It was recently pointed out to me that I have had many business mentors, instead of one “guru.” I hadn’t thought about it that way. But the conversation got me thinking about my business journey and there’s a pattern to my thinking – a plan of action. Here are a few guideposts:
1. Find mentors in the right places.
The best business advice I ever got was to join a peer business group. I needed living examples of people running the kind of virtual assistant business I was contemplating. The bonus – I got to take on their overflow work, providing cash flow.
2. Don’t expect to find all the answers in one place.
Business is moving so fast, it’s running itself over. There is no reason to believe that any one person has the time, even if they are gifted, to learn it all. When I needed a business plan, the service offered by the Small Business Association guided me, saving me hours of time and aggravation.
3. Know what you want to know.
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In order for that to happen, you need to seek out the knowledge. “What am I willing to do to learn this?” How much time and money am I willing to risk?
4. Dress rehearsal.
Subcontracting let me live the experience, before making the entrepreneurial leap. Observing how other people meet challenges and deal with surprises has saved me hundreds of hours – and dollars. I’ve still made plenty of mistakes, often due to my inability to understand my mentor’s advice.
5. Change is constant.
Our roles change in all aspects of life, including business. Our ability to re-examine our goals as we learn new information and master skills, positions us to mentor others. Mentoring is not for everyone, but if you can share the wisdom you gained with aspiring entrepreneurs, it’s affirming. Take time to ensure the person who seeks your support is prepared to invest their time and energy in their stated goal.
It’s not what happens to us, but how we deal with a situation. Mentoring is the best way to get the most up-to-date information in your field. It is also a way to keep your industry alive by ensuring aspiring entrepreneurs don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If the guidance comes from more than one individual, that still counts.