During the recent “Scaling New Heights” in Orlando, Florida, I found someone I knew only as an acquaintance had a family background similar to mine. The cotton mills of Georgia gave us a bond that we didn’t know existed until an informal conversation brought it to the surface.
Both my parents and grandparents worked in the cotton mill. In our little town, through most of the 20th Century, it was about the only occupation available. It is the reason my mother beat near impossible odds to get herself to a college. And the reason my dad moved us to Florida when I was four.
There was no future for them in that little town. They had grown up during the Depression—hungry and cold more often than they shared with me, I am sure. And they did not want that for their daughters.
So, as soon as possible, they took us out of there.
The history and work ethic they lived with taught me more than any college course could ever attempt. A decade or so after we moved to Tampa, my dad started his own business. It was successful for 37 years.
Here are the most important things I learned from my parents’ example:
No. 1 — Nothing is more important than honesty
If you make a mistake, own up to it and fix it. It seems desirable at times to hide the errors or correct them without mentioning it, but I have never had a client leave me because I admitted to a mistake. In fact, I have found them very grateful for the clarity.
No. 2 — The customer is always right
Always. No, of course they are not. But make them feel that they are. The big lesson here is, do not argue with them. Find a way to show them a better path without making them feel belittled.
No. 3 — Everyone pays the same for a loaf of bread
It took me a while to understand what my dad meant by this. In regard to his employees, each one was just as special as any other. From the very entry level warehouse worker to the vice president, everyone is valuable. Everyone is necessary.
No. 4 — Never stop learning
When we moved to Tampa, the University of South Florida was new. My mother jumped at the opportunity to increase her education and was in the very first class to receive a Master’s Degree from USF. She did so well with it, that she kept going and got a second one. And her career was amazing because of it.
No. 5 — Share the wealth
It is pretty cool to make a chunky profit. But unless you are a sole proprietor, you did not make it by yourself. It is always a good idea to reward your team for the success they have helped create.
These are just a few of the things I learned from my parents. Though they are both gone, I carry them with me every day in the way I run my business and live my life. If yours are still with you, take a moment to say thank you. You will be glad you did.
Susan Pruskin has been using QuickBooks since 1995, when she first took a floppy disk out of the green box and shoved it into the A drive. A multiple member of Insightful Accountant’s prestigious Top 100 ProAdvisor list—including in 2022—Susan holds certification in every product Intuit offers, including the rigorous Advanced certification. The founder of Susan Pruskin Consulting, she has been a ProAdvisor since 2007.
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