Why Every Solopreneur Needs a Mentor

Why Every Solopreneur Needs a MentorAs a solopreneur, you have a huge amount of control over your business. You get to make all the decisions, whether they’re creative decisions, financial decisions, or simply what kind of stamps to get at the post office. But what do you do when you need to bounce ideas off someone? Who do you turn to when you could benefit from another’s wisdom? The solopreneur’s work life can easily become isolated. That’s why it’s important to reach out to others and find a mentor! Someone who can help you solve problems, make decisions, and refine your ideas can be immensely helpful to your business, especially if that person is experienced and knowledgeable.

My Mentorship Experiences

In the early years of my career, when I was living the corporate life, it was easy to have a mentor because there were so many people around and available. My coworkers and supervisors were available for me to “talk shop” with whenever I pleased. Their influence and advice proved invaluable for me in that stage of my career.

When I started my jewelry business, I found I no longer had access to that same store of wisdom and encouragement. As a result, I often made the mistake of often trying to figure everything out on my own. Because I knew I still had a lot to learn as a business owner, I turned to online courses. I took a course from both Tara Gentile about building my own website, and  a course Megan Auman, who really helped me learn more about running my own creative business. (I would highly recommend both for solopreneurs looking for a good course!) I also participated in Etsy’s Bootcamp program. As far as I can tell, they no longer host that program for sellers, but it was a step-by-step program that connected Etsy sellers and helped them prep for the holiday season. Through this experience, I found another Etsy seller who became my accountability partner and helped me work through the trials of running my own business. 

These mentorship relationships were an integral part of both my corporate career and my solopreneur life. They provided me with fresh ideas, advice, and sometimes simply the support I needed to get things done!

What’s a Mentor For?

If I learned anything the hard way from my early days as a solopreneur, it’s this: don’t try to do everything yourself. There is so much I wish I had known (particularly financial stuff!) when I started my own business, and so many ways I could have benefited from the problem-solving power of two brains rather than one. I encourage you to reach out to potential mentors, particularly if  you have specific questions or don’t have expertise in some area.

Where Can I Get One?

Where you look for your mentor depends on what kind of help you need. If you’re looking for general industry advice and people to bounce ideas off of, you could turn to your business-savvy friends or perhaps befriend some people working in the same industry. When I owned my jewelry business, networking with other creative business owners was always helpful for me.

Why Every Solopreneur Needs a MentorIf you’re looking for expertise or need answers to big questions, taking an online course or seeking out a coach or specialist might be your best bet. I know I definitely would have benefited from speaking with a Profit First Professional when I first started out! If you’re looking for help in the financial department, you know where to find me. You can read more about my services and schedule a curiosity call if you’re interested!

Happy mentor-hunting! May you find the advice and energy you need.

Angela

Image Sources: My Life Through a Lens, Brooke Lark

Profit First Overview

The Profit First formula is the opposite of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles or GAAP, which determines a business’s profit is Sales – Expenses = Profit.  Simple, logical and clear. Unfortunately, it’s a lie. The formula, while logically accurate, does not account for human behavior. In the GAAP formula profit is a left over, a final consideration, something that is hopefully a nice surprise at the end of the year. Alas, the profit is rarely there and the business continues on its check to check survival.
Sales – Expenses = Profit Sales – Profit = Expenses
With Profit First you to flip the formula to Sales – Profit = Expenses. Logically the math is the same, but from the stand point of the entrepreneur’s behavior it is radically different. With Profit First, you take a predetermined percentage of profit from every sale first, and only the remainder is available for expenses.

PARKINSON’S LAW

Author and historian C. Northcote Parkinson theorized that our demand for a resource increases to meet the supply of it. That is why when we are given two weeks to do a project it takes two weeks, and when we are given eight weeks to do the same project it takes eight weeks. That is why when given $1,000 to complete our work we get it done with $1,000 and when given $10,000 to complete the same work, it takes $10,000. Profit First makes Parkinson’s Law an asset. By taking profit first the money available for expenses lessens, and we are forced to find ways to get the same things done for less money.

BANK BALANCE ACCOUNTING

Most entrepreneurs don’t have the time or gumption to read the different accounting statements necessary to manage the financial aspect of their business. Theoretically you should review and correlate your Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement monthly (or more frequently), but few entrepreneurs do. Most resort to “bank balance accounting,” where we check our bank balance every day and make financial decisions based upon what we see. Per Parkinson’s Law, we consume what we see in our bank account. Profit First encourages the entrepreneur to continue “bank balance accounting” by first allocating money to profit (and other accounts) so that the entrepreneur sees the actual portion of deposits that are available for expenses and they automatically adjust their spending accordingly.

DON’T CHANGE HABITS, LEVERAGE THEM

Many entrepreneurs try to force themselves to become better at accounting and to become more disciplined in their fiscal management by pure willpower. But just like a muscle, willpower can be drained. And in a moment of financial stress or bigger than expected expenses the entrepreneur will break their own fiscal rules and spend the money they have. The Profit First principle does not try to change your habits (that is nearly impossible to do), Profit First works with your existing habits. By first allocating money to different accounts, and then removing the temptation to “borrow” from yourself, your business will become fiscally strong and you will benefit from regular profit distributions