My father started a lawn equipment repair business with his dad in 1973, out of his father’s car.
I’d always looked up to my parents, but had no idea that the business would be the thing that stuck with me. I didn’t have the idea to start my own business until I was in my mid-twenties. When I realized I wanted to build dreams instead of someone else’s, I knew entrepreneurship was the way to go.
How else would I have a life of freedom I so craved?
What my parents still don’t realize is that this: they taught me how to run my own business. They taught me entrepreneurship lessons without saying a word. Here are five things I learned from my parents about being an entrepreneur.
1. The buck stops with you
You are the face of your business as an entrepreneur. You are the one running the “show.” You are the one back-stage running the lights and performing night after night until the curtain call. Especially as a solopreneur, this means you’re also the person taking tickets at the door; responding to clients when they are not happy with the show. You need to have a strong stomach for such critique.
2. The world doesn’t owe you anything
This is the hardest lesson for a lot of entrepreneurs have to learn. In fact, I didn’t learn this until a year into my entrepreneur journey. Things don’t fall into your lap; you have to go after it. If you have dreams, go after them instead of dreaming about it all the time. You have to take deliberate action. If you want new clients, make sure you’re visible where those clients show up. You can’t just expect success to fall in your lap without the work involved.
3. Customer service means everything
Growing up, I learned that customer service meant a lot to my father. He wanted to create a place where people felt good about the service they were getting from his employees. If a customer had a complaint, they knew to go straight to him about it. He would handle it with dignity, rather than sweep it under the rug.
My father passed away, but his legacy lives on through the business. In a way, his legacy also lives on through the customer service I give to my clients as well. Great customer service goes a long way toward referrals, which leads to more clients. Make sure clients walks away with a smile on their faces. Ensure the work you do for clients makes them happy. Be sure that the work you do is what they asked for, if not more than what they asked for.
4. Build a great team
As a entrepreneur, you can easily get overwhelmed with everything you have to get done in the day. It seems that your to-do list is slowly stacking up against you. So, what are you to do about it?
My parents taught me that you need a team of people you can trust with your tasks. As your business grows, there”s a need to be everywhere at once. But for one person, that is a tremendous challenge.
As your business grows you may need to hire interns, freelancers or employees to make sure things get done. Virtual assistants are also a great resource–and some business operations may beed to be outsourced. Freelance marketplaces like UpWork can provide the help you need on the cheap. But make sure the freelancer you hire is the right person for you and your brand.
5. If you can’t please a client, find someone who can
My father’s business is in an odd niche, sure, but he had connections in the area. People knew if they couldn’t get a lawn mower part from him, he’d suggest another place they could go. We’ve kept that same promise–even after his death in 2015.
I make sure that if I can’t help customers, they end up in a place where they can get the help they need. Working for my parents’ business helped me realize I need to do the same thing for my clients when I started my business.
If I can’t meet the needs of a client, then I need to find someone who can. It’s all about networking and the connections you bring to the table as an entrepreneur. This is one reason why niche networking is so valuable. Find a way to meet client needs, even if it isn’t through you.
This article has been edited.
Lisa Fourman is the founder of Mystique MGMT, where she provides social media management, email management, and blog post creation for female entrepreneurs who are overwhelmed. She found a love for her work through Mystique upon her first role as social media manager for her current employer. She became an entrepreneur upon her decision to fulfill her own dreams at work instead of someone else’s. Want to know more about anxiety in entrepreneurship? Visit lisafourman.com. Connect with @LisaFourmanon Twitter.