Owning and growing a small business is tough work. Many first-time small business owners mistakenly think they will hang up their “Open for Business” sign, and the customers will start rolling in. I know because I’ve been there – twice. Growing your business is a constant grind, especially in the beginning.
Depending on your level of business experience, there will come a time when you realize your knowledge is limited. Sometimes that time will come
Mentors come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and each serves a different function whengrowing your business.
The least expensive option to learn what you need to know is self-help books. Pick your topic and you can undoubtedly find a book to cover that subject. According to Inc. magazine, these books will help you make major changes to your business. Whether you need motivation and inspiration, or ideas from experts, these timeless classics are a must for every entrepreneur. With today’s technology, even if you don’t enjoy reading, you can always listen to books ontape while you are driving or exercising.
Business Classes or Workshops
When I first started learning how to grow and manage my own business, I absorbed every free teleclass, webinar, or workshop I could find. Although most of these free options are designed to upsell you to a paid program, there is still valuable information to gain from the free option. Once you find an expert you feel aligned with, you can invest in a paid class or workshop. To get you started, check out Udemy – an online learning platform aimed at professional adults.
Although not cheap, business coaches are instrumental in helping you grow your business. As a matter of fact, most successful business owners have a business coach to lean on. A business coach will help you define goals, overcome obstacles, and keep you on track. He or she will be your best cheerleader, will pick you up when you are down, and kick you in the butt when you need it most. Attend a few networking events or your local chamber of commerce meetings, and you will most likely find a few business coaches. Ask around to other small business owners to see who they might know. Finding the “right” business coach will be one of the best decisions you can make for you and your business.
Unlike business coaches, you can hire a business consultant for his or her expertise in a particular subject matter. A consultant brings a wealth of knowledge, and he can guide you with specific steps you need to take to grow your business. Because a consultant has worked in your industry for a long time, they have contacts you don’t know. A consultant has been there and done that, so he can save you time and money by helping you avoid all the mistakes he made. One of my clients has recently connected to a consultant in the construction industry. The experience he brings will help her make a giant leap to the next level. If you decide to hire a consultant, find one that specializes in your industry and thoroughly check his or her references.
In Napoleon Hill’s book “Think and Grow Rich,” he introduced the mastermind principle as: “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.” Two minds are always greater than one, and a group of 6-8 is even better. Sometimes small business owners are blinded by their thinking. Problems seem insurmountable and solutions appear impossible. But with a business mastermind group, you will have fresh eyes, listening ears, and different perspectives. Through the collective creative mind, you will not only receive a host of ideas, but a community that will support your growth and goals. Can’t find a mastermind group in your area? Start your own.
Occasionally, in this busy world of ours, you will find a true mentor that is willing to freely give you her time just because she is kind and wanting to help. A mentor will hold your hand and be the leader and example you can copy. Who in your industry do you totally admire? Are there any small business owners you know that are creating and experiencing the success you desire? Don’t be afraid to reach out, even if it’s for one coffee date. One hour of a mentor’s time could be what you need to brainstorm solutions and gain momentum. The inspiration you feel from someone you look up to may be exactly the motivation you need to re-energize. Mentors, in whatever form they take, are a necessity for growing your business. No small business owner has all the answers. Flying solo and refusing to learn from others is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Think about the type of mentor that would work best for you and commit to collaborating with someone. It will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.
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