Article by: MaryEllen | Monday, November 3, 2014

By MaryEllen Tribby

While working with and studying entrepreneurial legends for over 25 years I have concluded there are three main reasons people start their own businesses. They are:

1. Money
2. Freedom/flexibility
3. Cause/passion

Some will debate that money is the best reason because it takes the emotion out of business. Others say that flexibility is the best reason because it allows you to live your life in the manor that best suits you and your family. While others still say that following your passion is the true road to happiness.

This debate is endless because all sides are plausible.

However, for me it is not an either or situation. You see for me it is incorporating all three and that my friend makes for a mighty fine life.

But it does seem that all entrepreneurs have one thing in common. They all had a defining moment that sparked their decision. They all had that “ah-ha” moment that could not be ignored. They all had an epiphany of a lifetime that would change their legacy.

I had wondered what that would be like to experience such an epiphany. Well the old saying “be careful what you wish for . . .” is so true.

What Doesn’t Kill Us, Will Make Us Stronger

“At this point, we can’t rule out malignancy,” the doctor said.

I just looked at my husband. I knew he was asking the doctor questions, but I didn’t hear any words. I saw his lips moving and felt his strong hand on top of mine. But all I could think was I needed to wake up. (“This is not happening. I know I am just having a bad dream.”)

It wasn’t until I was in the front seat of our car that I realized it wasn’t a dream.

“Are we going home?” I asked.

“No,” my husband said. “We are going to get your ultrasound and more x-rays.”

“Oh,” I replied.

It didn’t really matter where we were going, because all I could think of at that moment were the three beautiful children my husband and I have been blessed with.

First, my thoughts went to my ten-year-old, Mikaela. Without me, who would she talk to about boys? Who would show her how to put on makeup and help her pick out a college? But the most painful thought was… who would comfort her in her loss?

For the past three years, Mikaela has accompanied me on the Race for the Cure breast cancer walk. She is well aware of the horrors of treatment. She’s often commented about people walking in honor of a loved one. For her, I knew there would be no sugarcoating the truth.

Then my thoughts shifted to Connor, my eight-year-old son – an amazing football who plays it cool with his dad and friends. He is an undeniably sweet boy who always writes a special card for me on Mother’s Day. What would he do next May? Would he pretend to write a card, not telling his teacher that he has no one to give it to?

Suddenly, I felt like throwing up. I asked my husband to pull over.

Once back in the car, all I could think about was Delanie, my four-year-old princess. She is so used to having both my husband and me tuck her in at night. She wakes up each morning with a smile on her face and kisses to spare. Have I made enough of an impact on her life so that in 10, 12, 15 years from now she will remember me?

Over the following three weeks, I was poked, prodded, and sliced.

On the 22nd day, I found out that I did not have breast cancer.

You would think that I would be so happy that I could not wait to get back to my normal routine. But no, something happened. Going through that breast cancer scare changed my life in many ways.

You see, I’ve always wanted to start my own business – a business that would empower working moms. A business that would provide the resources and tools for EVERY working mom to lead a healthier, wealthier, more blended lifestyle.

It is my belief that working moms have more influence on what our world will look like than any other single group of people. Plus, they have the responsibility to match. I even purchased the URL for my new business way back in July of 2007.

But I already had a job. And although it was a job where I worked a lot, too much actually – I made good money. So I kept saying, “Someday. Someday I will start that new business.”
I’m not sure what kept holding me back before the cancer scare. Perhaps it was the fear of the unknown or that fact that secretly I needed to prove something to myself.  That I could be a big-time CEO and have a family while writing best-selling books.

When I would speak at conferences, working moms who heard about my career accomplishments and family life always asked me, “How? How did you do it?” Those moms were always with me. Tucked in the back of my brain. Not forgotten, but put on hold for “someday.”

But after the scare, the need to create this new business and help other working moms have the lifestyle they wanted and deserved was overwhelming. I could not “NOT” do it.

I have to admit unlike most working moms, I had developed systems and strategies for leading for the most part a complete and fulfilling life. I had raised kids who were strong, confident, and compassionate. And I knew that I could teach any working mom who wanted to make more money to accomplish that as well.

So in one of the worst recessions America has ever seen, with one of the highest unemployment rates in history, I left the best job I ever had in my 25-year career. Three months later, Working Moms Only was a reality.

What I learned along the way will help you jumpstart any new business. You see, I did not take a dime from any investors, even though the offers were there. My husband and I took a relatively small amount of money out of our personal bank account and put that money into our new company.

Several of my industry colleagues questioned me about turning down investors and using my own money. My answer was simple. This was the way I had been teaching others to start a business at my last job – and this was the way I was going to do it.

Now almost five years later, I live life on my terms. I can work from anywhere I desire. I only work with people I truly like and respect and on projects that I believe in.

And here are the ten most valuable lessons I have learned thus far.

The 10 Best Business Relationship Building Tips to Help Your Profits Soar!

1.    Know something personal about the people you do business with. Some people don’t believe in mixing business with pleasure. But your business should be your pleasure! Think about how much time you spend on your business. It makes it so much nicer to know what’s important to your colleagues.  For anyone who has kids, there is nothing more important to them. Make an effort to know their children’s names.

Or if your colleague is an avid golfer or tennis player, ask them how their game is going.  This doesn’t have to monopolize the entire conversation. But it is a great way to start off a business lunch or meeting, especially if you have not seen that person in a while.

2.    Always be sincere. Has this ever happened to you? You are at a conference, and you meet someone in your industry. You seem to hit it off well. And you think this could be a good business connection. Your new business connection even initiates the card exchange and says, “Call me anytime.” You follow up right away with a phone call or email… and nothing happens. After a few weeks of trying, you realize it’s a dead end.

If you have no intention of cultivating a relationship do not give the impression otherwise.  It’s really ok not to offer cards at conferences. And if someone asks you if they can call and you know you are not interested – tell them up front. Be polite and respectful but never give the impression that you are going to do something when you know you will not.

3.    Respond to colleagues in a timely manner. We are all busy. Someone else’s biggest priority is usually not our own. However, if you agree to do something for someone, do it in a timely manner.

Recently a colleague wrote a book and wanted some feedback on his first chapter. Unfortunately, his request went onto my junk email folder. When I saw the request three days later, I immediately sent him an email explaining the situation and told him I would read the chapter right away and send him my comments.

It was 11:00 p.m. when I saw the request, but I still read the chapter and sent off my comments right before midnight.  Sure, I would rather have gone to bed and done it in the morning. But I knew this was important to him. We had been colleagues for 10 years. We had worked on multiple projects together, and he never missed a deadline.

Sure enough he was online and sent me a big thank you as soon as he received my email.

4.    Always arrive on time.  Fashionably late does not exist in business. Showing up late for business meetings or lunches lets the other person know you don’t respect their time and that you think your time is more valuable. It also makes one question if the project will get done on time.

5.    Never use your children as an excuse. Many times the reason for not finishing a report or being late for a meeting very well may be because one of your children wasn’t feeling well, or they couldn’t find their homework or you forgot to pack school lunches.

Regardless of the reason, never walk into a business meeting that you are late for and announce that Spot ate Carmon’s homework and you spent the last hour redoing the assignment. Simply apologize for being tardy and ask what you missed and move on.

There will be times when real emergencies occur. At that point it is perfectly fine to let your colleagues know that you need to leave because your child needs you.

6.    Be Positive. No one likes to be around cranky people.  Beside the fact that cranky people take the fun out of things, it can be draining and counter-productive. A study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that positive people accomplish more than negative people.

7.    Know something about your potential business associate’s company. If you are off to meet with a potential business associate, make sure you do your homework. Understand the company’s main function and core competencies. Know how long they have been in business. Have a basic understanding of how you can work together.  With the Internet, all of this information is just a keyboard away.

8.    Never, ever gossip. Being known as a gossip is the fastest way to destroy business relationship. Regardless of your skill set, no one will want to work with you. Gossip can destroy careers and takes up valuable time that could be spent on gratifying situations.

9.    Give more than you get. Karma does exist. If you are known as the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) type, you need to work to change your image. When you are willing to help others without payback, it comes back to you ten-fold. Don’t get me wrong. We are all running businesses, working towards maintaining a balanced life. However, helping a business colleague without the expectation of payback will be far more beneficial to you in the end.

10. Just say no. Being a working mom, we try to please everyone. However there are times when saying no to a request in business is better than saying yes. If your plate is full and you know that you will not be able to honor the request in a satisfactory manner, then don’t do it. If you know the outcome will be substandard, you are at risk of hindering your credibility, disappointing your colleagues, and missing deadlines on projects you have already committed to.

By saying no, your colleagues will actually respect you more for your honesty and commitment to finishing what you already started.

These lessons alone will help you make more money and gain more flexibility in your business…leading you to the laptop lifestyle you deserve. 

And this is important  . . .

Yes, my epiphany spoke to my passion. However starting and cultivating a profitable business is important. And managing that business while procuring flexibility adds tremendous value to my life.
As you can see all three sides of the triangle, money, passion and flexibility should be considered in starting and running your business. As your business grows, the priorities may shift. Some days all three could share in equally. Some days one or two may take a strong lead. Just like all aspects of your life, your business is continuously evolving.