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How a Mentor Can Help You With Growing Your Business

Research in both educational settings and in the world of business indicates that students, employees, and CEOs are more likely to succeed if they had a mentor. Fortune 500 CEOs were asked what contributed most to their success. Many listed an effective mentor as one of the key factors. As a result, more and more entrepreneurs and business owners are following the lead of their corporate counterparts by engaging the services of professional business mentors.

Mentoring is most often defined as a professional relationship in which a more experienced person, referred to as the mentor, assists another person less experienced, referred to as the mentee, in developing specific skills and knowledge that will enhance the less experienced person’s professional and personal growth. Successful mentoring programs do not just happen; they are the result of careful planning and implementation.

Working with your own mentor can have a tremendous positive impact on your business. Whether you are an established company or just starting up, your mentor can teach you how to increase your confidence, develop vital business skills, and implement effective strategies to transition your business to the next level.

Even if you consider yourself to be an expert in your field, a recognizable knowledge or experience gap may still exist or be present. You may have a great idea for a new business, but you feel like you need to verify the feasibility of your new venture or to confirm the strategies that you are considering using. Seeking the guidance of an experienced mentor who has had similar experiences is the best way to get your question answered with valuable professional advice.

What does a professional business mentor do?

Your mentor serves as a trusted counselor, a guide, a source of information, a provider of perspective, and the voice of experience in addition to performing a number of different functions:

• Teaching you about specific business practices and functions.

• Coaching you on specific business skills.

• Facilitating your growth by providing resources and contacts.

• Challenging you to move beyond your comfort zone.

• Creating a safe learning environment for expanding your horizons.

• Focusing on your total development, both professional and personal.

What benefits will you realize from working with a professional business mentor?

• You will gain from your mentor’s expertise.

• You will receive critical feedback in key skill and knowledge areas.

• You will develop a sharper focus on what steps are needed to develop professionally.

• You will learn specific skills and knowledge that are relevant to your personal goals.

• You will gain knowledge about business tactics that are critical for success.

• You will adapt more quickly to changes in the marketplace.

• You will have a ‘friendly ear’ to share your frustrations, as well as, successes.

Professional business mentors are a valuable asset to any business organization.

When you struggle all alone in your business, it can lead to costly and demoralizing mistakes. Having an experienced mentor spares you the trouble of having to crack the business success code on your own. A seasoned, professional mentor is the perfect person to offer help and advice, especially if you are just starting out or facing difficult challenges. An experienced mentor has been there and done that! He/she knows what works and what doesn’t work.

By tapping into the wealth of knowledge and experience of a mentor, you can fast-track your business success by minimizing the mistakes most entrepreneurs make… Why try to re-invent the proverbial wheel, when you can engage the services of a seasoned, professional mentor to help you navigate the minefields associated with growing your business.

Don’t be trapped into thinking you don’t need a business mentor simply because you think know your business. Just like sports, running a business is highly competitive. So, if top athletes employ coaches/mentors, then it makes perfect sense to follow in the footsteps of these top athletes and employ your very own mentor!

Just like a good sports coach, the right professional business mentor will not play the game for you. They will simply assist you in determining the most effectively strategies in order to maximize your rewards and minimize your risks!

How to find a professional business mentor

Choosing a mentor is a serious decision. It is important that you select a business mentor who is competent, experienced, and has both integrity and expertise—an individual that you can trust in this newly formed fiduciary relationship.

There are a couple of avenues you can use to find a good professional business mentor… First, you can reach out to your local sphere of contacts. Talk to your existing advisors — your CPA, your attorney, your banker, and your insurance agent. Second, you can use the Internet. Fortunately, with the Internet you are not just limited to your local geographic area when seeking a business mentor. Many professional mentors provide their mentoring services via the telephone or Skype. This is often more convenient and more flexible than having to personally meet with a business mentor.

When evaluating your business mentor candidates it’s important to consider

· Confidentiality: Sensitivity to the importance of confidentiality is critical. Since a business mentor will be privy to highly confidential information about you and your business, it is very important for you to discuss bonds of confidentiality with him. A signed confidentiality agreement is recommended.

· Non-compete: Make sure that the business mentor candidate is willing to sign a non-compete agreement and to refrain them from advising/mentoring any of your direct competitors, not only during the course of the engagement, but also for a certain period of time thereafter.

· Chemistry: It’s not just for romantic relationships! There has to be certain chemistry with your business mentor. This is someone you are going to work closely to grow your business. You have to feel a connection and a sense of trust with this person. To gauge your level of comfort with your prospective business mentor, arrange to have a couple of pre-engagement discussions with him/her.

· Learning: Some experts believe that what you will learn from a particular mentor is far more important than the chemistry you have with that particular mentor. The critical question you must answer is, “exactly what I’m I going to learn from this particular business mentor that I can apply to overcoming my current issues and challenges.”

· Confidence: Make sure that you have the level of confidence that you need in order to move forward, and that the person-the business mentor — is as passionate about their business as you are about your business.

Should Business Startups Be Afraid of the Dark? Part (2)

Fledgling Business? It is vital, to [email protected]@K for what you Cannot See!

Reading this won’t teach you to see the invisible. That, by definition, is impossible. What you will learn, is a greater awareness of some of the things that might harm a fledgling business.

When seeking a tantalizing business location, no doubt you will consider localities that are thriving. New York’s Greenwich Village perhaps. Madrid’s Puerta del Sol or ChinaTown in London’s West End.

This article draws to your attention two points. By the way, the aim is to raise your awareness, not to scare you.

  1. Not all businesses compete on a level paying field. Look for the uneven.
  2. What happens when Rights to Protest, infringe on the Right to do Business.

You may find, it isn’t a Level Playing Field

A startup Taxi business may appear appealing from the outside. Or a business that manages driving instructors. These are typically awarded local government contracts, to monitor parking offences. This type of business would manage a fleet of traffic wardens. But can an entrepreneur make a reasoned assessment on whether to enter these sectors. Is it a level playing field?

If you don’t take time to understand the demographics, you may find that your new business simply cannot compete. Your labor costs may be sky high. A taxi firm, may tap into sources of petrol and diesel that you may consider is borderline legal.

All this can spell curtains for new business entrants. A taxi business will need to pay sky high license costs, every increasing road taxes.

Vehicle depreciation can add insult to injury. All the while, the cost of insurance services is on a way one street to the clouds. To make money, you may have to walk a fine line. If you are not prepared to do this, or cannot access some of the less obvious services, your enterprise may quickly go to the wall.

The Right to Protest can Infringe on Your Right to Do Business

Since 2008, when many banks and financial institutions had to be bailed out, the right to protest, has faced up to the rights citizens and businesses have, to peacefully go about their lives. And to go about their business.

Running battles with the police in Madrid (Spain), in Athens (Greece), and in many western countries, means that businesses, already hit by the economic slow down and austerity handed down by governments, take a double hit as customers stay away from streets that resemble a war zone.

Small businesses like restaurants and shops, depend on a street, busy with shoppers, not busy with the police. These sole traders and retail outlets, depend on a street not busy with rioters. Many business owners were left aghast, during the August 2011 England Riots, because an enterprise depends on a street, not busy with looters.

All this disharmony and discord is delivering pain long before you count one of the largest socio political events of our time. The Arab Spring. The drop in tourism to some parts of the world has destroyed the standard of living, which was already in a precarious and fragile state.

Why help out the Small Business Owner?

Why should anyone care? Why should we lift a finger to put money into the hands of business owners? Small businesses, including startups, are the engine room of any economy. Their success brings aspiration to the communities that have been flowerbeds to these enterprises.

It is important though that governments, local and national, as well as the institutions that are in place to nurture and support fledgling small businesses, get to work on the types of problems highlighted in this article.

Being afraid of the Dark is a misconception!

When we ask each other “Are you afraid of the dark”, the reality is that none of us fear “darkness” per se.

We fear what lurks in the undergrowth. We fear the things that pose a grave threat to our prosperity. In summary, we fear that, which we cannot see!

Five Things to Think About Before Starting a Photography Business

If you’re reading this article, odds are someone has told you that you take really great pictures and you should start up your own business. It’s exciting to think about turning your passion into your full time job, but before you jump head first into this endeavor here are a few things you should think about.

1. Picture yourself as a business owner

It’s thrilling to think about being a photographer, but have you thought about being a business owner. What most people don’t know is that only about 10%-20% of your time is actually spent taking photographs. That other 80% or more is spent actually working on your business. Whether it’s dealing with paperwork, doing the accounting, creating marketing pieces, dealing with disgruntled customers, or updating your website, these are not the tasks most aspiring photographers dream of doing, but they are a crucial part of staying in business.

If you haven’t thought about this yet, take a few minutes to do so. Would you be happy keeping track of your sales and taxes? Would you have fun working on marketing pieces for your business? How much would you enjoy dealing with customer queries – even unpleasant ones? All of these things are part of owning a business and part of a photographer’s everyday job.

2. Think about what kind of photography business you want to have

If you are contemplating starting a photography business, I’m sure you love taking pictures, but have you thought about what you really love taking pictures of? There are so many different specialties you can focus on in this world. There’s wedding photography, senior photography, newborn photography, family photography, sports photography, and a slew of other focuses as well.

It is often encouraged that you select a specialty or one area that you focus on. The benefit of doing this is that it makes it far easier for you to find your target market to advertise and promote yourself. But determining what your favorite thing to shoot is can be difficult. So take some time to think about what you really enjoy documenting.

3. Think about time and money

This is another side to the business that is easy to not even think about. Take some time to write down all the business expenses you think you’ll have starting out. This would include things like: camera equipment, website domain, website hosting, website design, logo design, filing with the state, sample products, software… As you can see this list can become quite extensive and the numbers can add up very quickly. But it’s much better to go into starting a business having an idea in mind of what it’s going to cost you.

Equally important is considering how much time you will spend working in and on your new business. Starting a business can be incredibly time consuming. If you already have a full time job and plan to start your photography business on the side. It’s good to set boundaries for how much time you will spend working. It’s far too easy to get caught up in this exciting new adventure and let time with your family and loved ones fall by the wayside. So be sure you are ready to invest more hours than you expect into this business.

4. Talk to other business owners about their lives

If you want to gain a real perspective on what owning a business is like talk to a small business owner in your area. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a photographer, though their insights would be most relevant, any business owner can give you a perspective on what it’s like. Take them out to lunch and pick their brains. Ask them what their average day is like as a business owner. What their favorite and least favorite things about owning a business are. What they would do differently if they could start all over again. All of their thoughts and opinions can help give you a better idea of whether or not this is the right choice for you.

5. Come up with a Business Plan

You’ve thought about it all, the time and money you’ll have to invest, the struggles you may encounter and the type of photography you’d like to shoot and you are ready to start moving forward with your new business. The last step of thinking about it and the first steps towards building your company are to create a business plan. It is the one step that is so often overlooked but the one that makes the biggest difference in developing and growing your business.

A business plan is basically a formal statement of business goals, the reasons they are believed attainable, and the plan for reaching those goals. It often also contains background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals. For example, my business plan is “Green Tree Media Photography helps our preserve memories and captures the soul and essence of our families, seniors, newborns, and couples. We thrive on repeat business by developing relationships with our clients and providing exceptional care and unique and beautiful art pieces for their walls and home, while maintaining a strong and healthy relationship with our family and loved ones.”

As you can see – I’ve outlined what I like to photograph, the type of service I plan to provide, how I plan to do it and because my husband and family are important to me I’ve included them in my business plan as well. This serves as a constant reminder to me of where I’m heading, what I need to do and what’s most important. Your business plan, of course, evolves with your business, but it can be incredibly beneficial to head into the game with a business plan in mind.

So there you have it. Five Steps for Starting your photography business. Now you may have noticed that the first four steps were more about thinking and preparing than actually taking action, and there is a reason for that. It is so easy to jump into business too quickly and to let your excitement get ahead of you. At this point in time, many photography businesses are failing in the first 2 year of business. So to avoid adding yourself to that statistic, take the time to think through all the facets of owning a business so you can make the best and right choice for you and your family.