How to Survive Transition in Your Business

In Chronicles of a CEO by Rebecca Liston

Talk to a midwife, entertain a doula for lunch, or read any book ever written about child birth and you will find a great deal of information about something called “transition.”

Now why on earth do I feel you need to know about this important stage of labour?

Because you are birthing your business, my friends, and it is absolutely no different than birthing a baby.

Labour pains in business might be defined as the pain of looking at your calendar and seeing that you have no clients booked. It might be the time when you bounced a cheque, or had your credit card declined. It might be the time you agonized over your logo, your fonts, or your web design. It could even be the time you argued with your spouse about the money involved in growing the business, or had to stand up for yourself in a room full of “employed” people who thought you didn’t really “have” a job.

Labour pains are incredible…painful, yes, but also an indication that you are moving ahead, that business is rolling like the waves of a contraction. If you just keep breathing, you can make it through.

And then comes the stage of transition.
Sheila Kitzinger, in the Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, describes transition perfectly:
“Toward the end of the first stage of labour…you are in transition. For most women the very end of the first stage is stormy and challenging. Contractions follow each other relentlessly with hardly a pause between…The build-up of energy with each may be so sudden and tumultuous that there is no time for slow breathing and you must adapt straight away…The very length of the contractions may demand every bit of concentration and determination you are able to summon, and you will need strong emotional support and unfailing encouragement. …you may even feel nauseous and actually vomit…you may shake uncontrollably…you may hold your breath…You may suddenly feel that it is all too much hard work and that you really cannot go on and would like to go home and forget all about having a baby.”


Transition in business, as it is in birth, is a stormy time…no time to breathe, hard to concentrate, feeling like you are being swept along some path you are not so sure you want to trod any longer.

It’s defined in business as the times you dream of punching the clock at the Ford plant, feeling it would be so much easier.

It’s the moments when you envy people their regular pay cheque.

It’s the seconds when you think that starting your own business was the single worst decision you ever made; when you begin to understand why your family thinks you are nuts.

It’s the times when you scream, “I can’t do this anymore! It’s too frigging hard!” And you just want to pack it all in and go home (and never come back!)

And boy oh boy, have I ever been there!

But what got me through it?

As Kitzinger says, “…you will need strong emotional support and unfailing encouragement.”

It’s as simple as that…sort of.

And where do you find such support and unfailing encouragement?

Your family thinks your business venture is crazy, your spouse sees dollar signs every time you try to talk to him/her, and the cat, well, the cat has other more pressing issues at hand such as where you hid the catnip.

Like a woman in labour needs her midwives and doulas, you need a team of support, too, to help you as you transition your business. You need a coach, a solid group of entrepreneurs who “get it,” and mentors who can cheer you on from the (objective) sidelines. You need to find “your people,” and get them in place NOW so that when the going gets tough (and it will…transition is inevitable) you can persevere and birth the business of your dreams.

So in honour of Labour Day, take a few minutes and do a Support Audit. Who is in your corner, helping you to breathe, encouraging you to maintain your focus, reminding you that you can’t just “pack it in and go home?” If you have those folks in place, give them a call and thank them! And if you don’t , feel free to give me a call. I’ll be your midwife any day. 

Here’s to your labour day,




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Rebecca Liston helps her clients predict, pivot, and compete in an increasingly complex global marketplace. Her clients quickly uncover the root of their challenges and know the actions to take to overcome them. A six-time nominee for the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Award, Rebecca combines business strategy with intuition, giving her clients the edge on forward-thinking, elegant answers to their most complicated problems. Her clients are entrepreneurs with CEO-mindsets and executives with entrepreneurial instincts. She is based in London, Ontario. What if you could get the answer to your biggest business challenge, in one sitting? Visit to find out more.