My mom is a renaissance woman in every sense of the word. After graduating from college (she finished in three years because she couldn’t afford to go for four years), she married my dad and they settled down and started a family. I was first in the line-up and I have three younger brothers. The amazing thing about this is that there are only five years between my siblings and I. People used to say that we followed my mom around like little ducks in a row. I was very fortunate growing up, I had a stay-at-home mom. She was at home with us for 10 years and in that time my mother ran quite a few businesses and I learned something from everyone.
She was first attracted to MLM or multi-level marketing businesses. She sold Tupperware, Copper goods, Shaklee, Mary Kay Cosmetics, and Melaleuca. She also framed and matted art, and prepared taxes. Then she made special occasion dresses and even reupholstered furniture for neighbors and friends. As a kid, it always seemed like she was up to some new hair-brained scheme. She never seemed to make much money, she really just enjoyed interacting with people. I thought she never made much money because she was always a protector of “lost souls”. I struggled a lot to understand her, and though I didn’t realize it at the time, she was planting the entrepreneurial bug in me very early.
Here’s a few things my momma taught me about business:
Don’t sweat the small stuff: Often people would not pay my mom on time or at all and she never let it bother her. She said that you had to pick your battles and she believed that it was never her job to take care of people, she said God would get them.
Be a life-long learner: My mother took classes at the local community college to learn how to reupholstered furniture to start her new business. She also earned her MBA at age 52. She is the type of person who constantly seeks new experiences and self improvement.
Excuses are for those who make them: My mother had four kids, including one special needs child, and a husband who worked two jobs. She never let that be an excuse for her not to do something for her business or her own education. She just made us a part of her business. I learned early how to stuff her promo bags or help her get ready for a Mary Kay party. She was very focused on all her jobs and she loved helping people.
I guess I am my mother’s daughter. I work hard to fulfill my mission to end small business failure, and I find myself thinking often about all my mother’s businesses (the good and the bad). Now I want you to make sure that you only court the right customers who have money to pay you, I want to encourage you to constantly look for opportunities to grow yourself and grow your business, and stops making excuses about a lack of money or time, and do what you need to do for your business.
What lessons did you mother teach you that you use in your business?
Melinda F. Emerson, SmallBizLady, is one of America’s leading small business experts. She is an author, speaker, and small business coach whose areas of expertise include small business start-up, business development, and social media marketing. As CEO of MFE Consulting LLC, Melinda develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to End Small Business Failure. She publishes a resource blog at: www.succeedasyourownboss.com and hosts a weekly talk show on Twitter called #SmallBizChat for emerging entrepreneurs. Forbes Magazine named Melinda Emerson one of the Top 20 Women for Entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. Melinda has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Fortune, and Black Enterprise. She’s the author of the bestselling book “Become Your Own Boss in 12 months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works”, and she writes a column for www.secondact.com and is an instructor for the Black Enterprise Small Business University.