I’ve heard entrepreneurs, freelancers and business owners of all stripes talk about how they view their business. It’s pretty common to hear someone refer to her business as a baby — something to be nurtured, to watch grow and to take responsibility for.
Personally, I prefer to think of my business as a second spouse. I certainly see more of it than my husband (sorry, honey!). A big part of the thought process behind that description is the question of responsibility.
With babies, in particular, the responsibility you take on is very specific: you can’t ever walk away from a baby, no matter how long he’s been crying for and how many times he’s spit up on you. And if that baby screws up in any way, no matter how big, you’re stuck. There are positives to having a baby, of course — otherwise the human race would have died out long ago. But the question of responsibility is a big deal.
In contrast, the responsibilities you have to a spouse or a partner are very different: first and foremost, you choose the person you commit to on that level. With a baby, you get what you’re handed in terms of both personality and problems. But I’ve chosen my business — and I’ve picked what I’m willing to face along the way.
With a spouse or a partner, you’ve got more leeway to step back, as well. We don’t look too kindly on someone who ignores a baby for a couple of hours, but if you can’t let your partner out of your sight for a day or two, you’ve probably got some other problems to worry about. Even if my business isn’t ready to run entirely without my supervision, I can afford to take an occasional vacation and still be sure that I’ll have something when I come back. I can’t ignore it indefinitely (just like any relationship worth having, it takes work).
Ultimately, the moment any of us declare that we’re entrepreneurs, we have responsibilities to our business. Some are simple, like the obligation to just put in the necessary hours. Some are more complicated, like making the business a priority over other family members. But we do have responsibilities to our business and how we see those obligations can shape the type of business that we create. If you want a business that will eventually grow up and leave you — ideally through a sale or something similar — thinking of it as a baby or a child can have its uses. Personally, I want a business that can operate with out me on occasion but that will be with me for the long haul.
What about you?
Image by Flickr user Barnaby Wasson