The Mum Test

For most entrepreneurs, the support network formed by family and friends is essential to success. This support network provides a sounding board, a shoulder to cry on, words of encouragement and, occasionally, money to build your business.

At the centre of many support networks is a mum. Unless you’re in family business and work side-by -side with your mother, your mum probably plays the role of the Great Supporter.

Mums are often fountains of common sense and pragmatism, but they are also always rocks of support.

They have the innate ability to know when you need a word of encouragement or even a word of warning. They know when you want to talk about your business and when you never want to speak of the thing again.

Late last year when SmartCompany ran its Better Business Tips competition and asked readers for the best bit of advice they had to pass on, I remember being struck by a tip from Mike King from Townview Australia, who had a very simple suggestion.

“Work hard and be good to your mother. Would your mum be proud of the way you do business?”

If you think about it, there actually a few mum tests that can help guide us in our business life. Here are my top three, including Mike’s.

1) Would I sell this to mum?

In business, there is always a temptation to get the sale in the door and don’t worry about anything else. Don’t worry about if it’s really the best solution for the customer. Don’t worry about the fact they won’t buy from you again. Don’t worry if the product or service will be quickly obsolete or the quality isn’t spot on. But you wouldn’t do this to your mum, would you? You’d look after her and make sure she had the best possible experience with your business, from sales to service. Not a bad way to treat every customer really.

2) Can you explain it to your mum in two sentences?

Unless your mum works in your industry or your business, they are probably a great sounding board to test ideas. Try explaining your concept to your mum in two sentences and I bet she’ll be able to tell you if it’s sensible, too complex or not quite completely thought through. Let’s not beat around the bush – mums have great bullshit meters honed when we were teenagers.

3) Would your mum be proud of the way you do business?

What a great question to have in the back of your mind. Every time you think about doing something that just doesn’t quite sit right with you, stop and ask yourself whether your mum would approve. I reckon most dodgy things that happen in business could have been prevented if this rule way followed.

So, happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful mum and to all the mums of entrepreneurs. We thank you for your love, support and wisdom.

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