Susan Guillory, an entrepreneur and a mom of two, wrote two separate advice columns 10 years apart about being a working mother starting her own company.
Guillory's first column described the struggle she faced trying to raise two children: her son, and her company, Egg Marketing and Public Relations.
"You’ve heard people compare starting a business to having a baby. It’s completely true," she wrote. "What I never accounted for was that my business became my son’s sibling in a sense."
Guillory went on to detail the difficulty she had when forced to choose between the two. She even admitted that sometimes her company would come first.
"Being an entrepreneur is hard to explain to a kid ... he doesn’t really understand the sacrifice, dedication and hardship it has required (not that I’d trade it for the world). I hope that one day when he’s older he can understand the joy of running his own business. Maybe when he becomes a parent," she wrote.
Ten years later, Guillory's son is now 13, and her business is 11. And she discovered how each child helped her raise and mold the other.
"I've seen a lot of parallels in nurturing them both over the years," she wrote in a column for Forbes.
Nurturing both her son and her business has also helped to adjust the strategies she applies to running a company. Guillory outlined her four perfected rules for running a company like a child:
1. One Critic Does Not Define Your Brand
"If I were to take my son's sullen, scowling silence to heart, I would think I was the worst mother in the world," Guillory wrote. "But instead I take it with a grain of salt. I know that he might not like me today, thanks to whatever invisible offense I gave, but tomorrow, things will be okay."
Guillory learned not to take criticism to heart when it comes to her company, as she realized that, like with her son, one bad review does not make you a bad businesswoman (or a bad mom).
"Know that some people—like teenagers—will never be happy; it's not your goal in life to try to make them so. Instead, focus on making the majority of your customer base content by providing stellar products or services and over-the-top customer service."
2. Take a No-Thank-You Bite
Guillory's "no-thank-you bite" derived from pushing her son to try new foods, only for him to immediately show his disgust and inevitably say "no, thank you."
The business equivalent to a no-thank-you bite is simply trying something new.
"In business, the best way to grow is to try new things. Maybe you test out selling a new product line or expand into other services. Perhaps you try reaching a new demographic. Even if it initially makes you uncomfortable (you're sure you'll want to spit out this bite), give it a try. If it sticks, I can say, 'I told you so.' If not, move on."
3. Say It in Five Words or Less
Guillory believes that teenage boys cannot process more than five words at a time, forcing parents to be ever so concise -- a concept she has applied also to her adult clients.
"As it applies to business, the real tip here is to boil down what you need to say to the core elements, be it on your website, in an email, or in a blog post. Forsake all the extraneous filler and fluff. What's important here? What does your customer care about? How do you help her?"
4. Put Money in the Bank
Literally and figuratively.
"With my son I do all sorts of things that don't immediately have a return on investment," she wrote. "I make deposits when I take him on a trip (that he grumbles about), have a (one-sided) conversation about what it means to be a man, or otherwise do something that I feel enhances him as a human being, or will do so down the road."
Guillory hopes to see these investments pay off in the future as her son realizes the efforts she has made.
And Guillory believes there are many ways to invest in a company's figurative piggy bank.
"It might be by getting a new website design, even if you feel like you can't really afford it. Attending a networking event. Hiring your first employee. Sometimes the things we do for our businesses don't have an immediate payoff, but if they're the right things, they will reap numerous rewards down the road."