Six Business Lessons My Six Year Old Helps Me Remember
It's not often that I get personal about my family here on Modern Soapmaking. Some of my little soapy tribe knows that I'm a mother of three (soon to be four) daughters - a six year old, a five year old, and a two & a half year old. In the past two months, my oldest daughter has been rocking my world with business lessons and reminders - she doesn't even know it.
Six Business Lessons My Six Year Old Helps Me Remember
I never thought I would learn business lessons from a first-grader, but here I am, reflecting on what this little one has taught me. And in some cases, rather than teaching me a lesson, she's teaching me to remember - to pay attention and to hold onto business lessons I've learned before. Let's see if she can do the same for you:
1.) Sometimes, you have to get outside help to find the right key to start the engine.
We always planned to homeschool our kids, and we started officially last year. I loved the flexibility, and enjoyed the time watching their little brains suck up knowledge like sponges. However, no matter what I seemed to do, I couldn't get Elysia reading. Heck, I could hardly get her to even try to read. She knew her letters, and their sounds, and even could write them, but reading? No, that was not happening. Despite trying all sorts of curriculum types and structures, I came to the realization that this was not working for either of us. Our little family made the difficult (for us) decision to enroll her in public school this fall. It hasn't been easy, by any means, but the difference was immediate. In just two short months, she has gone from absolutely not reading at all to sounding out words like tortoise and colosseum.
We don't always have all the answers, and that's totally okay. What's important is that you do what you need to do to get it done. I'm always telling people to outsource business tasks, and pay other people to do what they do best rather than trying to DIY every-little-thing. And if you can't fully outsource something you struggle with, you need to reach out for help. There's nothing wrong with not knowing or not being able to do something yourself, there's no shame in that. But that doesn't stop it from needing to get done, whether that's marketing or branding or selling.
2.) You have to be confident & put yourself out there.
If anything, Elysia is a social butterfly. She's always the first one to
walk run up to other kids on the playground and introduce herself. She's unabashedly obsessed with princesses, and her favorite color is pink. She often gets told she's bossy because she speaks her mind. (That's my girl!) While it certainly was a wake-up call that school is not all playtime and friends, she has been fearless in making friends and trying new things. She wakes up every morning excited to see what the day holds, and practically throws herself out the front door.
The biggest part of business that I have struggled with from Day One has always been putting myself out there. I've written about the struggles I've had in business with anxiety. And despite how outgoing I might seem to be, I'm really a quiet keep-to-myself kind of person. But in business, you have to jump over those obstacles. You absolutely must ditch the fear factor of meeting new people and trying new things. No one is going to network for you, or sell your products for you, or be the face of your brand. That's your job.
3.) The longer you wait to deal with things, the more tangled they can get.
I don't know if you have ever tried to get a six year old to brush her hair, but enough said. Seriously. You would think the hairbrush had six tentacles and fangs, and sucks your brains right out of your head. This is a constant struggle with little E, and sometimes, I admit it, I give in. I put off dealing with the meltdown of putting a brush in contact with her head, and then what happens? You find yourself sitting there at the dinner table, and glance up to see a tangled bird's nest of doom sitting on your six year old's head. Horrifying.
Business isn't any different. That thing you hate doing? Whether it's bookkeeping or writing blog posts or sending email newsletters.... the longer you put off handling that nonsense, the worse it's going to get. For me, it's dealing with my inbox. I have to be honest, and say that when I travel (like I did a lot of this summer), I hardly touch my email. Seemingly out of nowhere, it becomes a tangled web of hundreds of emails that feel like a soul-crushing amount of work to sift through. In business, you absolutely must put on your big girl panties (sure, throw a mini-tantrum first) and then handle it like a boss.
4.) Take creative aim & think outside the box.
Every bone in E's body is a creative one, and it shows. She loves to paint, draw, color, cut and paste, and on and on. But where her creativity really shines is how she tackles problem-solving or thinks outside the box to try and get her way. (That's a six year old thing, as a whole, I think!) It blows me away to watch her little brain work.
Somewhere along the line of becoming big ole boring adults, we stop thinking as creatively when solving our problems. Things go from Point A to Point B and that's just how it works.
Instead of looking at the ways you can improve a long-standing business process, is there a better way to get where you are going? Are there ways to be stronger, smarter, faster than where you stand right now?
For instance, I get asked a lot about productivity and I've found that a lot of people don't do well with scheduling their time. Yet, they keep trying to schedule their time. That doesn't make sense - find a different way to manage your time. Try time-blocking (more broad and generic scheduling) instead of hard scheduling. Try time tracking (you might be more conscientious of how you spend your time, if you know you have to face the music). Try the rule of three. Etc!
5.) Play in the rain when you get the chance.
Out of our three girls, Elysia is the first one to be out in the rain, running through puddles, and having a good time. She is constantly making goofy faces, using silly voices, and having the time of her life. And if you ever want to convince her to get something done, all you have to do is make it a comical game or act a fool while doing it. When you get super serious and pushy, you lose her - she's out.
As entrepreneurs, we all work our asses off and often forget to take a little time to laugh. I know that I take myself far too seriously, sometimes, and that starts to wear thin on my attitude towards my work. Especially because when the metaphorical crap hits the fan, I immediately get grouchy and grumbly instead of flipping it over to see the light or make it a funny situation. Yes, hustle your biz, but throw in some dance breaks, staring contests, and silliness for good measure. Do not ever stop having fun. That no-fun line? That's where business becomes work rather than love.
6.) Take it one step at a time & celebrate your wins.
When we moved to public schooling, our nightly routine for homework stuck out at a horrendous length of three hours. Eventually, it worked best for us to break her homework down into tiny bite size pieces, consumable at one piece at a time. We started to make an extremely conscious effort to stay enthusiastic and keep the work fun, even when we were literally enduring twenty minutes of homework avoidance on her part. Once she started to realize that we could do a little at a time, and that finishing each part was a small win (yay, this is done! next!), the struggle eased up.
In business, I often see soapmakers making the same mistake. Instead of breaking down their goals into consumable pieces, they hang a looming cloud over their heads. Want to build a website for your brand? Fabulous. Start with registering your domain. Or purchasing the hosting. Or selecting the platform. One step at a time! If you set huge ominous goals, they will feel too daunting to take on. Break your goals down and work on them, piece by piece. And each time you knock one of those mini-goals out of the park, celebrate it.
There are probably hundreds of other business lessons (and life lessons!) that all three of my girls teach me or remind me of on a constant basis: enthusiasm is contagious, staying curious is important, failure can always be a success, and on it goes. If you have little ones in your life or maybe they're grown now, what are some business lessons you've snagged from their little heads and hands? Leave a comment below and share it up!
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