Being self-employed and relying solely on yourself to produce income is no easy feat. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s also not something you want to try to do alone.
But not doing it alone brings up the ever popular and usually controversial topic of mentoring. If you’re a solopreneur or small business owner, you may be wondering if hiring a mentor is something that is necessary. You may have already hired a mentor and found it to be a great experience or something decidedly less pleasant.
In our current world, where so much business is done online, you’ve probably experienced more than your fair share of attending webinars, teleseminars and free downloads. You’ve seen the hype, the promises, the luxe lifestyles that are splashed about on Facebook as “proof” that these professional mentors are successful. Some of them are and some of them are just really good at creating the perception that they are. In the end though, there is still the very real question of, “Is mentoring necessary, and will it work?”
THOSE are great questions so in this article, I’m going to address what I’ve come to see as the two biggest myths people have about mentoring and the one internal misalignment that can really keep you stalled in your business.
Now, before I continue, let me fully disclose that I have invested tens of thousands of dollars to be mentored and that I am also in the greater mentoring/teaching/coaching industry myself. So you can safely assume I’m a big believer in it. Having said that, I’m passionate about this topic because people often don’t know what they don’t know and having a different perspective on this subject could be the difference between your business surviving and growing or not. So let’s get started.
Myth #1 – One mentor, one time, will get me where I want to be. This is usually a big source of frustration for new business owners. After investing in all the normal start-up costs, they eventually decide to take a leap of faith and invest in a mentor. Straight out of the gate, they are spending a good amount of money and so put an expectation on themselves that after X amount of time with a mentor, who will help them with X topics, everything will be fine and their business will be up, running and profitable. While this does sometimes happen, it more often doesn’t or at least not in the way the business owners expects. So this creates a belief that, “I already invested in a high end mentor/program and didn’t hit my financial goals so why should I do it again?” Great question. Here’s how I have come to experience this.
Think of your business like a house. You don’t just break ground, you have to build it. You don’t just build it, you have to move into it. And then presumably, you’ll want to decorate it. That takes multiple people, with multiple skill sets and multiple investments. Your business is complex and constantly evolving. No one mentor is going to solve all your problems or have all your answers and if they tell you they are the only person/program you need, run. People have different areas of expertise and you need to either excel or hire in each of those areas. Not enough online leads? A marketing mentor would be a great fit. Leads are coming in and they’re not converting to paying clients? You need a sales mentor. Not sure of the overall vision or the bigger picture of what you want your company to look like? You need a business strategist.
One of the first lessons I learned is that having a mentor is an ongoing process. Why? Because business is like life. If you ever get to the point in life where you think you have all the answers and don’t need anyone else to help you on the journey, you’re in trouble. Same thing with your business.
So no, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus mentor who is going to come down the chimney one time and solve everything for you. Your business should grow and evolve and change and that takes a village, not a one-time, one person solution.
Myth #2 – I have to stop spending money until I start making some. This is another good one and although at first blush it sounds prudent, it actually can be the death of your company.
Most business owners, especially solopreneurs, use this as the number one excuse to not continue to invest in their business. This is sad because this one thing can kill your business faster than almost anything else.
Why? Because the old adage of, “You have to spend money to make money” is true. Notice I didn’t say, “Spend a LOT of money” but you do have to invest. What’s scary in the self-employed world, is that no one is handing you a paycheck every week so you start thinking about money differently. However, if you had a salaried job, you wouldn’t hesitate to “spend” money that hasn’t cleared your bank account yet to get ahead in your career. Think that’s not the case? Let’s examine.
You get that dream job so you spend a good chunk of change before your first day so you have the wardrobe you need to look and be successful. You need transportation to get to work so you borrow money to buy a car before you’ve gotten your first paycheck. See how it’s the same thing? In both cases, you’re not paying for the goods you’ve purchased with money from the job because you aren’t making money on that job yet. You just believe you will and you’re counting on that. This is where the fear/faith paradox steps in and you need to decide you’re going to be a business owner or not. In the above example, you have the faith and belief that X Company will pay you the money you need to support the buying decisions you made to excel at that job. In self-employment world, you’re Human Resources, doling out the paycheck. You have to believe that your company will have the resources to pay you so you can get what you need to be successful.
There really is a big difference between investing in yourself and bad debt. Bad debt is paying for something you can’t afford that won’t have any ROI. Investing in your business so you can earn a living, especially in something you love to do, is a risk you need to learn how to take. Yes, go about it wisely but please, go about it!
We’ve talked about the two myths, now let’s move on to the misalignment. That is, I consistently charge more than what I’m willing to invest.
This one is my favorite head shakers of all time and I see it constantly. People who say they charge $5K for their clients to work with them but who aren’t willing to invest in a $5K mentoring experience themselves because “it’s too expensive.” Pardon?
If you feel qualified to charge top dollar (whatever that is for you) but are too cheap to pay top dollar, good luck creating a successful business. In addition to being illogical, I strongly believe there is a sowing and reaping component in there. It’s no surprise to me that the people who hold to this belief are constantly financially strapped. Don’t be one of these people.
In fact, use this line of thought to have a mind shift. If you feel that you deserve to be paid for the work that you do, why doesn’t this hold true for other people? You know the amount of time, effort and energy you put in behind the scenes to deliver the final goods or services to your clients. It’s a lot, right? Remember, the people who are offering mentoring experience the same thing.
Bottom line is, your business has a bottom line and that’s the thing you need to keep as the number one priority; short, mid and long term. Make your investing decisions from there and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. It’s going to be required of you over and over again as an entrepreneur anyway!
Jane Garee is a mentor at The Food Styling School and contributor at The Artful Dish. Jane is known as The Sales Strategist for the Non-Sales Person ™
Jane’s passion is helping business owners gain confidence to take their brand and services into the world through sales strategies that uncover their strongest business traits, position themselves for success and stand out in a crowd so their companies prosper. Jane teachers her clients how to create sales verbiage and deliver it with authenticity and finesse, so they have the confidence to “sell” themselves in a way that feels natural and easy.
She is now on a quest to teach others that selling is not just necessary, it’s actually fun. You can visit jane at www.janegaree.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org