Five things my infant taught me about business management

Sleepless nights, endless feedings, and piles of laundry… babies get a bad reputation for being a lot of hard work (which they are), but there are fun-filled days, endless giggles, and the cutest little outfits you’ve ever seen (does that come in my size!?)

Babies also have lots to teach us, if we’re open to it. In the eight months since my pint-sized business consultant arrived on the planet, she’s reminded me of five important business management lessons:

Get back to basics – A fancy, shiny toy might be popular with baby, but it could just as easily fail to deliver. There’s no guarantee that something you think will be fun will actually entertain your baby for very long. Do you want to know something that never fails to delight? Peek-a-boo. Plain and simple, peek-a-boo requires nothing fancy and makes babies everywhere laugh. The same goes for your business. Focus on what works and what your clients value most in your business. Take a good, hard look at the core of your offering and do more of what works. Don’t worry that the other guys are offering something fancier and shinier.

Consistency is key – Want to help baby fall asleep and stay asleep? I’ve learned that bedtime routines (and routines in general) help remove the uncertainty in a baby’s new little life, which makes them happier and better rested. Consistency is key. The same goes for managing a brand. Delivering a consistently positive experience for customers is the foundation on which strong brands are built. Make a promise to your customers and then work your hardest to meet and exceed expectations in every interaction you have with them. Doing this consistently is the only way to forge a strong brand in the minds of consumers.

Anticipate ways to improve the overall experience  Anticipating needing a change of clothes or an extra toy while out with baby can make a big difference to the overall experience for both of you. The same can be said for the experience of your customers. What will take their experience with you over the top? What will impress them so much that they’ll tell their friends and colleagues about it? How can you add delight to a common customer experience? The good news is that it’s often achieved through very low cost, creative means.

It takes a village – It’s often said that raising a child ‘takes a village’: a community of family and friends who will be there to give you a break, advice, or a home-cooked meal when it’s most needed. It’s important not only to ask for help with baby, but in business too. This includes delegating tasks to others, even if you find it difficult to do so. By trying to do everything yourself, you’ll drown in work and undermine the authority of your colleagues. We all have individual strengths we bring to a team – play to your strengths and find people who can make up for your weaknesses.

Start with why – Most new parents begin to grasp the ‘what’ of everyday life with baby (changing, feeding, sleeping, playing), as well as the ‘how’ (the little tricks that make doing all of the above easier). But it’s also important to take a step back and acknowledge the ‘why’. Why are we parents? Why do our little ones need us? Running a business is no different. Thought leader Simon Sinek has written an entire book on the topic (Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action), which details how to let the ‘why’ (purpose/vision) drive business decisions. By starting with why, you’ll develop greater clarity for what matters most, so the ‘how’ and ‘what’ will come from a more genuine and enjoyable place. If you don’t have time to read the book, check out Sinek’s 18-minute TED Talk by the same name: https://tinyurl.com/startwithwhysinek

So there you have it – five lessons from the world’s youngest business consultant.

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Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.