Blog Entries

Step 3: Reach Out to a Mentor

The point is to build a relationship with a professional so you can learn from their experience. That is the purpose of a mentorship.

Mentorship is crucial in starting your business. I felt very vulnerable asking for help, but I was also eager to learn.

My best advice when it comes to reaching out for a mentor is to be resourceful when it comes how you find mentors. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. I encourage you to branch out wide in your search for a mentor.

You might have a hard time finding a mentor. Don’t worry. This is normal. Finding a good mentor can be difficult and time consuming. Consider this, the title of mentor can be intimidating for some people. The word implies a level of commitment either emotionally or time-wise. Some people do not feel like they can make that level of commitment.

This is where being resourceful becomes important. Remember that a mentor is someone you can turn to for advice. At the very least, they are resource to answer a couple of questions and give pointers. Sometimes, that is all someone can commit and that’s fine.

I strongly recommend refraining from the phrase “Will you be my mentor”. That phrase can be very intimidating for the receiver.

Instead, I recommend starting with a couple of questions here and there or maybe even an informational interview to get the ball rolling. Take time to learn more about the person and try to build a relationship from there.

Personally, I found my mentors through recommendations, LinkedIn, peers, professors, and networking events. You can also find mentors through online forums and social media support groups. Remember to cast your net wide.

When you approach someone who you think would be a good mentor, reach out to them via email or LinkedIn. Ask them for no more than 15 minutes of their time to answer a few questions. This conversation could happen over the phone, email, or a LinkedIn conversation.

The introduction could go something like this: “Hi. My name is XYZ and I recently started a business. I saw that you have been in the industry for a while. Do you have any recommendations regarding the best [credit card payment processor] to use?”

You can replace the words in the bracket with anything and it does not have to sound exactly like what I stated above, but you get the point. You want the question you ask to be simple and relevant.

If they respond, great! Thank them for their time and take their advice into consideration.

If they do not respond, it’s okay. Move on to another prospect.

A couple weeks later, follow up on that recommendation. For example, “Hi ABC. Thank you for recommending 123 to me. I went through with the recommendation. 123 is great, but now I am having issues with Z. Have you had experience working with Z? If so, what did you do?”

From here, you can start a dialog and ease your way into the relationship. The point is to build a relationship with a professional so you can learn from their experience. That is the purpose of a mentorship.

[WARNING: Be honest in your communication. If you did not take their advice, then do not say that you did. Ask them about their opinion on something else.]

The person you talk to may never actually consider themselves a mentor, but if the relationship continues then that is what they will essentially become.

Keep this in mind, you do not have to meet your mentors in person. I rarely see my mentors in person. (We’re all so busy). Fortunately, you do not have to see someone all the time to have a fruitful mentorship. It is all about communication and consistency.

I wish you the best of luck in your search for a mentor. If you have any questions or concerns, let me know. I’m here to help!

Step 2: Claim Your Identity

Being an entrepreneur is not about the amount of stuff you have or the number of clients in you book. It’s about you and the vision you have for yourself. Entrepreneurship is an extension of who you are as an individual and the commitment to make that part of you viable. Everything else- the office, the business cards, the contacts, the website- is secondary.

It took me a while to claim my identity as an entrepreneur.

I thought the true mark of an entrepreneur was in the financial statements, but that’s not where entrepreneurship starts.

In fact, every entrepreneur starts with an idea. That is exactly all I had in the beginning- an idea.

I did not have a website, trademark, clients, pricing, mission or vision statement, mentors or anything else to flesh out my ideas.

I wanted to see the “proof” of being an entrepreneur before I started calling myself one.

Now I know that the relentless pursuit of an idea is all the proof anyone needs to call themselves an entrepreneur.

Early in the beginning, I had an identity crisis. This was in part because I could not find my voice, but also because I did not want to take on the mantle of entrepreneurship. The whole situation was weird. I wanted to start my own business and I really liked the services I provided, but at the same time I was scared to call myself an entrepreneur.

My insecurity came from my lack of stuff. I thought “real” entrepreneurs had offices and business cards and contacts and all this extra stuff that I lacked.

Now I know that’s not true.

The real turning point for me was when I started going to networking events. Before my first networking event, I created business cards and my website. Even though I had a couple of the things I thought “real” entrepreneurs had, I still did not feel like I could claim that title.

The purpose of a networking event is to build meaningful relationships. During that networking event, everything synced. I was excited to hear other peoples’ stories and elated to share my own. I enjoyed engaging in a community of professionals and I felt like I belonged. Plus explaining not just what but why I did what I did over and over again made me fall more in love with my business.

I realized that night that my business is an extension of myself.

Being an entrepreneur is not about the amount of stuff you have or the number of clients in you book. It’s about you and the vision you have for yourself. Entrepreneurship is an extension of who you are as an individual and the commitment to make that part of you viable. Everything else- the office, the business cards, the contacts, the website- is secondary.

Without you all that stuff you think you need (I thought I needed) is meaningless.

If you have an idea that you are willing to pursue relentlessly, then you are an entrepreneur.

Claim your identity. 

Step 1: Find Your Voice

“Since I am an entrepreneur and my clients buy my services, they are essentially buying pieces of my experience. Therefore, my business is personal and the personal is business.”

It took me over six months to start producing original content. I started my business in October 2016, but I did not start publishing original content until June 2017.

Why?

To be honest, I did not think anyone would listen to what I had to say. Furthermore, I did not know what to say. When I started  my business, I could not find my voice. Since I could not find my own voice, I was overwhelmed by the voices of my mentors. My mentors are amazing, but they intimidated me in the beginning.

I wanted to embody their level of credibility. I thought in order to have that level of credibility, I had to sound a certain way, be a certain age and have X many years of experience. Essentially, I was trying to embody the voice of my mentors. Furthermore, I am a young female entrepreneur going into consulting. There are industry professionals who have literally being consulting for all of my life. Faced with that type of pressure, I froze.

My mentors are amazing and so am I, but it took me a while to realize that. I was finally able to find my own voice when I stopped holding myself hostage to superficial standards. When I decided for myself that what I had to share was valuable and developed my own standards of what was good enough, everything started falling into place.

The more authentic I became with my brand, the more people I attracted. For example, I have shared my personal experiences with my time abroad, learning a new language and experiencing new things. Right now, I’m sharing about a time I felt very vulnerable in my business. These are all things I used to think were off limits until I realized that everything that influences my life personally becomes a part of my brand.

Since I am an entrepreneur and my clients buy my services, they are essentially buying pieces of my experience. Therefore, my business is personal and the personal is business.

The first step in my journey as an entrepreneur was finding my voice. This first step took months. I started my business in October 2016, but I don’t think I found my voice until June 2017 at the  earliest.

My biggest piece of advice, especially early on in your business is to find your voice.