I am a firm believer that no one knows everything about building and growing a business — at least I know I don’t! In fact, most business owners and entrepreneurs (like me) start businesses not because they know how to run a business, but because they are exceptional at what they do and seize an opportunity.
In my experience, learning about business and how to run one effectively comes along the way. A few years into my business, I received a great piece of advice: Know the path you want to take and surround yourself with people who are farther down the path. In other words:
- Find the people who have achieved what you want to achieve and learn from them.
- Find out what they did wrong and what they did right; what worked and what didn’t work; what they wish they had done differently.
- Find a mentor or mastermind group who can answer your questions and guide you in the right direction when you need it.
For design business and WordPress related insights and experts, we turn to WordCamps, and WordPress meetups, and well as design and development industry conferences where we can talk candidly with others in our industry and share our knowledge.
For pure business advice, I have a couple mentors who have built multi-million dollar businesses that I can ask about hiring, firing, legal issues, etc., and we have a brilliant CPA. I’ve also worked with a few coaches — some good some not so good. And, I’ve been in some mastermind groups — some good, some not so good.
Today I participate in a couple different paid, mastermind groups
These groups have private Facebook group forums where members can ask for advice, help, and feedback. The members of the groups range in level of business from brand new to long-time seasoned experts, and occasionally the lead coaches for the programs share their opinions, advice, and feedback.
While the members of these groups can rarely help me with anything code/design business related or answer questions pertaining to my industry, they are supremely valuable to me because they represent my clients and customers — a point of view and perspective I need to tap into to be successful in my marketing. Their perspective on what I do is invaluable. It is like peeking into my audience’s minds and having them tell me what they want and need, what resonated with them and what turned them off.
The key to working successfully with a coach, mentor, mastermind group, etc. is to know what you need help with, look for it in the right place, and use the help you get wisely. Here’s how I approach it:
Workshops and Retreats
I also participate in and co-lead workshops and events whenever I have the chance. I find intensives, focused workshops, and retreats invaluable for taking a step back, getting fresh perspectives, and working ON your business and not just IN your business.
The image above is from the Accelerate Success Retreat lead by myself, Joy Chudacoff, and Today’s Innovative Woman publisher and retreat host Cathy Alessandra. We spent two days with an amazing group of business women and entrepreneurs working on their business and creating a plan of action for the next 90 days.
- Get crystal clear on what problem or challenge you have. Do you need help with creating your package and pricing? Are you trying to find a new employee? Do you have a client problem? Are you trying to write a sales page? Do you need more sales?
- Identify the most qualified people you know or places to go for help. Do you know someone who had the same challenge and got past it? Do you know someone who could help? Is there an expert you could hire? Is there an event you could attend to get help or meet people who could help?
- Ask for help. Don’t just struggle alone. If you’re having this challenge, chance are others have had it too — and in most cases, they are happy to share their story and help. If you need to, don’t be afraid to pay for help and guidance from a coach or consultant, especially if they can accelerate your journey.
- Assess the advice you get. Not all the advice you get is going to be good advice or appropriate advice, especially in mastermind style groups with varying levels of business owners. So don’t just blindly do whatever they say. Look at who is giving the advice, where they are at in their business, what perspective they may have, etc. For example, if you’re struggling with how to price a new high-end service package, the pricing advice from a new business owner who isn’t making any money, can’t get anyone to hire them, and won’t invest in their own business probably isn’t going to be the best person to help with this specific problem.
- Take action. Once you get the help you need, create a plan of action and do it. The worst thing that could happen is that it doesn’t work and you have to try something else. But the best case scenario is that you take action, it works, and you solve your problem and achieve your goals.
What about you?
Where do you go for help with your business? How do you assess whether the advice is a good fit for you or not?