Today, we’re talking mentors, and how they can boost your biz. But first, a bit of background…
Freelancing tends to work in a cycle of sorts, a bit like a relationship. After the initial excitement of going freelance, there’s a period of thinking ‘Crap, have I done the right thing?’. Hopefully, you’ll realise you have, and jump into it, ready to commit.
Once you’re sure it’s right for you, you’re walking on air. It’s exciting! Your clients love what you do! You’re learning new things every day! You’re earning moola!
But like anything in life, you then enter into the part of your freelance career where you coast a little. Things are comfortable. But you need to spice things up a bit. Push yourself to earn more than just ‘comfortable’. I was at that stage, a month or so ago.
I’ve been coasting for a year or so, if I’m honest. That’s not to say I haven’t been enjoying it. But I’ve struggled with how to step it up. If I was in a job, I’d be aiming for a promotion at this point, but in freelancing that’s trickier – how do you get to that next level? A level where you’ll potential start a business hiring others? Turning to your peers is great, but they can only offer you so much advice.
So what’s a freelancer to do? It’s time to get a mentor.
I realised the importance of finding a mentor after chatting to friends like Samantha, and the Dexterous Diva Facebook community. So many people reported great things about chin wagging with one and how it helped them step up their business, that I made it my mission to find one. Thankfully, after a few tweets and Facebook shout outs, a friend referred me to a contact of hers who took on mentor work. For the price of a coffee, I could pick the brain of someone who knows how to launch a successful business.
So, how can a mentor help your business?
Ideally, your mentor will be a steps further up the ladder than you. My mentor runs a successful business herself, and has a similar work approach, so was able to offer me a HUGE amount of knowledge, from cash flow forecasting tips and what percentage I should be taking home, to spotting opportunities that I was too close (or lacking in confidence) to see. I came away from my first coffee session with a notebook packed full of ideas, and a business concept to work on.
The likelihood is that your mentor will have a bundle of contacts they can refer you to. Those contacts or referrals will be crucial in the development of any ideas you come up with.
I have a tendency to get really excited about a project, lose confidence that I can do it a few days later and throw it in the ‘good ideas that I’ll kick myself for not doing when someone else does it’ bin. A mentor is the perfect accountability partner to keep you on track. At the end of our session, my mentor set me three objectives to do for our next coffee meeting in a month’s time.