September 24, 2023

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The similarities between entrepreneurship and parenthood are plentiful. With Mother’s Day weekend in the US, we asked EO members what lessons they’ve inadvertently learned through parenting their own children. Here’s what he shared:

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1. Be fearless

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It is remarkable to see the faith in my two children that everything will be okay. They trust others with a fearlessness that makes me want to go back in time to retrieve myself. They’re willing to try anything: food, new experiences, meeting people—they’re incredibly adaptable to change.

In entrepreneurship it is important to take risks and trust your intuition. As I parent them, I constantly remind them—and myself—to be fierce and fearless.

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– Veronique James, EO Arizona, Founder and CEO of The James Agency

2. Know how to say no

When my eldest son was barely old enough to talk, he would respond to some of our requests with, “I don’t want to do that,” in a very matter-of-fact way. It was as if he was saying, “Sorry, I’d love to help you, but this is beyond my control. I have no motivation or desire to do so.”

As an entrepreneur, you need to know when to say no if something isn’t in your skill set. Unfortunately, many of us learn that lesson the hard way. There are many opportunities available; It is important to focus on the best. A firm no is often just as important – if not more so – than saying yes.

— Brannon Poe, EO Charleston, Founder, Poe Group Advisors

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3. Ask Exactly What You Want

My youngest child is very determined. When she sets her mind on something, she finds it. He has taught me to dream big and never compromise. When she wants a toy, she is relentless. I wonder how at such a young age he has learned to say ‘Ask’ and has made it impossible for me or anyone else to say no. As an entrepreneur, it has taught me how to ask for exactly what I want and need.

—Liza Roeser, EO Idaho, Founder and CEO, Fifty Flowers

4. You’re more adaptable than you think

As a birth planner, I never planned on having a baby and starting a business at the same time. But this is how it happened: my daughter was born in April 2013; My first gym opened in June 2013. After two weeks of maternity leave, I started holding staff meetings at my home while breastfeeding and figuring out the new routine with the baby. After the gym opened, she slept in her car seat under the front desk while we worked from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week for the first year. It was impromptu, unplanned and totally hectic.

Looking back, I now realize that sometimes the best things in life are unplanned. My daughter is a happy, attractive and social girl. I’ve also learned that both he and I are more compatible than I thought!

– Alice Kao, EO Los Angeles, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Sender One Climbing

5. Sales is like having a conversation with your 5 year old

Five year olds are smarter than you think! And customers—even enterprise-level customers—aren’t as scary and sophisticated as they may seem. At bottom, we are all (5-year-old-ish) human beings with similar, basic needs for attention and acceptance.

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My biggest learning: First, do what they care about most. Second, be simple and clear on your position and proposal. Finally, maintaining a sense of calm and being polite when dealing with both children and customers goes a long way toward success.

– Andre Chandra, EO San Francisco, Founder and CEO, Propello Media

6. Provide customized solution

Your first born “beginner baby” comes without a playbook, so you explore parenthood, just like you explored entrepreneurship. Then again, if you’re lucky enough to have more kids, you might think you’re on an easier path. You got it because you’ve been through it once—right? no way. Just as no two businesses or customers are alike, no two children are alike. So, it’s back to the drawing board.

Many parenting lessons carry over into business. Customizing your solution to meet the individual needs of your customers is a big one. In parenting, this means that for one child, I may raise an eyebrow to correct their behavior, but for another, I may raise both my eyebrow and my voice and turn my head, But she just looks at me and says, “That’s a funny face, Mom.”

— Michelle Fish, EO Charlotte, Founder and CEO, Integra Staffing

This post originally appeared on EO’s channel and is reposted here with permission.

For more insight and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO Blog.

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