Who would you expect to be Shark Tank investor Barbara Corcoran’s most important mentor? Barbara says in her new podcast, Business Unusual, that her mom was her best teacher when it came to business.
I’ve been fortunate to have had several mentors (I always have at least one coach, usually more), and I value them all. But Barbara’s podcast got me thinking. How did what my mom taught me influence me in my business?
My mom wasn’t a businesswoman, but she should have been. She managed money like a champ. She worked miracles with a small budget. She was a supermom before the term was coined: she worked a full-time job, she cooked, she canned, she cleaned, she even sewed many of my and her own clothes!
The woman was a dynamo, even as she continually battled depression. There’s no telling what she would have accomplished without that constant companion.
Even though she didn’t have her own business, my mom’s way of being in her prime has been valuable for me in my businesses. So, in honor of all that was good in my mom, I’d like to share them with you. I hope they provide equally valuable lessons for you in your business.
Lesson #1: Be kind to people.
My mom was known for her kind and gentle ways. Connections were very important to her. As a result, people always turned to her and had good things to say about her. In your business, your reputation precedes you. When you’re kind, you inspire positive reviews. People turn to you. You deepen and strengthen relationships, which are at the heart of your business. Treat the people around you well.
Lesson #2: Follow through on your commitments.
Skipping out at the last minute just because you don’t feel like, or blowing people off because you’ve had another offer just was not an option for my mom. Commitments once made had meaning, and they were to be honored. I’ve always valued that teaching. The trust that you build with people, whether it’s with clients, team members, or colleagues, when you do what you say you’re going to do is priceless. Another relationship builder!
Lesson #3: Work hard.
A cardinal trait of my mom’s was her ability to work. And work. This energizer bunny seemed to never stop. I attribute my willingness to work hard to my mom’s example. Business success takes work. Pretending that it doesn’t, or listening to someone telling you there’s a shortcut, only slows you down. When you recognize the value of working hard, when you are willing to do the work, you are closer to accomplishing your goals.
Lesson #4: Persevere even when things get tough.
Mom stuck by projects. She found a way to get them done. She didn’t see gender or past experience or current skill set as obstacles. She pushed right on past them and focused on the outcome. From her, I learned that if you want something badly enough, never give up on it. That includes your business, and your impact. Find a way to move through tough times. Get support from a mentor – it eases your way.
Lesson #5: Know when to quit.
Um, I thought you just said to persevere, you might be thinking. The key is to know when to chill. This one is more like an anti-lesson: my mom never knew when to quit, when to step back. That backfired at times. So I’ve learned the value of knowing when to quit, even if only temporarily. In your business, when something isn’t working, it’s important to be able to step back and consider, why isn’t this working? Is there an easier path? Is there an adjustment I can make to what I had in mind that would actually be better?
Most of us are surrounded by people with gifts to give. My mom was a gift in many ways to me. And now, to you. Class dismissed.