I have mentored would-be entrepreneurs for my entire career. One of the earliest was my brother who had just lost his job. I helped him start his first website only a few months after I started mine. He still has that website today and earns a great living with it. I have had the opportunity to mentor many others since then that have gone on to be very successful in their respective businesses.
One thing that I know about mentoring is that it is hard to teach the how of business.
There are ditches on both side of the road. On one side, you have the pie-in-the-sky ditch. That ditch is full of self-help gurus, MBAs with no real world experience, and consultants who failed in their own business but have ideas to help you succeed with your business. There is value in that ditch but when you climb out, don’t be surprised if you find yourself asking this question: now what am I supposed to actually do?
On the other side, you have the business system ditch. That ditch is full of business experts with ultra-specific strategies and detailed plans that tell you what to eat for breakfast and dinner and what to do in between. When would-be entrepreneurs see those systems, they get excited.
Then they find out that the system does not work. The more specific a system is, the more likely it will break. This is true for a simple reason: no two businesses are exactly alike and no two business owners are exactly alike. What works for me will not work exactly the same way for you.
The trick in the how is to teach very good information but in as general a way as possible so it can be applied as widely as possible. Here is another way to think about it: teaching the how correctly is is not about holding the student’s hand; it is rather about teaching them how to come up with solutions on their own.
There are no shortcuts in learning the how correctly and if you participate in the process, you can expect to struggle some and make mistakes. That is as common to entrepreneurship as breathing. It is nothing to worry about. Just keep getting up and getting back in the fight. I will teach you how to limit your risks when you try new things, and how to maximize your profits when the business is going well.
Here is a partial list of how things I want to teach you:
- Structuring a business (legally)
- Tax strategies
- Choosing products and services to sell
- Sourcing products
- Website design and development
- Employment/contractor issues
- Customer service
- System integration
- Time saving hacks