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Proud papa: Running my first business felt just like raising a child

I gave birth to my first business when I was 19. Other entrepreneurs tried to warn me: The sleepless nights. The constant feeding and care. The total dependency. The lack of downtime. The effect on social activities. The constant worrying.

I thought I would feel a sense of ownership – like what I had belonged to me.

Instead, I felt an unconditional commitment – a sense that I was working on something that would be much bigger and better than me. My business was its own living and breathing thing, closely related to me, but not mine.

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If my business needed me to sacrifice, I did. If it had me up at all hours, I got no sleep.

Soon, it was walking and talking and exploring new directions. It was asking questions, going through growth spurts and, sometimes, acting downright silly.

I must admit, it embarrassed me a few times in public.

It would surprise me in good ways and bad. It kept growing.

Before I knew it, it was off learning and achieving things that didn't require as much of me.

Other people started to help look after it, give it what it needed and get it through tough times. They taught it things I didn't know.

These people treated the business as if it were their own. They let me sleep in every now and then. The extra care and attention worked like a lever to let it expand and be all that it could be.

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Before I knew it, it had graduated and merged with its soulmate. Everyone shared in the benefit and the celebration. It was starting a new life on its own.

Looking back, I really didn't know the amazing effect my first business would have on my life and those of others, but I'm a proud papa. There is really no way to describe it if you haven't done it. If you have, there is no feeling like it.

Unlike a real child, you must rationalize its likelihood of success and be willing to adjust accordingly.

But like a real child, it taught me many things I never realized I needed to learn. And it made me want another.

The parallels have frequently occurred to me along the way and have been echoed by others who have travelled down a similar path.

If you've ever wondered what running a business is like, maybe this is something that might help explain why entrepreneurs feel such passion for and commitment to their endeavours.

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Special to The Globe and Mail

Chris Griffiths is the Toronto-based director of fine tune consulting, a boutique management consulting practice. Over the past 20 years, he has started or acquired and exited seven businesses.

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