I am often asked for one piece of business advice. One morsel. One little "ah ha" for someone who is starting out in their new business or looking to grow their business.
For me? That is an easy word of wisdom to impart.
Are you ready?
Find a mentor.
Not a friend. Not a sibling. Not someone you think wants to see you succeed.
This will cost you. It's an investment. And it's worth it.
First, you need to decide how you want to grow? Do you want to grow in your craft? Your profession? Are you looking to looking to become better at what you do?
Do you want help growing your business? Someone to direct you in what you should do. Steps to take.
What you are looking for will change over the course of the life of your business. There will be different seasons.
When I started doing jewelry design I had already owned my own business for 7+ years. I had been doing graphic design. I knew how to handle the business side. I knew how to invoice, how to price, how to sell. I needed to get more skills. I didn't want to just "wing it". I wanted to better myself. Grow my confidence.
My first goldsmith mentor helped me do just that. She taught me the basics. She invested time in me. She and I worked well together. As an accomplished gold smith she was so very patient with my fumbling hands! First I paid to take her classes. Then I traded her for some graphic design help and photography help that she needed. It was an investment.
Investing in your business. Actually laying the money down. Says something. It says you are taking this seriously. It speaks volumes of your commitment to your future. That doesn't mean it's easy. Hardly. Every time money comes up…I get a pit in my stomach. It seems like you are throwing money into an intangible. But it SHOULD be scary.
Needless to say, my skills grew. My business was growing. But what was next? That's when I hired a business coach. I researched her. She interviewed me. This needs to be a match. There are a million coaches out there. Some are awesome. Some are not. Take time to get references. Take time to ask questions.
Christine Kane was perfect for what I needed in this phase of my business. She helped me get serious. She "made me" nail down my future plans. She pushed me. She guided me to find my path, embrace it and own it. It was expensive. But worth every penny. My business grew.
After Christine, I sought out different seminars. Seminars specifically geared toward creative businesses. Courses on social media. I had a one-on-one with April from Blacksburg Belle. I read everything Mayi at Heartmade had to offer. People who really understood the creative side of what I was doing.
Then it was time again. I felt the tug. I knew I needed to get a new coach. I knew it was going to cost. But again...growing costs. It will never feel completely right. I think it's about knowing what you want to do. Need to do. Then leaping a little bit. Ok a LOT a bit!
My next coach had been involved with selling a product. Something she had made. She had been on the high of highs, and the low of lows. She was intimate with what I was trying to do. So I laid the money down on Sarah Shaw Consulting and once again…my business changed.
Sarah took the time to really understand me, then really push me. Sometimes she just ticked me off! :) But not only is she a stellar business women…she is a genuine, kind hearted soul. Again…my time spent with her was worth every penny.
Right before we moved to Indiana I began to feel a new pull. A new tug. I had the business tools. I knew what to do. But now I wanted to grow professionally. Now I wanted to be better at WHAT I do. I want to make high end jewelry that you are proud to wear. I don't want to just SELL a product. I wanted to challenge myself. Increase my skills. Grow my confidence. Develop my creative process.
I found Michael David Sturlin. Or maybe he found me. Or maybe my daughter found him and then he found me. It's a long story!
Michael is an amazingly talented…accomplished gold smith…gifted author…passionate teacher. His creativity. His skills. His dedication to see others embrace their abilities and then grow…well, it's unsurpassed. I am so honored to be able to study with him.
Michael has challenged me to think outside MY box. He has encouraged me to see the gold smith that lives within me. He has given me confidence in my talent. I have grown.
Again, it's about finding the right person. Michael's personality works with mine. Maybe he just puts up with me! I just returned from a 5 day retreat at his studio in Arizona. An investment. It cost me. It was worth it.
These mentors. These coaches. They have helped me find my path, then take it. Not recklessly. But with determination. With confidence. With direction. I may have wasted many years in limbo land if I had not taken a leap. Made that investment.
Find yourself a mentor. Do the research. Ask questions. I'm not recommending you sign up with anyone I mentioned above. They were perfect for me. You need to know what you want, how you need to grow…then find that person that is perfect for YOU!
You can do this. You are worth it. The world wants what you have to offer. You just need to learn how to do it the best that you can…then get it out there!
I'll be your biggest cheerleader!