Mother’s Advice for Entrepreneurs

My mother isn’t an entrepreneur and never was, but her sound advice on how to behave provides great lessons to live by…and to run your business by. In the days following Mother’s Day this year, it’s fun to reflect on this basic advice and how it can help in business.

“Always say please and thank you.” Basic rules of civility can easily be overlooked today in the fast pace of the business world and in online anonymity. But moms know best; being polite is good business practice.

  • Ask permission to include customers and prospects on your email marketing list. This helps ensure that your messages will get through and won’t be treated as spam.
  • Thank customers for their business. Consider using loyalty programs as a way of saying “thank you.”
  • Thank customers, associates, or anyone else who provides you with referrals. Accompany a word of thanks with a small gift, or a discount or coupon for a future purchase.
  • Thank employees for good work. Employee recognition by itself is good; financial rewards where appropriate are even better!

“Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean you have to.” (The follow-up statement: “if everybody jumps off a bridge, will you?”) What the advice is saying is that the mainstream may not be right for you. Sometimes you have to go in new directions; if you always follow the herd, you’ll always be one step behind.

  • Now is a great time to explore new marketing venues, including social media and mobile opportunities. Alternatively, you may decide that the time (and in some cases cost) of social media may not make sense for your business model. Decide what’s right for your situation.
  • To grow your business in a tough economy, find a niche that you can exploit. For example, if you are a web designer, consider specializing in creating sites for a particular group, such as performing artists or service professionals.

“Do your homework.” It does without saying that moms stayed on top of things to make sure you did what you were suppose to, and on time. Doing homework in business is essential, too.

  • Before a sales call, study up on the person you’re visiting as well as his/her company so you can be prepared. Find out how to find out “hidden” information from Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling.
  • Before you hire a new employee, do a background check so you can avoid costly “wrongful hiring.”
  • Before you take any major action—expand into a new line, relocate to larger quarters, enter into a joint venture—do extensive research into the ramifications of your action. Will you be able to afford larger space if you experience an economic setback? Are there any unknowns about your partner in a joint venture? It’s better to find out sooner rather than later.

“Because I said so.” Moms often insist you follow their directives even if you don’t understand the reasoning behind them. Some things have no rational basis, but you should do them anyway. I’m not talking about listening to your mother in this case, but rather listening to your inner voice. It may be counterintuitive, for example, to become an entrepreneur during a recession, but this may turn out to be good timing.

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