It’s the annual rite of spring: the celebration of Mother’s Day. It’s that one day of the year that no matter how busy a small business owner is, they take time out to celebrate the contribution of their mother. Most owners have been influenced by their mothers more than they will ever know. In fact, some of the tried-and-true advice our mothers gave us also contains some valuable business lessons. Here's five pieces of motherly wisdom that no doubt served you well in the business world.
1. “You can do anything.” Not many mothers probably told their children a generation ago that they should grow up to be an entrepreneur. The typical “reach” goal was a doctor or maybe even president. These days, more mothers would probably tell their children to grow up to be Steve Jobs than to be President Obama. However, your mother’s insistence that you could accomplish anything and were “destined for success” was the essential ingredient in building your confidence to start a company. There simply is no other way to explain setting a goal that is so difficult to achieve as starting a company.
2. “Failure not an option.” Although there is failure in every entrepreneur’s future (many times more than once), the non-quitting spirit your mother repeatedly taught formed the basis for not giving up when your business hits a pothole. You can thank your mother for helping you form the key entrepreneur gene: resiliency.
3. “Patience is a virtue.” The lesson of patience is an essential characteristic that small business owners need to learn. Most "overnight successes" took 7 to 10 years. The rapid rise to financial fortune is only a fairy tale that is primarily realized only after the exit event. By their very nature, entrepreneurs are not a patient group, but they need to take a longer-term view in order to be successful. Most entrepreneurs are not successful on their first try (or second).
4. “Don’t be late.” Punctuality and getting tasks done on time are critical skills for small business owners, because what you do, your employees will also do. In other words, if you are never on time or don’t complete tasks in a timely manner, your staff won’t either.
5. “Stop complaining.” Your mother taught you to stop “bellyaching.” In business, while you can’t control the outcome, you can control your response. Learn what you can from the current result, but then move on by taking an action that gives another chance of success.
Although my mother taught me well, she did give me two pieces of advice that ended up not being true in the world of business:
1. "Good things come to those who wait." Most small business owners get tired of just waiting. They go out there and make things happen. To be successful, value proactivity over reactivity.
2. "Do what you love and the money will follow." Mothers got this one mixed up as well. It should be, "do what you love and it does not matter if the money follows." To be successful in building a company, an entrepreneur needs to be driven by passion, not financial reward. While making money is a way we keep score (and is important), most small business owners find a way to be “happily” successful.
As you can tell, I didn’t always listen. My mother told me I should also marry someone rich.
What lessons did your mother teach you about business?
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