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My Mom, My Mentor

Entrepreneurs share the motherly advice that has shaped them into the successful leaders they are today.

This Sunday, women around the world will be showered with flowers, jewelry and gourmet goodies as sons and daughters show their moms how much they care. Just how much? The National Retail Federation estimates consumers will spend an average of about $140 this Mother's Day, up from $122 last year.

These 10 business owners would likely say it's money well spent; they all credit their moms for helping them become the business gurus they are today. In honor of Mother's Day, they've shared the best advice they've received from their moms over the years.

David Liu, co-founder and CEO of The Knot, a comprehensive wedding site
"Despite the incredible hardships she endured before moving to this country, my mother was a model of courage, perseverance and patience. As a business professional, the lessons she taught me about the value of empathy and the importance of respect have had a profound impact on my leadership style."

Jeff Taylor, founder and former CEO of Monster.com; founder and CEO of Eons.com, a lifestyle site for people 50 years and older
"The best piece of advice I ever got from my mother was, 'If you want to do something, just do it. The only way to achieve your goals is to jump right in and get started. You don't need instructions, and you don't need to be an expert.'"

Debbie Mumm, CEO and creative director of Debbie Mumm, Inc., an art licensing and publishing company
"My mother made a great career for herself in human resources. She taught me that the top leaders in a company were the greatest influence on all of the company's internal relationships. Thank you, Mom, for teaching me how important it is to treat others well."

Mattias Miksche, founder and former CEO of E*TRADE Scandinavia; founder and former CEO of Boxman; CEO of Stardoll, a paper doll dress-up site
"My mom grew up in Germany during World War II. She survived the bombing of Dresden but almost died of starvation. She left Germany, moved to Sweden and started a new life. Her experiences made her focus on the positive in every situation and because of her, I apply that same approach to my life and business."

Ray Clark, founder and CEO of The Marketing Arm, a network of marketing services agencies
"I woke up almost every day of my life to a 'to-do list' my mom had prepared for me. It taught me to a) have a plan, and b) work the plan. You have to work first, play second. I credit her with my work ethic and understanding of how to get things done."

Nadine Curtis, founder of Be Sweet, a socially conscious company that imports knit accessories and yarn from South Africa
"My mother has always said to me, 'Follow your heart, and the money will come.' I can't say enough about this piece of advice. It took me a long time to find out what my heart wanted, but once I did, I found out that making money is the easier part. People are attracted to businesses with passion."

Dr. Sandy Goldberg, founder of A Silver Lining Foundation, a foundation for underserved individuals with cancer; NBC 5 Chicago medical contributor
"My mother always told me, 'No matter what your situation, you have to see the silver lining.' So, as I battled with breast cancer, I created an organization in honor of my late mother to treat and care for underserved individuals affected by cancer."

Jennifer Melton and Brennan Johnson, co-founders of Cloud Star, an all-natural pet treats and grooming product line
"Brennan's mom always said, 'Everything is better with snacks.' So we keep a fully stocked kitchen and an espresso machine in the office to boost employee morale. Jen's mom's advice, 'Play nice,' helps us remember to stay on the up-and-up with customers and vendors and to have fun."

Susan Wilson Solovic, CEO of Small Business Television, an online TV network for small business owners; author of Girls' Guide to Power and Success and Reinvent Your Career: Attain the Success you Desire and Deserve
"The best piece of advice my mother gave me was to be a constant learner. Although she had very little education herself, she believed education was the greatest asset you could have. I followed her advice by attending night law school and graduating with honors. Today, as a business owner, my legal education gives me a unique perspective."

Scott-Vincent Borba, founder and creator of BORBA natural skincare products
"When I first came up with the idea for beauty water, my entire family ridiculed the idea, except my mother, father and sister. My mother told me to expect to hear plenty more criticism from others, but that she and my father supported me no matter what. Her words help me face adversity head on."

These stories are evidence that behind almost every successful entrepreneur is an ambitious, dedicated and hard-working mother. After all, as many women well know, being a mother is a full-time job.

As Entrepreneur.com's staff writer, Kristin Edelhauser writer features, blogs and other pieces for the site. She previously worked as a writer and researcher for the NBC San Diego affiliate.

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