Clean Your Plate! Things Your Mom Taught You About Small Business


“Clean your plate! There are starving children in Biafra!” my mother barked as my sister and I stared at our partially finished meal. Although I didn’t know where Biafra was located — or how clearing my plate would help their hungry children — I reluctantly obeyed. Little did I realize, my mom was my first small business coach.

Mom was a hard-working farm girl. Growing up in the fields of North Dakota wheat farms, her mother taught her the big value in small things. She, in turn, taught them to me.

Have you ever considered the pivotal role your mom played in shaping your approach to running your small business? Here are some of what I was taught that shaped my entrepreneurial experience.

  1. Clean your plate. Learning the importance of eating all you put on your plate, scores the significance of not taking on more than can be completed in a day. Realistically measure your daily expectations so your plate is spotless at the conclusion of each business day. Start each day fresh. It’s invigorating.
  2. Don’t chew with your mouth full. Like “clean your plate”, learning to gauge the size of one’s mouth accurately, hones project management skills. Truthfully assessing your small business capability and capacity promotes good customer service, ensures on-time delivery of commitments, and builds trust with your clients.
  3. Wear clean underwear. In case you’re in an accident, those who provide emergency treatment won’t think badly of you. Frankly, I thought this was a little over the top but I understand the meaning behind the message. We never have a second chance to make a first impression. Present yourself and your business in a way that makes others glad they met you.
  4. Say “please” and “thank you”. Such a simple thing yet it carries great value in forming two important business concepts essential for success: respect and appreciation. Express respect and appreciation for those who cross your business doorstep. It’s the right thing to do.
  5. Be polite on the phone. This included properly answering the phone, not hanging up first if the other party initiated the call and, in no uncertain terms, return all phone calls. Appropriate and timely communication can’t be over emphasized. Whether it’s by email, phone, or social networking, proper communication manners open doors to opportunities for your small business.

What did your mom teach you about running your small business?

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Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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