In less than a week, I will no longer have a three-year-old. In fact, I will never have a three-year-old again until I am a grandmother. I have four children. So, I've had a three-year-old four different times — and the idea of not ever having another three-year-old is a concept that is unexplainably and uncontrollably heartbreaking to me.
I'm not sure what it is about the age of three that is so enlightening and magical. Perhaps because there is still such childlike wonder but the brain has started to develop so they're funny and they communicate and they're becoming tiny little people while still being your little baby.
As I sit and ponder my future without a three-year-old, I start to think this is something like having a successful business. Not quite as emotionally intense, but when you start your own business and you work so hard for it in the beginning, there's no sleep and it cries and it needs everything you have to give it. You just keep loving it and caring for it in every way possible.
Then you start to learn its cues and it starts to learn your voice. You then enter the toddler years where every once in a while, it can walk on its own but you have to stand by because it's going to fall on its butt eventually. Then it turns three and you start to realize it needs you less and less. It's got its own personality. It's funny, but it’s still your baby and it still wants to crawl into your lap and snuggle sometimes. It still needs you to read it a bedtime story and make sure it takes a bath.
The thing is, that development continues and the next thing you know, your three-year-old is 12. Yes, I have one of those too. And, at the age of 12, they're really quite capable of doing everything on their own; they sort of run like a well-oiled machine. You've done all the hard work to get them ready and now you mostly get to sit back and watch them function. But, sometimes they like to snuggle too; so there's that. And you need to make sure to monitor their social media use because you never know what a pre-teen's getting into these days.
So, the reality of it is, having children and having a business really aren't that different from one another. Throughout each stage, they need different things and, sometimes, they need the same things but maybe in different ways. You have to listen and pay attention and do the things that are new and exciting because if you don't grow with them, they'll grow without you one way or another. For a business, this could mean it grows right out of your hands. It could mean it dies. For a child, it could mean it doesn't need you anymore or doesn't want you around.
The important thing to remember is that in business, like parenthood, the most important thing is to love and nurture. Be real. Be authentic and make sure they always feel loved and supported. And don’t forget to enjoy watching them flourish and grow, it happens fast!