Over the past month or so I’ve been eager to grow. It makes sense, right. I’ve worked at some amazing brands. I’ve gained some truly great experiences, but I’ve wanted more than what was being offered to me. I was tired feeling subordinated, or just wanted to be in a position where I could call the shots without feeling as though I was stepping on other people’s toes. The only way to truly to do that ultimately, is to embrace being an entrepreneur – at least in my opinion.
Initially starting my own company happened by what I call an accident. I didn’t really want to do it at first, but I do strongly believe I was made to feel obligated to do so, for reasons I won’t get into here. However, ultimately it became of the best things I’ve ever done because there are resources to grow as business as long as you have a plan in place.
Part of growing your brand/business is to invest in yourself. Taking courses is definitely an important form of self-investment. But we live in the information age, it’s easy spend all day taking courses. Believe. I have friends who will spend their whole lives in university. I know people who will get 10 degrees under some delusional belief that it’s going to help them get jobs. What you really need, though is a career therapist. Someone who is already successful and who won’t tell you what to do, but perhaps suggest things and point you in the right direction.
I first sought the mentorship of a kind of famous lady in the USA. I’ve been a fan of hers for years. She’s a New York Times best-selling author, she’s had a slew of high profile relationships (with almost all your favourite rappers) and she’s controversial. But you know what, she knows about business. I signed up for her ‘mini’ mentorship which was basically just her giving me advice via email. And you know, after I poured out my frustrations in long-winded, she said ‘listen, you need to chill. This is how you do it’ her email was well thought-out, structured and she everything in place for me actually walk away and say ‘you know what, you’re right’. She is a person I will seek further mentorship from.
I have sought other mentors. Some I’ve paid, some are people I talk to and respect and a lot of the others come from watching YouTube videos. Spending hours – but very important hours – really re-programming my brain to think different.
So, what should you expect from a mentor:
1) Expect to pay – you’re asking someone to take time out of their busy day to give you advice. So yes, you should expect to pay for their time. Because time is money, and that hour or so that they spend with you, is time they could be out focusing on their business. If you are not willing to invest your business/career, then you’re ready to enter the next phase of you’re career.
2) Expect honesty – if the path you’re taking doesn’t make sense, then understand that the mentor/coach is going to say so. It may even be a bit harsh at time. As long as they’re not degrading you and making you feel belittled, then you need to be open to having that rapport.
3) Expect them to be thorough – they should be providing you with resources. Don’t expect their whole portfolio of contacts or anything, but they should be providing you with some resources to get yourself started. But of course, know and understand that you need to deliver for yourself, and you need to be ready to bring that to your meet up or call.
4) Expect them to not be money driven – you need to pay, yes, but if their focus is more about booking your next “paid” appointment, then you know this is not the right relationship for you. I believe that there are people who genuinely enjoy certain relationships and then you may very be part of the ‘others’ – you’re just a cheque. If you sense you’re just a cheque then you need to speak your piece and move on.
5) Expect to take it offline – you should take what you’ve learned with the intention of being a mentor yourself one day. Customise the method, make it your own and partner with a close group of people who are on the same wavelength as yourself because this will help you to perfect your stance as an authoritative figure.
Lastly, understand that even though you most likely have made an investment, the relationship between you and this mentor/coach may not work out. This is your journey, and just like any relationship, you may get it right the first time. Take your learnings, apply them and keep going until you’ve found some mentors that stick.