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Mother’s Day has arrived, and for me, it's bittersweet. It's my first since having lost my mother earlier this year. In her honor and to celebrate all the wonderful mothers out there, I’d like to revisit some of the great advice received over the years from them. Why? Because of a lot of it can guide an entrepreneur in growing a business.
Here’s a look at 10 classic bits of motherly advice that can help entrepreneurs:
1. Stand up straight. Whether meeting with potential investors or clients, negotiating with suppliers or interviewing job applicants, projecting an air of confidence helps. Eye contact, good posture and a clear voice (no mumbling) communicate that someone is trustworthy, competent and a good risk.
2. Clean up that room. Disorganization costs time. If a business owner doesn’t have a system for organizing files on the computer, tracking tasks, keeping office space clear and managing long-term plans, he or she may end up stressed out and overworked. Entrepreneurs juggle dozens of tasks, and pausing each time when switching gears to figure out where something is saved seriously cuts into productivity.
3. Share. Coopetion (or cooperation between competing companies) can be incredibly valuable to entrepreneurs. It might allow for, depending on the industry, cutting costs, boosting revenue or bringing in new clients. It's possible to set up a referral program with another business owner, order supplies jointly, share office space or otherwise pool resources or divide costs. Find potential coopetition buddies at networking events.
4. Turn off the TV and go to bed. The research on sleep is clear: Business owners need it to be productive, efficient and healthy. The research on House of Cards? So far, there's no evidence that watching another episode will boost the bottom line. So turn off the TV and get some shuteye or risk declining cognitive performance and sagging alertness -- not exactly ideal conditions for tackling a 15-hour day.
5. Go play outside. On a literal level, going outside for fresh air and exercise can boost creativity and reduce stress, making someone more productive and effective upon returning to work. On another level, looking outside the current target audience for clients, thinking outside the box while developing the next marketing campaign or stepping outside one's comfort zone on an investment can offer tremendous rewards.
6. No going out until the chores are done. Everyone has favorite and least-favorite tasks. Get into the habit of taking care of pet peeves early in the day. In the afternoon, when self-control dips because of flagging attention, less discipline will be required to focus on the remaining tasks.
7. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Some moms use this as the standard response to “She’s copying me,” and in that context it tends to be infuriating. But don't hesitate to copy any brands admired. If possible, entrepreneurs should reach out to leaders at businesses they want to emulate and ask for a chance to pick their brains (mentioning, of course, their admiration). Business owners tend to be more susceptible than children to the flattery that imitation implies.
8. Bored? Then stop being boring. File this under “tough love. Many a mother has said, “Only boring people get bored,” and this advice can sting. But it’s usually true. Those who are bored with their marketing or promotional efforts maybe should realize that their prospects might be, too. It’s hard to shake off a funk, but doing so is crucial for engaging an audience and winning new customers.
9. "There’s nobody quite like you." Worrying about the competition can make entrepreneurs lose sight of why they started a business in the first place. But they might find it useful to remember what their mothers told them as kids about being unique and special. And today they should find confidence in knowing what's unique about their business and that will ultimately pave the way for breaking away from competitors and offering clients something truly great.
10. Say thank you. This Mother’s Day, those treating a mother to brunch or chatting on the phone with her should remember to thank her for all the sound advice she’s given over the years. After all, they never know when that chance will come again.