Aside from the occasional craft show or visit to a local stockist, makers largely do their work alone (except maybe a cat walking across your desk or a child tugging at at you). It can be hard to get peer camaraderie and advice from other makers who are more advanced in their career path.
Mentors can be an invaluable to a young and growing business, or to a business looking to make some "next step" leaps. But often they can be hard to find and even fleeting.
We've talked with thousands of makers about their businesses and have ran a successful mentorship program (we call it Friendtorship!), so we know the pitfalls that people encounter when looking for a mentor. Here are few and how to overcome that.
#1: You're Not a Typical Business
If you've ever been to a local small business meetup or even sought business advice online-- you quickly realize you don't look like a lot of other businesses. Your needs are different and the advice of even those who are fellow small business owners can seem to not quite fit into your business.
Because makers are responsible for their own production AND selling, the course they chart in business is pretty unique. The solution? For general business issues a mentor like one you might find at SCORE can be useful, but for a deeper dive into your business, find someone who you can really pattern your business after.
#2: It's Hard to Find Someone (and Ask Them)
Let's face, it's pretty vulnerable to go up to someone and ask them to dedicate time to helping you along in your business. That is, if you've even found someone who has the time, is in a similar field and has the interest. You don't want to impose and you're not sure if the fit will be exact.
It's hard to say how to fix this, other than sometimes you will either have to wait awhile until the right person comes along OR you can jump into a program like ours where you don't have to worry about finding someone (we've already scoured Makerland for some pretty fabulous choices).
#3: What to Say, Do and When to Meet Can Get Awkward
How will it look to meet? People have busy schedules. What will we talk about each week? Everyone wants to make the best use of their time and feel like progress is being made.
Unstructured mentorship can be really hard to keep up (it's happened to me personally!). That's why our mentorship program has a curriculum to guide the mentors and mentees along the way (as a jumping off point at the very least). There are resources and other support along the way too. If you don't join our program, consider looking for resources online to help guide you to help make progress.
#4: There's No End in Sight
This one is probably the most awkward. When ARE you done mentoring someone? The worst is being stuck with someone in a way too committed relationship OR (reverse) one person just drifts away and doesn't respond to keep meeting. That's because the lack of a structure and plan can really create some ambiguity. Plus, if you are the one asking someone to mentor you, you don't often feel comfortable demanding a timeline.
But you should. You start with an agreement for a set period of time-- that way if it's not working for one or the other you know there's an end. We have built in an end with the our program, but we do encourage people to keep in contact if it makes sense. After the program there is our private community to continue and enhance that support (a great place to find an accountability partner after being mentored).
What about you? Have you ever been mentored or mentored someone else? Have you tried to find a mentor but it was a bust? Let us know in the comments.
"I'm soooo glad that I met my mentor and finally started speaking 'business' with someone who understands. I loved the great insight she had and the module questions were great prompts for some insightful conversations." -Kendra, mentee
"I loved receiving advice from my mentor. She was coming from a standpoint of experience with her own business and got me to think about things to help my business I wouldn't have otherwise thought about." -Kimberly, mentee
These are actual responses from our mentorship program and we want you have this kind of experience too! Sign up below for more details.