Waste not, want not: Mom’s wisdom endures for entrepreneurs

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been interested in business. In my own way, I understood what it meant to have an idea, understand your target market, obtain resources to create a product, and ultimately, sell it for a profit.

My mother had her own hair salon in Guatemala. She understood how to run her small business, from operations to suppliers to customer service– the whole picture. When we moved to Canada, she worked at a mannequin factory when I was younger. My mother had access to many fabrics and materials that were considered waste. The employer encouraged their employees to take the waste, as it could be used for many things around the house, but not enough for the business requirements.

At the time, my local community center had many young people who were interested in pocket change purses/wallets and throw pillows for their bedrooms. Since I had taken few home economics courses in middle school, I began to take the scraps of fabric to create unique pouches and tailored throw pillows. I wasn’t very good at first, so I got help from my mom to create these customized products for which I took orders and sold them.

Most valuable lesson
By creating a desirable product out of scraps, we didn’t need to spend money on resources other than labour. As you can imagine, we made a profit!  Since my mother worked as her own boss, she knew what was required to provide a customized service.

What did this teach me about business?
I understood that I needed to identify the needs of the market, master customization, and most importantly, I learned that there is power in the demand of a niche market I had tapped into. Needless to say, it was one of the greatest summers I ever had, with lots of spending money. I learned from an early age that the business possibilities are endless.

What exactly did my mother teach me?
She helped me understand some vital perspectives and strategies:

  • How one idea can help you create opportunities
  • Having a work ethic is important to your character
  • Listen carefully and understand the needs of people (customers)
  • Be polite and caring, which speaks to customer relations
  • Have respect and integrity towards your peers and create a personal code of ethics
  • Lastly, she taught me to keep a watchful eye on all my surroundings and identify opportunities/pitfalls in relationships and business ideas

Ultimately, my mother taught me to have a personal brand in the market place – an invaluable lesson! My mother has been a pillar who supports the many dreams I have for my life. The inspiration she instilled in me for business is undeniable.

Here is to all the mothers that inspire entrepreneurs!


CesarCesar Gomez Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at CFIB is helping its members, who are small business owners, with questions about compliance. These questions cover such areas as Employment Standards, Health and Safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passions are reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar by clicking here.

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