When you enter into business – or a particular industry – it’s always nice to lean on the support of someone that’s been there before. As I see it, there are three different ways you can go about things. You can:
- Enter into an active community
- Find a mentor
- Figure it out yourself
I would assume that the first is the most common, and the last is what everyone claims they do, but many that went for the middle option would say that they couldn’t have got to where they are without one. But which is the most sensible way to grow a successful business?
Conferences, networking groups, online forums, Facebook groups and all of those things fall into this category. There must be a community for everything these days, and you’re crazy if you think that you won’t learn from the experiences of others.
What’s great about communities is that you’re going to have people with all kinds of experience levels, success levels and knowledge. Hearing what others have to say, and what advice they’re willing to share, is only going to strengthen your understanding. I find it’s a great way to get answers to the questions you’re scared to ask (for fear of looking silly).
In communities you see the successes and failures unfold in front of your eyes, and you can learn so much as a spectator.
The fact that I even have a blog sharing what I’ve learned about online businesses is proof enough that I believe in community learning. There’s so much you can learn from others, and so long as you don’t give away too much about your business, there’s no reason why it should have any negative impact.
It took me ages to accept that other people stick to the Chatham House Rule. When I was more heavily involved in digital marketing, I wouldn’t give a single thing away to potential competitors (especially since most worked at agencies, and could become competitors). I found that the more I did share, the more others were willing to do the same. It benefits everyone.
Business mentors tend to be those that have created successful businesses and would like to share their knowledge of getting started/management/scaling to someone that needs direction.
More often than not mentors charge for this service (The only time they wouldn’t is if you’re in an educational setting, or if it’s family or a friends). For people that are new to business, it’s going to be quite daunting to have to pay for the ability to get their questions answered. However, you’re going to be able to draw much more specific and helpful information from someone
Although I haven’t actively advertised it, a number of people have approached me for Amazon FBA mentorship, and I’ve realised just how much more information I can share with people in a one-on-one setting than I otherwise would in any forums, or even on my blog. Once they share where they are in their journey, I can tell them exactly what steps they need to do next to take things to the next level.
Good mentors will not only tell you what you should do, but also what you should avoid to get to wherever you need to be. It’s a very personal thing, and it’s a completely different setting to the public community ones. These mentors don’t even have to have direct experience in whatever industry you’re involved in, successful business people may be able to see holes and gaps in markets that you introduce them to. Hand them a business plan and see how they pick it apart.
I can’t say that I’ve ever paid for a mentor, but it’s definitely something I intend to do in the future. I know the limitations of the businesses I’m currently involved in and I feel like mentors are really most helpful for people in the more advanced stages of businesses, just as much as when you’re new to it.
The solo route is most likely going to come in the form of you stumbling into an industry, finding some resources on how to do it and just cracking on with it from there. You may have found a good YouTube channel about it, a helpful course or just a decent blog. Based on this, you’re going in and you’ll see where it goes.
After hearing about the other two, you can see why I wouldn’t advise that people go about things alone. There’s something very comforting about seeing that other people are in the same position as you, and have to ask the same questions as you to get to make things work.
I’ve found that I only really enjoy communities to a point. Once I know what I’m doing and I can prove that it’s really working, I don’t want to be faced with other people sharing successes and failures, because I lose focus with what I’m doing. However, that inspiration and support from the community was the catalyst to get started in the first place.
Do what fits your learning methods and personality best. Ultimately, you’re in this on your own in the end, so you may as well lean on other for support when it’s there.
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