Now that I'm older and a little wiser, I can't help but think about all the encouragement, support and great advice my mom gave me that has helped me become a successful entrepreneur. Although my mother never started a company, she ran a tight ship for my siblings and me, and has managed an extended family as well as any CEO I've ever known.
Here are some valuable lessons she taught me that have helped me succeed in business today:
Watch Your Manners
I've written an entire column on this one before but it's worth mentioning again. Say please, write thank-you notes, and be polite. People notice and like being around you when you do these things, which is really important whether you're hiring a new team member or selling your product or service.
Dress for Success
Look the part. See what the movers and shakers are wearing for clues and find a style that suits you. My mom was a fashion-design major in college so this came much easier to her than me, but you can never go wrong with a simple, classic style. When in doubt, err on the dressier, more professional side. You won't regret it.
Do Your Homework
The best things in life are worth working hard for. There's no substitution for paying your dues. You have to learn the basics before things get interesting, so learn as much as you can as fast as you can because when you become the best at something, that's when the real fun begins.
Travel & Explore
Everyone in the world doesn't do things the same way you do. Open your mind and see a situation from another's perspective. Customs and norms are different in each culture, so understanding their history adds texture and perspective you may have never considered before. Seeing different habits and practices can make you think more creatively about your own needs.
Be Financially Independent
Understand your finances and use your brain to figure out how to make a living while also making a difference. Don't spend money you don't have. Get in the habit of saving a little bit from every paycheck.
All work and no play is not a sustainable long-term strategy, so always make sure you leave time for some fun in your life, too. Take vacations; save room for dessert--life is short so enjoy something in every day.
Look Out for Others
As the oldest kid, it was my responsibility to make sure my siblings were safe and accounted for at all times. As an entrepreneur, you have people to watch out for as well: your customers, employees, partners, advisors and other stakeholders. If you take care of them, they'll watch your back, too.
Respect Your Elders
You may not like those who came before you but you must show respect to their position. You can learn something from everyone (both positive and negative), so listen to their stories and learn from their experience.
My mom always told me I could be anything I put my mind to, and if that isn't great advice for an entrepreneur, I'm not sure what is. I'm certain there are important women in your life who have had great impact and influence on you and your career, so remember them and share those lessons generously as a tribute to them.