As entrepreneurs, we can fall into the trap of trying to do everything ourselves. That’s one of the biggest mistakes a new entrepreneur can make. We are all strong in some areas but have gaps in others and particularly in the start-up or growth phases, you need someone who will point out your weaknesses and help you navigate solutions.
You need someone who has been through the process and helped others do the same, someone who can look at your business objectively and help you avoid costly mistakes.
If you’re thinking, “I’m just starting out. I can’t afford to pay a coach or mentor”, let me ask you this: can you afford to spend the first year or so floundering with direction and losing money because you aren’t making informed decisions?
What about finding someone who is willing to take you under her wing and mentor you for free? Sounds like an ideal scenario, right? Occasionally, it does work but my experience and that of other teachers, coaches and guides has been this: you are much more likely to follow through when you are paying for guidance and advise. Psychologically, we put more value on something that we pay for. We’re less likely to procrastinate or let our enthusiasm fizzle if we’ve paid someone to help us move forward with it. (The same is true for Masterminds. I’ve experimented with paid and unpaid masterminds and discovered that those who made the investment to be part of an ongoing mastermind were much more successful.)
So how do you find a mentor who’s a good fit for you? A business mentor should be someone who has successfully done what you are trying to do; start and grow a business. Ideally, they should have started and grown several businesses. It’s not necessary that they started the same kind of business but if your goal is to start small with little investment and build slowly, you don’t want a mentor who gathered investors, hired staff and built a high-tech conglomerate. Unless you want to work with corporations, you probably don’t want a mentor who’s spent the majority of her career working with corporations.
If you want someone who will help you move your business forward, look for a mentor who is not afraid to tell you when you are making mistakes. While a mentor should be supportive and optimistic, an effective mentor is not always a cheerleader. If you want someone to tell you how great and smart you are, call your mom or best friend. The right mentor for you will be a trusted advisor who acts as a sounding board for your ideas and offers insights and a fresh perspective for helping you reach your goals.
Yes, I’m a big believer in not borrowing a lot of money to start or grow your business. I do believe there’s one investment that is worth making even if you have to use credit. Investing in a mentor or guide will pay big dividends and is the best holiday gift you can give yourself.