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Many people start out in business because they want to enjoy a financial reward by doing something they enjoy and doing it in their own time. Often they’ll start out doing something they love or something they have a passion for but sometimes it can be driven by opportunities they spot and want to take advantage of.
When you think about starting a business you do so full of hope and with an expectation of change. You could say that your small business start-up journey has already begun. As soon as you have the idea you start to clarify and justify your idea by reading, researching, asking questions of friends, family and work colleagues with a goal to understand if your idea will become a success. A scary part about starting a new business is wanting it to succeed so much that you are blinded by commercial realities of the market place — does the market want it? Another potential issue is are you charging enough for what you are doing to cover your costs?
The multitude of questions you have and the new world that appears to be opening up for you will begin a fantastic journey of discovery — both about your new idea, the market and most importantly of yourself. Many people who start a business for themselves and build it successfully talk about the amazing people they’ve met and the things they’ve learnt along the way. You’ll find you’ll change just because of the people you meet (many could be your customers) and the things you do along your journey and this highlights an part of your journey; your advisors.
Large companies have a board of directors as well as myriads of advisors who are experts in their fields. In your business journey you will make many decisions and those decisions will take your business (and you) down your own unique path and it’s important to make sure that your decisions are based on thorough research and understanding. The purpose of a mentor is to help you on your way forward by the experience they’ve gained from their past.
Your journey with a business mentor is to pursue your dream with passion and desire while ensuring you take the right paths based on knowledge of the product or services you offer and the market of companies or individuals who want your product or service.
The structure of a business plan helps you both work closely together to achieve your success and a good business mentor will find a tremendous reward in seeing you succeed. Remember that not everybody has the courage and desire to start something on their own and make it succeed.
A business plan is actually a simple document that you can update as often as you want. It can start out as just a couple pages with the basic information about your business and it’s potential customers and competitors and it will change as you learn more about every aspect of the business. The more momentum you get in your business and the larger you grow the larger your business plan will become. You’ll have more information and a clearer path on how to acquire customers for example and the more in-depth you get the more detail you can include — remember that written down plans help you maintain your momentum and purpose, they also help you share your information with other people who come along with you on your journey.
The one most certain thing you will encounter in your journey and that is problems. Some of these problems might start out as small niggly things others will land on your like a tonne of bricks and at the time it might seem like the end of your dream and the crushing of your passions. Problems don’t always come up to you and announce themselves either but could come in the form of a small issue that stops you from moving forward.
The ability to see other ways around a problem or find another way of doing something is a constant need for someone in business. It could be in the form of product development issues or in the form of financial management or it could be in how you combine your products and services in special offers that attract customers. Your business mentor has had the experience to support you with the gritty task of getting past these problems.
Your initial goal might be to start your own business and start earning some money for yourself but may end out being to have a 6 week holiday every year or to be able to work from anywhere or to buy the building you work from or buy a new home. It is very important to have your goals written down as part of your business plan because it is something that you can look at regularly and it helps remind you of why you are doing what you are doing.
Goals can change too but having a business mentor will ensure that your thinking is constantly focussed to ensuring your follow your plan to achieve your goals.
Your mentor is someone who you’ll meet with regularly — it could be on the phone, via Skype, or in person — and they will be available to you to help you through the thought process of making difficult decisions, different avenues to find information, different ways of looking at your current situation to make the right decisions moving forward. Just like the board of directors of a large company, your mentor is not someone who works in the business every day but someone who helps you make strategic decisions and set important goals and time frames.
Read more about the contents of the Small Business Management and StartUp Course.