3 Valuable Lessons from Being an Entrepreneur Mentor

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Find entrepreneur or solopreneur support and inspiration to lock in your business foundation and values.

You may know me as a Design Doctor or creative director, but I’ve been nurturing an addition to my title and it’s something I’ve been passionate about for a long time: entrepreneur mentorship.

It started last spring through Rhode Island’s RIHub Venture Mentoring Service.

Through this special community, I get the chance to work with a select number of small business owners, guiding them and sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned through my journey as a solopreneur. The process of offering my insight to like-minded peers put a spotlight on a business value of mine I now see had been in the dark. And it helped me realize that I want to spend more time mentoring.

In the spirit of this milestone, I’m sharing three of the most valuable lessons I have learned so far as an entrepreneur mentor.

Whether you’re a small business owner, on the hunt for a business mentor, or simply looking for a starting point to launch your creative idea, I’ve outlined these learned lessons with you in mind.

Let’s get cooking!

Cake baking ingredients

  1. Know your business recipe.

    Before you get too far into developing a business, it’s important to nail down your business plan.

    This will help you A) understand and ‘own’ your services and B) be able to confidently articulate them as the best solution to your customer’s problems.

    To illustrate this point, let’s think about baking a beautiful cake. You know a cake needs butter, sugar, flour, and a few other ingredients. If you were to blindly throw all of these ingredients into a bowl, whisk them together, and place them in the oven, what will come out may look like a cake, yes. But it may not taste like a cake or hold together on the inside.

    The elements of your business plan are a lot like knowing the right amount of each ingredient and the right steps to take in creating your vision.

    Are you intimidated or maybe overwhelmed by the thought of mapping out your business plan? I’ve been there. Trust me. This process will save you both time and money in the long run if you diligently and carefully develop it.

    A business plan contains the answers that will keep your business decisions grounded, effective, and, most importantly, in line with the audience you are aiming to serve.

    Tip:Need a template to get you started? Grab one of the Business Plan Templates at SBA.gov.

  2. Don’t cook what you can’t eat.

    I’ve seen what happens when an entrepreneur or solopreneur thinks they need to implement every kind of marketing tool just because it’s trending.

    What happens is burnout, ineffective reach, and financial exhaustion. It’s great to have grand business dreams, but you need to pair them with realistic goals and scale your budget accordingly, especially within your first year of operating. Let’s go back to our cake illustration to put this into perspective.

    You’ve set out to bake a gorgeous, mouth-watering cake, but you start second-guessing if your cake is good enough to stand on its own. You start assuming people may want cupcakes and doughnuts because that’s what other businesses are selling. You spend extra time and money baking these extra items and, as it turns out, your customers love your cake, but don’t understand why you’re selling the cupcakes or doughnuts.

    You’ve wasted precious time and resources trying to be too much to people who aren’t your most important customers (the cake lovers).

    This is where the combination of creating your business plan and trusting in it comes into play. Investing your money and energy into what is essentially a great experiment is always risky.

    Here are 3 key guidelines:

    • It’s important to remember that you don’t need to attract everyone.
    • Lead with what you know and scale your strategy by prioritizing what is absolutely essential for your success.
    • As a good friend of mine says, “Don’t buy into the hype and hustle cycle that leads to failure, self-blame, and shame.” Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s the right solution for your business. Shiny object syndrome is real, people.

    Over time, you’ll get comfortable with refining your plan as you learn more about your audience’s needs and the true value of your offer.

  3. Serve yourself a slice of sweet support.

    If there’s anything I want you to take away from this, it’s that support is essential.

    Being an entrepreneur or solopreneur comes with many, many decisions, but they don’t have to be made alone. I know most successful entrepreneurs, myself included, couldn’t have done it without help.

    I personally know the hesitation that comes with allowing someone else into the inner sanctum of your business.

    The decision to trust a coach, mentor, or consultant should be made carefully. Whether you’re just starting to develop your business or are a little further along and need some support to complement your strategy, having a partner who can guide you along the right path is invaluable.

    In fact, the most basic lesson I’ve learned through being an entrepreneur mentor is that it takes a healthy dose of confidence and worthiness to ask for support!

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Slice of cake with streamers and sprinkles

Let’s take the cake!

My fellow entrepreneur, you have so much to offer the world. I’m here to support your business, not only through my branding and design expertise but by sharing these mental and emotional insights I’ve gained as a fellow small business owner.

If you live in Rhode Island, and if you’re starting to build your business and need mentor support, head over to RIHub Venture Mentoring Service to apply.

If you’re not in Little Rhody, visit Score.org to find a list of professional business mentors near you. Or book a Power Hour to get clarity STAT.

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Key takeaways

  1. Creating a business plan will help you establish your foundation and make the right decisions for your specific business.
  2. Don’t get caught up in the latest trends and over-extend your business resources.
  3. Support yourself, your business, and your sanity by getting guidance from professionals.
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