4 business lessons I learned from my mother (and aunties)

No one works as hard as an African mother. I should know because I was raised by one. You see them everywhere, trying to build new businesses from the farm, to the market place, to distributing companies and high-rise malls, to boardrooms and to the top of multi-national companies. Mothers are the epitome of perseverance, the backbone of our society, really. Mom aside, I was also brought up by more than five aunties! I know there are some entrepreneurial tips that we all need to follow from these marvelous older women. These are age-old tips that work anywhere, and have seen our mothers and their mothers through tides of disasters and of plenty.

Reputation

In business, your reputation is everything. Without a good reputation, your future businesses are worthless really. This is greater than branding, dear ladies. A reputation speaks to your character, and is bound to outshine all however much you brand yourself or your company. It is the core of who you are.

Get a good reputation and guard it with everything you have. Be a woman of your word, conduct your affairs with dignity, have good products and services. You know…reputation.

Appeal to self-interest in business

This is where most aspiring #MotherlandMoguls go wrong. I get that we are emotional beings but when making a deal, never play to mercy or pity. A Motherland Mogul never grovels, not when you know you can bring something to the table. And it does not matter whether it is the centerpiece or the whole darn table.

If you always find a way to ensure the other party can benefit, the deal is yours. That is how barter trade worked for years. If it was good enough for our ancestors, it should serve the purpose well for us. Afterall, we are here due to them.

Keep people guessing

The easiest way to fall in a rut is being predictable in business. While there is some good in being consistent, predictability points more to actions than products or services. It encourages you to get out of your comfort zone and actually be out there. It means partnering up with people that are not like you and learning new things.

Why else do you think women form small funding groups that bring together people of various professions and backgrounds? If it works for your personal life, why can’t it do so in business? Always keep an air of unpredictability. That way, no one ever sees you coming and the traps are definitely fewer.

Never retreat, never surrender

Our mothers run the household. No matter how big it is, no matter how much work is, you are sure that your mother will leave everything at the door and be your mother. If there is punishment to be delivered, it will be delivered. And she never lets her children see her overwhelmed or tired. Why is it then, that when some of us go to work, we carry unnecessary baggage that distracts us the whole time?

Then we actually end up doing nothing at work. We end up frustrated and are grumpy to our families when we go back home. Some household issues like worrying when laundry will be done or planning the meal for the next day calls for some serious time management. And when you’re at work, let it be no retreat, no surrender for things that are worth it.

We often look for business strategies elsewhere while in truth, they are right in front of us. Staring right into our faces, like our mothers often do. And yes, the pun was very much intended.

About Evelyne Kinaro

Evelyne KinaroEvelyne Kinaro enjoys writing about her struggles and joys as a 20's woman with other 20's women. She is a holder of Bsc. Telecommunication and Information Engineering from Kenya. She believes that young women can make a change in the society once they believe in themselves, and find comfort in knowing that they are not alone.

One thought on “4 business lessons I learned from my mother (and aunties)

  1. I apologize for digressing a little from the main point of this article about the lessons learnt from motherhood…..the photograph used for this article – I find it so capturing …(am aware the baby on the woman’s back is more of an abino ) but still I can’t help seeing the responsibility for Africa from the future in the picture , the woman – Very darkskinned(Africa) is full of strength , obvious from her skin lines , from years of labour & work probably , then she is carrying this baby who reminds and represents to me (white-foreign-abroad) cause of the sharp contrast ….the picture brings to mind – the prospective role Africa has to play in mothering (leading – for heading) foreign bodies ‘Abroad’ and taking over in the market – everywhere ….this time in thriving light… Let me stop there please before I continue to bore …I just couldn’t help sharing part of what came to mind. Thank you

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