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What do I, a newbie business owner and these fictional heroes have in common?
OK, so obviously I’m not fighting the dark side or trying to save the country from a dystopian future, but I can definitely see the parallels between your average entrepreneur and Skywalker et al. Like them I’m on personal quest fraught with trials, tests and failures, like them I have self-doubt and feel the weight of expectation. And like them I have a mentor.
Sadly, my mentor Debbie is no Jedi. But she’s been there, done that, got the battle scars and is now a sought-after marketing consultant, running an online business and sharing her knowledge with others – exactly where I want to be in a few years’ time.
And that’s the point about mentors; a good mentor has travelled down the path you want to take in life, they are experienced in areas where you want experience, they’ve done (or are doing) what you want to do. And it’s this experience and insight that gives them the credibility to challenge you when challenge is needed, provide vision when you’re so unsure of yourself and stretch your goals beyond what you think is possible.
So, why is it that so many entrepreneurs start their business without the support of a mentor? Who knows? Perhaps it’s the combination of rock-solid confidence and hard-core belief that propels start-ups in the early days, or maybe a desire to go it alone and trust their gut. Or maybe, as I felt when I was first introduced to mentoring, apprehensive because I couldn’t offer anything in return.
But like Yoda and Dumbledore, the best mentors want and need to be mentors; they have genuine desire to share their knowledge and experiences and give something of themselves. For all mentors the time and commitment they invest in their mentee is worth the personal satisfaction they gain from serving as a guide on another person’s journey.
And you know, this journey doesn’t have to last forever. Mentoring can be fleeting, goal specific, last for a week or longer; it’s all down to the mentor/mentee partnership and a shared understanding. I’m grateful to have had formal and informal mentors in my life; ones that I needed for a reason, some for a season and one that I’m sure will be in my life forever. Regardless of the length of these relationships, each one had a huge impact on my life and career. From all my mentors, I have learned that it was critical for me to create my own path and to hold onto those characteristics that make me unique.
So, for Debbie and me the ultimate aim is that I grow in confidence, become a super-successful business owner and share with others what I’ve learnt. And when we both feel I’ve achieved these goals I’ll move on, maybe I’ll find a new mentor or maybe even become a mentor myself. Who knows? I do know however that starting a business with a Yoda by my side may well be the secret to my success.
By Rachael Cumberland-Dodd of Feed Marketing