By: Hannah Sullivan
Moms make everything better. Feeling sick? Here’s some homemade soup. Sad? Let’s get our nails done. Tired of the world? Let’s blast Eminem on the way to get a milkshake and fries.
If you’re wondering what kind of mother would rap Eminem songs with her middle school daughter, mine would.
Introducing: Katy Gorman, also known as “Mafia Wife”. It doesn’t matter if she’s going to the printers, jewelers, leather store, grocery store, or any other establishment around Richmond, VA; my mom is the notorious Mafia Wife. Married to, of course, the Godfather. Everything about her is larger than life. She rocks faux hawks and fur, platform shoes, and an outrageous personality.
My mom is my business advisor and she doesn’t even know it.
Katy has kept it real with me since I was a kid. She’s always given me practical advice. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that what she’s saying isn’t just generic, everyday mom advice; it’s actually pretty great advice on how to be your best-business-self.
All moms are filled to the brim with advice for any occasion. Sometimes it feels like they have more wisdom and life experience than we can even comprehend. (Is your mom a talker? My mom’s a talker.)
Whether you’re making a career change, launching your own company, or figuring out a way to rule the world, navigating ain’t easy. And if you’re new to the game, you’re definitely no expert. That’s why it’s great to apply your mom’s life advice to business. Also, it’s free. And never ends. Ever.
Here are a few tips from Mafia Wife on how to be an all-star.
Tip #1: Punch holes in the atmosphere.
Over ten years ago, my parents were looking for a new office building for a company my dad owned. They looked forever, but never found anything that was quite right. To that, my mother said, “F*ck it, we’ll make one.”
She equates problem-solving to punching holes in the atmosphere. There are no boundaries. You’re simply in one realm, and then you push things forward. Anything is possible, big or small.
When building the office, she knew that she didn’t like the darkness of office buildings. So, she asked for windows on the interior walls, so that light could carry through each room naturally. She saw borrowing light as a solution.
To quote Hannibal, “Find a way or make one.” My mom says the same thing, as I’m sure yours would, too. Figure out a way to make things happen, and don’t quit until you get there.
Tip #2: Work it, smoochie.
Or, fake it till you make it. It’s impossible to be an expert at something when you’re just starting out — you’re just starting out! It’s okay to have zero experience when you’re new to something. It’s all about learning. What matters is what you do in order to get things rolling.
Shake what ya momma gave ya. Use your strengths, be open to failure, and continue to grow. Another Katy classic is, “You. Betta. Work.” It’s all the same: work with what you’ve got.
My mom calls herself an alley cat. She’s scrappy. One morning in elementary school, she was reading the comics and found a coupon for a free Marathon Bar. For her, this was huge! She is one of thirteen kids, and rarely was anything her own. (Dang Irish Catholics.) Instead of enjoying her find, she decided to capitalize on it.
Katy roped in her younger sister, Mary, to con the neighbors. They posed as Girl Scouts and went around the neighborhood collecting more comics for a “project”. By the end of the afternoon, they’d earned themselves thirty more candy bar coupons. Now that’s what I call working it.
Tip #3: Do you, boo.
This is always coupled with, “Stay in your own lane.” If you’re focusing on what the next person is doing, you’re not totally diving into what you need to do.
Stay in your own lane, with your goal front and center. Stare that goal down. Ride towards it at full speed, and don’t stop until you’re there.
Don’t worry about that other startup, coworker, or business incubator. If you let yourself get distracted by others, it’ll keep you from where you want to go. Do you, boo!
Tip #4: Keep it moving.
My mom lives life in the fast lane. She’d always tell me, “Put your car in drive.” It was rare that we were allowed to veg out when I was growing up. She was always preaching about the “hustle.” It didn’t matter what we were doing, as long as we were doing it.
She ran a tight ship, and she never stopped. (Unless it was after eight. Then you could find her religiously watching Bravo or Lifetime.)
By default, I can never sit still either. Growing up, I was always working multiple jobs and involved in an absurd number of extracurriculars. That’s why my childhood was full of random activities, including comedy camps, knit nights, trapeze shows, wrestling matches, origami, and starting random side businesses, like Christmas present wrapping.
No one can light a fire like someone’s momma. Moms want things to get done, when they want them done. Put your car in drive! Get up, and get moving!
Tip #5: Go with the good.
My mom always says you’re never given anything you can’t handle. She’s a big believer in accepting what comes your way, and using the nicer aspects to your advantage.
When she was younger, she had a jewelry cart that she took to beaches and festivals to make extra cash on the side. One summer night, a drunk guy came stumbling around spewing absurdities, with a pistol in his hand. He approached my mom’s cart and pointed the gun at a pair of earrings. You know what she did? She didn’t back down. She held her ground, and tripled the price for that jerk. He went for it.
Okay, so your clients may not have pistols in their hands when asking for your web design services, but that doesn’t mean they won’t give you a hard time. Uptight clients with unrealistic expectations and too-large egos are quite abundant. But instead of looking at this as a problem, turn the beat around, and approach it as an opportunity.
Got an anal client who wants you to do five rounds of edits on a single logo? It’s annoying, but you might get a great portfolio piece. Pitched your idea to five investors, only to get five no’s? You’re five times closer to a yes. It’s all about perspective.
Tip #6: You gotta spend money to save money.
At first, I thought this was simply my mom’s way of justifying her overspending at estate sales. Now I realize that it actually makes a whole lot of sense.
Let’s take business out of the equation. You buy a new pair of shoes. They’re cute and stylish, but pretty cheap. Let’s say they’re $70. They end up falling apart, but because you love them so much, you get another pair. Now you’ve invested $140 in a pair of poorly made shoes that will surely need to be replaced again.
Instead, you could have invested in a nicer pair of shoes that would have lasted longer. A little more upfront sometimes saves you in the long run. Without making decent investments — whether it’s time, money, energy, or whatever — you’ll end up making smaller deposits that oftentimes add up to even more.
You should definitely invest in good shoes, stylish office furniture, awesome accessories, and whatever else your heart desires. But most importantly, invest in protecting your business with business insurance. Although it’s less sexy, it’s probably a little bit more important to your business’s survival than a new pair of velvet pumps.
Moms give pretty dope advice.
Darn right! I swear, Katy has like a third eye or something. She is all-knowing, all of the damn time. It’s not even fair!
So, listen up, folks. Take advantage of all the sage momma advice out there. These ladies are full of experience and wisdom on life. And because business is a part of life, they can also teach you a thing or two about that.
Sorry to Derek, Dirk, Dustin, or whatever your business advisor’s name is. You’re just not that great! Moms rule. Advisors drool.
Hannah Sullivan is the co-founder of Pogo, an insurtech startup that provides business insurance to the self-employed. She is a graphic/web designer turned insurance expert. Her hobbies include people watching, eating popcorn, and going to bed early.
Originally published at www.ellevatenetwork.com.