Part 2 of My Interview with Sabrina Parsons: Business Lessons

In Part 1 of my interview with the extraordinary Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software, she discussed business planning, work-life balance, and how she manages to be a Mommy CEO. She says, “I am not sure you can ever really balance your life between work and home if your career is important to you” but judging by the photo to the right (taken by USA Today for a feature on working moms), it looks like she has found an almost-perfect balance between family and career.

Today, Sabrina shares her top 5 business lessons for entrepreneurs:

  • People are the most important asset in your business. People are also much harder to manage than products or services. As an entrepreneur, you may have heard this from other people: Hire slowly, but fire quickly. This is a very true statement. People will make or break your business so get the best and don’t settle for less.
  • Set the culture for your company early on. Think about the “culture” you want to maintain and what it takes to do that. For me, and Palo Alto Software, being a company of entrepreneurial-minded employees, with a very family-friendly attitude, is what works. I could never get upset at an employee who puts his/her family first, because that is what I do. People know that; the people who work here love it and appreciate it. Many people say this is the best place they have ever worked at. In my opinion, that is not necessarily because it is the best place to work – it is because it is the best place to work for the people that work here. They are a cultural fit with our philosophy.
  • Planning is an on-going process that helps manage the business. Your plans will not always be right but they will help you understand where you want to go, how you will get there, and what to do when obstacles get in the way.
  • There is more to life than business. Business will be here today, and tomorrow, and the next day. A healthy approach to running your business includes time off to focus on things that make you personally fulfilled, whether they are family, kids, hobbies, etc.
  • You will never be able to do it all. There is no such thing as “super mom.” Compromises will have to be made. Be honest about the compromises and compromise where you can without losing the morals and values that make you who you are.

I would like to thank you, Sabrina, for taking the time to talk to our readers this week. Palo Alto Software has two websites that every entrepreneur should visit: Bplans.com and Mplans.com. Follow Sabrina as she takes on the world by becoming a reader of Mommy CEO.

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