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When you’re a wee tot you might not have appreciated your mother’s constant lectures about jumping on the bed and eating crayons. It’s only in our older years that we learn the true importance of these lessons and how they can be applied to business (although we assume none of your employees eat crayons, but we’re not here to judge).

When you begin running a small business it becomes evident that some of the lessons you learn as a child resonate, and can be taken on in the small business world. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we’ve decided to thank our mums for all their wisdom by recognising how each piece of advice can be used in our own business ventures!

If everyone jumped off a cliff would you do it too?

Ahh, a classic. If you wanted to go to a party in adolescence you may too have come across this gem after firmly being told “NO”. Intended to shock the rebellious teenager into a never wanting to stay out past ten, it rarely had the desired effect of keeping innocent children away from their unruly friends – but we appreciate your trying, mum.

When it comes to business, the message is simple. Don’t follow the crowd. Be the company that takes risks and swims against the stream in order to stand out to your followers. All your competitors might be heading into a business black hole and how would you know? Take a little time to try different things with your marketing strategies rather than immediately opting for what similar companies are trying.

Who’s she, the cat’s mother?!

Used when you’re referring to someone in the same room as ‘she’, this was simply an attempt to instil manners in your former toddler self.  Rather than equating someone with an unknown feline, they should be spoken to directly or by use of their name. This practice teaches children to acknowledge others and become more inclined to ask questions.

So how can it be used in your business? If you learned not to say ‘she’ in front of said person when you were young, what more can you possibly learn from it? Although people are much more polite than they were when they were two, we can all still forget names. In business, this is bad practice – especially if you want a favour from somebody! Make time to learn names and people will generally give you the same courtesy.

Eating crusts will make your hair curl

All of our parents told us some white lies to help themselves through the terrifying “Why?” stage of toddlerhood. When children are being particularly tricky at the table it’s often easier to tell them a little white lie rather than face an hour food fight.

Although you might get told otherwise, a white lie in business is not a bad thing. Maybe you’re not as far into that report as you might have hoped, or you haven’t actually updated your books in a while. Lying to get you a bit more time to complete the project isn’t too troublesome, but lying on a regular basis can make you an unreliable businessperson – so use this one wisely!

I would never have talked to my parents like that!

This along with “Treat others like you’d want to be treated” are genuine life lessons that children can take into adult life. Generally, be a nice person or bad things are going to happen – treat us badly and your children could treat you even worse!

In business, you really won’t get anywhere from ignoring people and only speaking nicely when you need something. The best bosses lead with an open door policy and consideration for their employees, as to the best entrepreneurs. Imagine an ideal entrepreneur you’d like to meet, and adopt their outlook! You’ll only get the best employees by treating them the right way.

I don’t know is NOT an answer

Children can be annoying – it’s no secret. All you need to know is what flavour ice cream they want. You’re doing them a favour after all! But for some reason, they’ve hit a stage of indecisiveness so crippling it’s like the only words they know is “I don’t know”. When we grow up and have our own children we really feel for our own mums!

Not being able to make a decision is not a desirable quality. This is especially true in business – where knowing what you want means everything. If you’re trying to work with someone who isn’t sure if something is going to work or constantly asks for your approval, it can be draining. Encourage your employees to be independent, even if it means them making mistakes!

Money doesn’t grow on trees!

You want another toy? Mum’s know the struggle of tripping over various stuffed animals only to be asked for more of them. So sometimes, they just need to put their foot down! Money certainly doesn’t grow on trees, and when you’ve got children it seems that instead it actually sinks into the earth never to be seen again.

If you want to run a successful business, you need to learn how to be thrifty. If your company starts earning a lot, that’s great – but don’t get reckless. Invest money back into the business to keep it going, and then be reasonable. Your mum was right, money doesn’t grow on trees, so don’t spend all your new money on unnecessary trinkets.

Don’t talk with your mouth full

How many times has your mum told you to never eat with your mouth full? Or to sit still at the dinner table? Or to not throw Lego at your sister? That last one might have just been me… Manners are a vital learning curve that mums teach us to raise a well-behaved child and avoid disapproving looks from teachers.

While we may not be living in a Jane Austen novel, manners are still very important in your adult life. We aren’t expecting Mr Darcy or Miss Elizabeth Bennett, but holding yourself with dignity and respect in the workplace is vital in order for you fellow business people to think the same.

Were you raised in a barn?

Children are constantly running around the house, arguing, shouting and playing. The various nooks and crannies of a terraced house make fantastic places to hide, so it’s inevitable that doors remain open for ease of access. Of course, for mum, this meant that there was a constant draught (as well as screaming children) and untidiness.

If you’re starting a business it’s possible that you have worked at home for some amount of time. When you did you probably learnt how difficult it can be to work in a cluttered space.  General untidiness in the workspace does not only suggest that you’re messy in business too, but that you aren’t a neat thinker who remembers important information. Keep your workspace clean and it will invite much more business!

Flattery will get you everywhere

When we needed something from mum, the go-to phrase would no doubt be to tell her how nice she looks today. Unfortunately, mum often saw through this disguise and cut straight to the “What do you want?”

Flattery in business is often necessary – as long as it is genuine. Praising an employee on their work might get them to keep up the good job, and thanking a business partner for working on a project will mean they’re more likely to work on another one. So really, flattery will get you everywhere.

What did your mum teach you about business? Leave a comment in the section below or Tweet us @AccountancyPart!

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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