Birthing Babies & Businesses

I seem to have a knack for birthing babies and businesses at the same time.  Blaming the hormones as a cause of a healthy dose of insanity, I launched my first business almost nine years ago when my now nine-year-old son was a newborn. 

Our second child, a girl, came three years behind her brother. She was a well thought out and planned decision.  Her current personality actually reflects this truth. No businesses were birthed during her arrival but taking a leap to go beyond myself and out of the desire to integrate home and work in a way that was meaningful and purposeful for me, I hired my first employee when she was a newborn. 

Fast-forward several years later, and my husband had convinced me we were done with babies.   We had two children, a boy and a girl, two thriving careers, a home, and a dog. What more could we need?  But, of course, my heart was telling me something, and after much prodding, my husband got on board as well.  I wrote about this decision in a blog post about Using Your Heart Not Your Head

Our third child arrived almost to the minute of when our son started third grade and our daughter started kindergarten.  Not what I had planned. He was to stay in place until after I walked my ‘baby” who would no longer be the baby, into her first day of real school. 

For the well planned out people we thought we were, this third child a boy, and the events so far of 2020, has proven to show us that sometimes planning is actually the worst thing you can do.  It impedes risks and can lead us to over rationalize, keeping us from making decisions and steps forward especially ones that come from the heart. 

Of course, with this child being a boy, birthing a business had to come along with him. The new business was formally incorporated not a week after I found out I was pregnant with him, and we have spent much of 2020 albeit remotely, breathing life into the idea and goals of this new venture.  We would launch into a plan, then stop and change course more times than I can count in response to the ever-changing world and challenges around us. 

Our new “baby”, MatchFIT, takes me down a different path than the first one.  This one requires even more risks than the first to be able to capitalize on the need to scale and scale quickly and to bring a team together at a faster pace than one every two to three years.  Just like the third child brings about more challenges than just the one. We are playing zone defense now, not man to man.  Of course, the business launch has hit a time when our product, a hiring tool, seems to be unnecessary when most businesses aren’t hiring.  

Should we just quit? I’ve thought that more times than I can count. But our heart has told us to keep moving forward because we are passionate about our purpose. 

Our need for moving forward sent us down a path of applying for Alabama Launchpad for seed funding. We made it to the finals last week and pitched our idea to the judges and then live through a social media streamed event.  It was a risk, and we lost.  

As my husband said, we literally lost to sh*t, as the winner was a compost company.  The people running the venture we lost to were far from sh*t, though.  They seemed to be genuinely nice guys with a passion and heart for their business idea.  It was almost impossible not to be happy for them. 

At the heart of this business and its start-up are the core values of innovation and creativity. We help organizations and job seekers also define their core values and find opportunities and relationships that allow for workplace engagement to take shape. 

I find myself engaging in the best of myself when I live out innovation and creativity, even though it forces more risk-taking, especially because it requires more risk-taking.  And with risk-taking also comes the risk of embarrassment –  of literally losing to sh*t, live and publicly. 

Just like the decision to have our third child, applying for Launchpad and pursuing a business venture amidst a global pandemic and global unrest seems to be a huge risk. 

But what often seems counterintuitive from the outside looking in is usually an active process that is occurring from the inside out. One that is a step out in faith. One governed by living out the values that make us and businesses unique and allow us each to thrive. 

More often than not, these steps out in faith lead to more joy than each of us can possibly contain.  The joy our third son brings to our lives is contagious, and the joy I felt despite the loss via Launchpad, in innovating and creating in a collaborative way with my business partner and the team at MatchFIT is full of joy in the journey. 

I told the team we’d lick our wounds of loss over the weekend and then rise this week having learned and grown, thankful for the experience and exposure Alabama Launchpad has given us.  But most especially, for the opportunity to live out our workplace values in the process, and to be a business that helps others discover workplace relationships that do the same. 

 

Do your organization and your life decisions allow you to live out your values?

Mary Ila Ward

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