When I have been making presentations I have often espoused the idea that women have a number of skills that are valuable in running a business.
I have praised their abilities in multitasking versus the single thread approach of men. One only has to watch a mother getting a child ready for school to see how she can get them dressed while getting breakfast, loading the washing machine and preparing the packed lunch.
It is not surprising that men are much more single thread in their approach. From the beginning of time they have been largely tasked with one thing to do. In the beginning it was to go and capture a sabre-tooth tiger for dinner and then to sit back and wait to be fed. Today the tiger may be an office or some other workplace, but the DNA is still operating as it did all those years ago!
Again, because of the training that handling a family budget has given them, women are much better at running the finances of their business and of being much more frugal with start-up funds. This frugal approach is also helped by a woman’s natural instinct of being much more calculating when it comes to risk taking.
But all of this I have said many times before. Now I have a new reason for admiring women and the skills they have that can assist entrepreneurship.
Recently my wife had a major operation from which she has now recovered. However, for four weeks she had to lie in bed for two hours and then walk for fifteen minutes, aided by me, before returning to bed for a further two hours.
I was happy to care for her, but it meant that, along with my own work I had to cook, clean, go shopping, wash clothes, dry and iron clothes, go to the bank and so on.
I can hear you questioning why shouldn’t a man do these things and I have assisted in all of these areas in the past, but the real epiphany came when I started to recognise that I was having to do these tasks, but in a way that a young mother would have to.
Suddenly, instead of doing things when I felt like it, my life was condensed into a number of two-hour chunks. This seemed to be a bit like a mother that has to deliver and fetch a young child.
For me to survive I suddenly had to be totally organised and my day had to be much more planned than ever before. I had to not only plan, but also make sure that each two hours was fully utilised and that nothing overrun into the fifteen-minute walk period between her rests.
I have to say that time for me to rest usually came as my head hit the pillow at the end of the day and it also became clear that many of the tasks were repetitive. However, repetitive or not they needed to be done or a backlog of tasks soon appeared.
By the end of four weeks I had a newfound admiration for women but I also recognised that this ability would really benefit men in business if they could master it.
Many things in business are repetitive and often less attractive than other tasks. However, they are essential to the smooth running of the business. If you don’t invoice or order new stock, if you don’t answer customer emails, if you don’t ship on time then the business suffers.
It may well be in the DNA of men that they ‘cannot walk and chew gum at the same time’, but our lives are not simply about killing the sabre-toothed tiger once a week. I for one know that I cannot return to my old ways even though my wife has returned to good health.
Being more organised has allowed me to achieve so much more in a day. It has also made me look at little more admiringly at mothers when I see them out and about. However, I still haven’t worked out why they always look far less stressed than me when I am filling my two hours!