I used to have a Humanities professor who was fond of saying, “The more you know, the less you know”. She was talking about life and the world in general, but it also applies to owning a small business.
Because of the nature of creative businesses many of us slowly “fell into” it. We started making something and wore it out and about. People saw it, loved it, and then wanted one for themselves. The more we made and sold the more the word got out until one day we realized were were operating a small business.
Whether you are running a creative business because it was your plan all along, or because you fell into it, there will likely come a time when you feel like you’ve gone as far as you can with what you currently know.
When you get to this point, you may wonder if you need to take some college courses, start something new, or just keep muddling along until you figure out the next step on your own. Maybe what you really need is a mentor.
A mentor is someone who is farther ahead on the path than you are who is willing to team up with you and help you learn. When looking to someone to be a mentor look for a powerful role model. Someone who has the kind of life and/or work that you’d like to have. Find someone you respect and can look up to, someone who has similar values and outlook. Don’t just look to the first person who has “made it” hoping it will lead you to quick success.
Keep in mind that mentoring can take many forms. It can be a monthly meeting, a quarterly phone call, a quick cup of coffee once a week, or maybe a steady E-mail conversation.
Ask yourself why you want a mentor. Do you need specific questions answered or advice on a particular topic? Are you looking mostly for networking and the opportunity to get your foot in the door with a particular group? Do you simply need someone to throw out thoughts and idea to in order to make sense of things? Knowing what you need before approaching a potential mentor will save you both a lot of time.
Try your mentor on for size. Before asking someone to mentor you, you might ask for advice or input on one very specific problem to see how they respond. Did their answer seem sensible and understandable? Did it make good sense to the way you do things? Did it challenge you to think differently? Before jumping in and asking someone to be a mentor to you, be sure that their style is one you can work with. That’s not to say that you need to find someone just like you; in fact, you may learn much more from someone who works differently from you (an extrovert to your introvert for instance). You will want to find someone though who works in a way that makes you feel good about the process, your abilities and yourself.
Have you gotten to a place where you think you might need a mentor? How did you know it was time to look for help?
By: Vicki O’Dell, The Creative Goddess
You can find more of Vicki’s articles right here on her profile page!