Building a business can be a great way to express yourself and find fulfillment while providing for yourself and your family. And if you have a family, it’s probably one of the main reasons you do what you do, right?
Most entrepreneurs and small business owners I know are driven by a strong mix of desire and fear. We crave accomplishment, recognition, and money, but we also fear failure, embarrassment, and loss. How do you find enough time to feed the desire and stifle the fear? And how do you do that without sacrificing your family? At times it feels impossible.
So many entrepreneurs I know sacrifice their families in the “short run” to make it big for them in the “long run,” only to discover too late that the “short run” lasted through all the moments that matter—their kids’ birthday parties, soccer practices, and French horn recitals.
You can’t get those moments back and the loss is unspeakable. I know because I made those sacrifices. I look back at pictures of some of my kids’ birthday parties and I don’t remember them, even when I was there. I look at pictures of my kids’ sweet faces and wonder why I can’t remember them at that age. That sense of loss makes me want to vomit. Literally.
That’s why I help startup and small business owners find better ways to do things, so they will succeed in all the ways that really matter.
The Good News
The good news is that none of this sacrifice, none of this loss needs to happen to you. And the great news is there is a powerful tool to help you grow your business while being there for your family and yourself.
The Powerful Tool
The powerful tool is mentoring. Whether you have me for a mentor or someone else, you must find a mentor who has been where you are and has learned the lessons you need to learn. Let their experiences, good and bad, guide you. They paid a high price for those lessons so you don’t have to. Without a mentor, you’re likely to rush headlong into the abyss, blind to the life right in front of you.
How to Find a Mentor
Step 1 — Identify someone who has been where you are and has gone where you want to go. Personal contacts, newspaper articles, networking meetings, trade shows. I cannot stress how important it is to find someone who has been down the path you’re wanting to travel. It’s true you can learn from everyone, but you will benefit most from someone who has done what you are trying to do.
Step 2 – Create a specific plan to get to know your potential mentor to see if you would be a good fit, then try to be of service to them in some way. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust, so you should find ways for your potential mentor to know you, like you and trust you. And if you are honest and not manipulative, your genuineness will resonate with those you are meant to know. If you attempt to be manipulative, smart people will see you for the Eddie Haskell you are.
Step 3 – Ask. At first, ask for a small thing. A little of their time, a little insight. Something small relative to the value you bring to the relationship. If the small things go well and the relationship grows, take the next step. Think of finding a mentor like finding a mate. Start off small. A text, a smile, a date. You don’t walk up to a stranger and ask them to marry you (unless you do, in which case forget all of this and seek professional help). Let the relationship build, intentionally but organically, until it becomes what it is meant to be.
Bonus Tip: be creative when it comes to being of service to/bringing value to your potential mentors. Social media is a great first step, but retweeting them will only get you so far. Make a real difference for them, and they are much more likely to make a real difference for you.
If you’re not sure what to look for in a mentor, get in touch with me and we can talk about it. For many of you, I’ve been where you are, and I can help you get where you are going without the pain and unnecessary heartache. And if I can’t, someone else can. Do not try to do this alone.