The mothers of invention: how our mums help shape our businesses

Business news and opinion

9 March 2018

As Mother’s Day approaches on 11 March, it’s time to reflect on everything our mums have done for us – and for our businesses.

From nurturing our fledgling skills to financing our first steps, our mothers are often our main advocates and our earliest advisers.

They gave us a leg up

Many small businesses started out with help from Mum. Whether it’s loaning the deposit for our first shop, checking our business plans, or mucking in in our café kitchens, our families are the first to share their skills, time and knowledge (and savings) with us. It may be simply that our mums were the only ones with the patience left to listen to our start-up ideas or worries for the millionth time – but this role is hugely important.

They set an example

For women starting out, mothers are tremendously influential – but even today the debate about stay-at-home versus working parent still goes on. A 2015 Harvard study found that working mums tended to produce daughters with better jobs than those of stay-at-home mums. However, the children of home-making mums learn first hand a lot about household management, multi-tasking and sheer hard graft from their mothers.

All mums can demonstrate to their children that having a baby doesn’t have to change who you are and what you’re capable of. As Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister recently commented, “I’m pregnant, not incapacitated.”

Our mums believed in us

In an interview last year, entrepreneur Richard Branson’s mum said that she and her husband “opted to give [Richard] plenty of scope to learn by [his] mistakes”. She may have felt nervous, but her maternal instinct to encourage a little risk paid off – even if, in her own words, many early enterprises ended “with us picking up the pieces”. Her trust and belief helped give young Ricky the confidence to experiment. As the billionaire says, “I am where I am because I was allowed to fail.”

Celebrating all women

March isn’t just about mothers. International Women’s Day (8 March) celebrates all women, whether they’re mums or not. This year, the theme is #PressforProgress which addresses gender parity – a huge topic in business communities across the world.

Did your mum (or another influential woman) inspire or support you to start your business? Take some time to thank her – and when the time comes, pass it on to the next generation.