Thursday, 29 November 2012

Business Magnate


Ten years ago I decided to become the boss of a small business. The staff was minimal – just me, one part-timer (the Vicar) and a couple of advisors. The overheads, however, were enormous. Eye-watering figures were spent investing in infrastructure and researching core strategies. But what I hadn't bargained for was the emotional cost: the sleepless nights; the anxiety when projected deliverables failed and the fear that storm clouds would scupper my blue-sky thinking.

I wonder why it has taken everyone else until this week to realise that parenthood and corporate management are the self-same thing. Mothers, some expert has belatedly acknowledged, are essentially CEOs of a small business – it's just that the assets are infants and the core product body fluids.

Why, (also this week) it was calculated that over seven days during Christmas we CEO mothers perform £2,500 worth of work, ranging from chef to chauffeur. What a triumph it is for the sisterhood to know that their notional pay places us almost on a par with the British prime minister!

There are many souls, of course, who are not born with the entrepreneurial spirit and who fear the cut-throat world of family management. And there are yet more who have taken the plunge and feel adrift in a competitive climate that demands year-on-year yields alongside sustainable human resources.

My advice is to trust your own instincts and to master the jargon. Once you're fluent in corporate lingo, noone will point out that you, like they, haven't a clue what you're doing. Here, to get you started, is a brief glossary of essential terms: 

First-mover advantage: get your baby in before the rest of your social circle so you have first dibs on the best girls' names/godparents/trust funds before the pool runs dry.

Assess core competencies: do you possess the patience of a prophet? Can you rise unflustered in the small hours and simultaneously change a soaked cot and soothe a soiled banshee? Can you put in an 18-hour day on four hours of sleep? Can you vacuum a hallway while latching on a newborn?

A paradigm shift from high-level to drill-down mode: stop dreaming over the JoJoMamanBebe catalogues; it's time to focus on how to disengage body parts from the breast pump.

Update your go-to-market strategy: nip out and buy a bumper box of Thorntons to safeguard cherished friendships when you discover that no known chemical can shift the residue of baby poo from your neighbour's seagrass matting.

Think mission-critical: learn what matters. Which is an unimpeded evening of Strictly Come Dancing; three nights a week in a bed without a baby in it; Pinot Grigio in the medicine cabinet; Tena Lady.

Leverage the propisition: persuade your partner to accept the urgency of the above.

Gain traction: elbow a route into the outstanding primary school in the next town. 

Enable Push-back: oblige a recalcitrant toddler/tweenager, through threats or bribery, to engage with spinach/algebra.  

Upskill: Train your partner to detect a full nappy with a forefinger, change the bucket of Napisan, locate the TV off-button at feed time, operate the Hoover and put the bins out so you can hoof off to All Bar One.

Multiply your assets: have another baby while the going's good.

Experienced household CEOs are bound to have more technical insights. Share them here...


17 comments:

  1. Delegation i.e. Staff and 'There are no problems without solutions' as a mantra.

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    Replies
    1. Good point. Esoecially if you delegate the solutions to the staff. It was my mistake to hire only a part-time causal!

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  2. Getting your baby in first has many more benefits - your still single friends will love the novelty of it and come round to play (as opposed to mine who are planning to meet me in five years time for coffee when I can get away). The grandparents are fresh and young enough to want to pitch in. You are out the other end and partying again before you hit 40.

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    Replies
    1. It's true. Although, having spent years envying those who had kids younger than I did, I'm now glad mine are still small and sweet and no longer long for the liberation of my 50s as I used to.

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  3. Performance management: establish a disciplinary procedure and consistently execute escalating steps of action dependent on the level of misdemeanor. Stop short of actual summary dismissal unless you feel ready to go it alone...

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  4. In times of crisis, could I downsize? Could I shed some of my assets? Or do I have to wait till they're 18, when natural wastage will occur?

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    Replies
    1. Brilliant. I think you have a whole blog post in you on this theme!

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  5. Lol, had me chuckling I was educating our Head of OD at work this week that corporate management is just like parenting! Mich x

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    Replies
    1. See? Why it was billed as a newsworthy discovery this week I do not know. We mothers have known it for centuries!

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  6. I second the delegation rule. Plus correct waste management is compulsory if you want to avoid an entire upgrade on carpets across the business.

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  7. May I suggest the addition of health and safety? I.e be able to locate calpol within a 3 second time limit and scream at offspring about to fall off climbing frame from distance of 50 m. (anon rach)

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    Replies
    1. How could I have forgotten H&S! Excellent suggestion.

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