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Business Advice From My Mom

From one small business owner to another.

Three books next to a camera on a desk.
Reflections from a successful serial entrepreneur.

When I made the decision to leave collegiate coaching, to start my own business as a Certified Online Business Manager, many people were surprised. Fortunately, everyone has been extremely supportive. Cheering me on.

Though I was taken aback by the number of people who called me courageous.

am I courageous?

I guess I am. There is a fair amount of risk involved with starting a business. And to be honest I do have the never ending thought of “will this work out” running through my head.

But, since I had seen it done successfully, it showed me it was possible.

My mom, Jane Jenni, is a serial entrepreneur. Having seen her start multiple businesses made my decision a little less scary.

I know that’s not the case for everyone who ventures out on their own, so I’m grateful to have had a role model to gain confidence from. As well as the support and encouragement.

So when I started my weekly Instagram LIVE series it felt only fitting to have my mom as my first guest.

My goal for the Instagram LIVE interviews is to bring on small business owners who you and I can learn from. Hear about their struggles, and wins, to help put things into perspective.

But on a personal note, I’m most happy about the fact that my mom and I have that conversation recorded. It wasn’t necessarily why I asked her to do the IG LIVE, but it was an amazing outcome.

Here’s a quick intro to my mom, Jane Jenni:

  • She was born and raised in St. Louis Park, MN.

  • Attended UC Berkeley (1964-1968) and received her degree as a teacher of the visually impaired. But it wasn’t her forever career.

  • After moving back to the Midwest, now as a single mother, she needed to find a career that allowed flexibility to be home when my brother and I got out of school.

  • Having always done photography as a hobby, she started taking workshops that lead to friends asking her to do portraits and weddings. While it helped her dip her toe into the entrepreneurial world, photography didn’t provide the income she needed.

  • Through the photography world she learned about “repping” and soon started representing photographers and illustrators.

  • After 13 years representing other creatives she felt it was time to develop her own product. Which ended up being the thing she was most passionate about.

  • The creation of Jane Jenni Inc came about in 2000 out of our home in St. Paul, MN. The thing that put the business on the map were her personality icons (check out a sample of her products here).

  • By the time the business closed in 2016 Jane Jenni products could be found in most US states including Alaska & Hawaii, Japan, England, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

Pretty dang impressive if I do say so myself :)

Being very close in age to when my mom started her first business, I wanted to see what insights she had for me. What could I learn from her that would help me as I navigate building my own business?

Here are her top five bits of advice:

  1. Find what you're passionate about.

  2. Be patient with the process.

  3. Put yourself out there and network.

  4. Trust your gut, and your intuition. If something comes your way that you didn't expect take a look at it. Maybe it's something that would work out. And recognize when something appeals to you. Go for it.

  5. Don’t be afraid of hard work.

Being patient with the process is always a good reminder and the one that stuck with me the most. With everything being so fast paced we tend to always want immediate results. But most times this is not reality. Taking the time to enjoy the stage you're in, learn from what's worked and not worked, and apply what you've learned to the next stage of your business is all about the process.

So what would she have done differently?

The funny thing is she answered this question pretty quickly.

Get help.

My mom said:

I'm kind of a control freak. And I wanted to have complete control of the business and all aspects of it. So I did everything. I wish I had learned how to let go and get help on the other areas that I didn't need to control. Being an entrepreneur takes up a lot of time. I needed more help. I think it ultimately hurt my business and it wasn't sustainable. Only one person can do so much. It's a lot when you're coming up with ideas, designing a product, going to production, pulling the orders, shipping, and invoicing.

As a follow up question I asked her where she felt she best served her business. Her response:

"coming up with ideas and doing the research. Communicating with people, finding out more about what was working and what wasn't. I should have stuck to that. Rather than packing orders."

So even though my mom saw great success over an extended period of time, her need to do everything in her business kept it from growing to its maximum potential. A great bit of advice for all of us.

Here's how I'm using my mom's reflections in the structure of my own business.

  • I'm creating my vision for where I want my business to go

  • With the vision in mind I'm creating systems so when I hire down the road it will be a smooth transition

  • When I'm ready to hire I will delegate tasks that someone else can do just as well which will allow me to focus on what only I can do.

Thank you to my mom, Jane Jenni, for your love, support, and guidance.

If you’re interested in hearing the entire Instagram LIVE interview with my mom check it out here.

And if you're feeling like it’s time to give up some control, so you can focus on the parts of your business that only you can do, let’s schedule a time to chat.



About Dusty Mattison

Dusty Mattison is a Certified Online Business Manager, strategist, systems fanatic and leader. She helps frazzled small business owners go from being the bottleneck to Courageous CEO with winning systems + teams.

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