I vividly remember my first day assisting with a professional studio recording. It was time to put a year’s worth of training to real use, and I showed up bright and early to greet the session producer with all the morning’s necessities put in order. I was going to own it. Best assistant ever. Twice the brains, twice the awesome. How could it go wrong?
The producer arrived and set up his desk, the artist showed up not long after. Each filled up their first coffee of the day, and the two proceeded to get to work. I sat on the studio couch like a puppy eager for someone to throw the nearest stick, to give me a task, let me show off my knowledge. The stick never came. The session rolled like a well-oiled machine, churning out creative energy. I felt useless.
Only once we were wrapped up did I understand the first of many lessons to come in the studio: namely, you can often learn deeply by simply sitting back and observing someone with far greater experience.
That story was about how I met one of the best mentors I’ve ever had. Great mentorship is invaluable, even outside the creative sphere. Knowing how to find and benefit from connection to experienced mentors can impart knowledge that no school or training program can teach. This was a person with whom I could share small triumphs, bigger insecurities, questions both technical and philosophical about the nature of the work we did, and a genuine sense of friendship.
Think back to when your small business got its start. Was there someone or something that served as a mentor to you? Can you recall how you met that person? If not, there is no reason to be discouraged. Mentorship for small business owners can be found in many places.
- Co-Workers/Asssociates/Supervisors from your professional history may be the kinds of people you might like to contact in search of a good sounding board or source of advice. Chances are, these people knew you fairly well in a business context (and vice versa,) and could thus be important sources of influence or examples upon which to model your own pursuits.
- Professional Organizations, of which there are many Canada-wide and specifically from province to province, exist to help businesspeople find the advice that suits them best.
- British Columbians, for example, can avail themselves of the wide database compiled by MentorshipBC.
- Ontarians have access to the SBEC (Small Business Education Centre) program in cities province-wide.
- In Quebec, SBS/CEDEC is an example of such an organization.
- A wide variety of further resources are available at the following link: Canada Business Network.
- Look Ahead and Around: what might you want your small business to look like in a few years’ time? Who is prominent or noteworthy in an industry similar or complementary to yours (though perhaps not a direct competitor to you?) Can you reach out to these people? There’s likely no reason not to be able to contact someone with experience that could greatly benefit your business, even if they aren’t explicitly versed in what it is you have taken up as a business strategy or area of expertise.
- Read and Absorb information from blogs such as this one! Many knowledgeable small business experts operate their own blogs, podcasts, or useful Twitter accounts used to share information with others.