What parenting can teach tech founders

Life as a singleton in the corporate world was a time-rich luxury, an easy road where decisions were made over a matter of weeks, with little or no consequence.

No one really noticed if the to-do list remained undone as everyone was busy. Salaries were paid and there were places to hide behind every jacket on every chair. Weekends were for box sets and long lunches with old friends.

Fast-forward to 2017 and life has changed dramatically. I’m now the co-founder of a startup, and it’s not my old corporate life that has set me up to manage the ups and downs of this journey.

“How do you do it?” people ask. “Four kids and running a tech startup? You must be mad.” But my life is the same at home or work – and it’s home that has prepared me for running a business.

I’m accountable to someone every minute, money is tight, and priorities change daily.

The minute you think “I’ve got this”, you’re thrown a curveball and all the planning for that particular phase of life goes out of the window. You can’t hide, and emotions run high. It’s time to get back to the drawing board, take a different view, and try again.

A/B testing? Easy. Trying two different parenting approaches, getting user feedback – are their shoes on or not? – and moving quickly to the next iteration when it has all gone wrong. At least with our company, Gift Wink, we have only one target market, who are more forgiving if we make a mistake. I’ve yet to be called an idiot or been told “I hate you” pre-6am by a customer.

I might not be the stereotype of a tech founder – a teenage boy in a garage or a computer science graduate – but that hasn’t held me back. Marketing is my background and I’m a natural organiser, two wonderful assets for both running a business and managing four kids. I have a strong emotional intelligence, which is a huge benefit when developing a product around gifting.

What I have learned throughout my career is that I was more than capable of making the leap to do something different. There are skills that don’t live on a CV, that can be utilised in your favour.

So if you’re sat at the corporate desk wanting a change, or you’re just bursting with ideas, you can make it happen. Make the most of the skills you have and the lessons learned outside the day job.

If you’re teetering on the edge of making the leap into a tech startup, you may have more relevant skills than you think.

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