if you let it be. My repeated attempts and failings have led me down this parentpreneur path with a thriving startup, an incredible family and a fulfilling life. I share some of my failures in hopes that this way of failing can other parents and entrepreneurs find knowledge and growth in their own failures and ultimately lead to success.