Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and in honor of this holiday where we pay homage to all things motherhood, I thought I would share a few of the things I learned about business by being a mom.
I’ve been a mom for a long time (I have four young adult children), and I’ve been an entrepreneur even longer than that. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about business and a lot about motherhood. –And I still have a lot to learn about both. You might be thinking that the two aren’t really related beyond the fact that the same person can do both, but that definitely is not the case.
Read on to learn more about seven of the things I learned about business by being a mom.
Never Give Up. Good Things Take Time
Isn’t this the truth? It takes 18 years or more to guide that sweet little newborn baby into a full-fledged adult. There are many times you may feel unappreciated and wish to throw in the towel (the terrible twos, middle school, teaching them to drive) but the challenges rarely last forever. Eventually, they grow up and you get to see the fruits of your labors—like this call from one of my college students. The same is true in the business world, though it rarely takes 18 years or more to see the results of your hard work in business. If you really believe in what you’re doing (this is important), and you persist through the challenges, you’ll find your success.
Be Willing to Look at Creative Solutions and Alternatives
Motherhood, like the business world, often requires coming up with innovative and creative solutions to the challenges child rearing and business throw at you. Learn to be open to ideas that may seem unconventional or even a little crazy—because sometimes, more often than not, they actually work—or they lead you to a solution that does. And, if nothing else, they keep life interesting and your imagination moving.
You Can Be a Buddy or You Can Be the Boss (Mom) But Not Both at the Same Time
You can either be the parent or the friend, but you can’t be both at the same time. I’m sure some of you will argue this. If you want to be a friend and be liked, you’re going to have a tough time making the difficult parental calls. My job was to be their parent when they were growing up, so I could be their friend when they became adults. I heard “I hate you” and “you’re mean” more times than I can count. I generally assumed it meant I was doing something right. Reference the phone call above.
It’s the same when you’re the boss. Being the boss requires you to sometimes make the tough calls. If being liked by your employees is more important than being respected and running a successful business, those tough calls are a lot harder. Just like in motherhood, building respect now can lead to success and the opportunity for friendship down the road.
There is Always Something New to Learn
I don’t know about your parenting experiences, but not only is motherhood not for the faint of heart, there is never a dull moment. Just when I thought I was getting a handle on things, my kids came up with something that I could not have dreamed up in a million years. And even though they’re young adults now, I’m still learning. That’s also one of the things I love about my business. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, I find something new I need to learn all about. And I love it that way.
You Can’t Make Everyone Happy All the Time
Do I really need to explain this one? No matter what you decide to say or do, someone will be unhappy about it. Even if it’s a trip to Disneyland with the kids or raises for everyone. Someone will find a reason to complain. Just do what you know to be right, and let it go. Their unhappiness is not your problem to fix.
A Calm Demeanor Calms the Troops
Stuff happens. And it’s not always good. But if you can at least appear calm, others around you will take their cues from you and you may be able to avoid a complete meltdown.
When my son was young, I was on the phone one day and looked out my back window to see him heading for the house covered in blood from head to toe. I excused myself from the call, and quickly sent one child to fetch towels and another to stop him at the back door (before he came in and bled all over the carpet). He and his buddy were shagging golf balls in the backyard and his friend missed the ball and connected with my son’s head instead. They didn’t notice right away (they’re boys, for Pete’s sake).
The injury wasn’t serious but, as many moms know, head wounds bleed profusely and look scary. Because I stayed calm and kept the other kids busy, no one had an opportunity to have a meltdown, and today he sports only a dashing little scar on his forehead. And he’s still not much of a golfer.
People Are Always More Important than Policies
This should be a rule of life. Policies are good. Policies are important. At home we usually call them House Rules. Policies and House Rules help us keep order, keep people safe and maybe keep our sanity. But policies and rules should never be so important that they come before the people those policies were created to take care of. In any situation, if you put people first, whether they’re your children, your co-workers, your employees or your customers, it will all come out right in the end. Some may complain that it’s not fair—and they’re probably right. Life isn’t always fair, and people are always more important than policies.
So there you have seven of the many things I have learned about business by being a mom. What about you? What lessons have you learned from being a parent that have helped you in the business world?
And happy Mother’s Day to all my business mom friends out there.