Mompreneur’s Pre-Flight Checklist

Over the last few weeks, pulling off all my various roles has been hard.  Being a mom requires a lot of patience recently, and a number of extended family issues need my attention.  At the same time, as a mompreneur, my prototype is heating up, and I am ready to pull out from the gate and move forward.  The parallels of managing my family in real life with piloting my entrepreneurial venture are striking.

I am sure that all of you have experienced one of those crazy Thanksgiving Dinners, overbearing family get-together, or the dreaded funeral of a loved one to know what I am speaking about.  One of those occasions where you would say there are too many cooks in the kitchen or perhaps too many strong personalities in the room.  At a time where there are many people and personalities present, typically, one person has to take charge, mange the ebb and flow of the overall event, and chart the course.

My prototype team consists of 2 designers and me.  We work fabulously well together and the creative energies are always amazing.  As we near the final prototype and make necessary decisions about some of the smaller (but major in importance) details, I need to take chart the course.  Most of these final decisions will directly affect manufacturing options and cost which is my department (after all it will be my product as part of my business).  It is a very fine line not to disrupt the creative collaboration going on, just like no one likes to spoil Thanksgiving Day by completely taking over.  After all, you need the whole family to have a memorable and special event, and the same goes for my prototype, I need and adore my creative team.

I also know that I need to take-off soon, so we need to start finalizing decisions.  Think about this for a moment:  You know the feeling of boarding a plane and then just sitting on the runway waiting for takeoff?  Any variety of reasons can lead to the waiting: needing a repair, refueling, de-icing, or simply waiting for a turn to take-off.  Whatever the reason, this time always seems endless and is extremely frustrating, but necessary.  Obviously, if you took off without fuel or covered in ice, the outcome is up in the air.

The beginning stages of developing a product requires a lot of sitting on the vast and long creative runway.  Just like the pilot cannot repair the plane or de-ice the wings before take-off, there are many parts of the creative process that I cannot do myself.  At this particular juncture, we are at a crucial point in deciding a material and hardware selection.  My designers are helping me flush out which options will fly and which ones will not.  It is very hard not to go off course with this and be distracted by other families of materials.  We must stay on target.  I am standing out there with my imaginary orange light sticks directing the project to the gate because once we select the material, it is time for a test flight.

Here is a quick checklist of some pre-creative flight items that I have found helpful:

  • Before starting a creative journey with a team, lay out the format for communicating and tracking progress among each other.
  • After a meeting, spend some time thinking progress through before charting the next plan.  Allowing yourself time to think about the project before making snap decisions will cut down on flight maintenance/repair later on.
  • Keep a flight journal!  After you have thought about the meeting, chart notes that the whole team reviews about your current direction and plan.
  • Do not pull out of the gate without checking everything of your to-do list.  This is the hardest part — waiting on the proverbial runway while you make sure that every step is taken to have a safe flight.

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