When Keith and I were married, we had to go through precana, a type of marriage counseling through the Catholic church. We talked about all kinds of things from finances to which side of the bed we would sleep on. One topic we did not hit:
Our first co-creation would not be a baby, but our business.
Yep. That was it. We had talked about kids, but had not realized that Kohrs Orthodontics would be our “first baby.” Like having real kids (which we did later!), you are never really prepared for all that will happen until it actually happens. You can plan all you want and dream and vision, but you will never fully experience being a business owner until you are already in the thick of it.
When Keith got out of his orthodontic residency, we bought an existing two and a half day a week practice. We grew through the infancy with the joy of first time parents. We embraced everything new, every “first” was documented with metrics and transaction reports. It was all exciting, even that unannounced OSHA inspection in the first year! (More on that in a later blog post...) We did all of that with Keith at the helm of the business and me at a more than full time position in an environmental geology firm.
A new baby is also time consuming. Keith did the heavy lifting for the first few years while I enjoyed my own career path. I assisted as a sounding board and coconspirator, but never anything more. I mean we were married... wasn’t that enough? That answer was yes until our child required more attention as it grew.
As our daughters grew and my career path switched to a stay-at-home mom, my time became more flexible. Suddenly we all had a role to play in raising this tween named Kohrs Orthodontics. Keith and I were still the parents, guiding and providing for this child. Our girls played their parts as siblings, supporting this child at events and as living marketing bait.
Over time, this baby had become a teenager and it was time for us to stop helicopter parenting (read micromanaging) and give it space. Over 15 years later, our little two and half day baby has grown to 4 locations with almost 15 employees! That didn’t happen overnight and it certainly didn’t happen on its own; although looking back sometimes it seemed like it had (How do I rewrite the past like that?).
No matter how big (or small) of a role you play in the office, at the end of the day, it is still a family business. What a great opportunity it was for Keith and me to see what we could co-create when we put out heads and hearts together. As our marriage grew, so did our baby. Looking back, the reverse is true as well; our baby helped grow our marriage. We structured our vision on our personal values and followed that up with sweat and tears.
I encourage you to take a step back and view your own business as one of your family. This perspective change may shift how you view not only your role, but where your business falls on the growth chart. Is it learning to crawl, learning to walk, becoming a teenager, or on it’s way to living its own life. Is it time for you to step in or step out? Each child is different. How will you parent yours?