Dear Design Doctor
I am looking for some advice and want to find a creative business mentor. How do I do that? And do you offer creative business mentoring by any chance?
‘Thank you for asking. I get request for creative business mentoring nearly weekly, as many creatives are looking for advice.
It’s great that you are considering get expert advice as many creatives don’t as they think that asking for advice or support is a sign of failure. But, if you look at successful creative businesses they all have a team of mentors, trainers and advisers around them.
My first question to you would be:
What kind of advice are you actually looking for?
Are you looking for specific advice, for example on costing and pricing, finances, marketing?
Or are you looking for support to grow your business, and overcoming a wider range of challenges?
Or are you looking for practical help on launching your website or Etsy shop, or how to do social media?
Or are you looking to get advice from a more established designer maker?
Because, right now your question on how to find a creative business mentor is too broad, and therefore I can’t really answer it.
Because a creative business mentor is a specific type of adviser actually. The official definition of a mentoris: ‘a person who gives a younger or less experienced person help and advice over a period of time, especially at work or school.’ They advice and train, and are experienced. They guide, and are a confidant.
A mentor is often another creative, who is more established and experienced then yourself, who has ran their own business, and who can give you advice on how they have started and grown their own creative career and business. They can talk to you about the challenges they had to overcome, and they can share their technical and creative skills with you too. They might even introduce you to some of their contacts, or help you when you do your first craft fair or trade show.
Mentoring has a very long tradition in the creative sector – think about the medieval guilds. But also the role that a Senior Designer plays in the technical, creative and commercial development of junior colleagues is a form of crucial mentorship.
If you are looking for practical financial, business or marketing advice then you are best of with a specialist or expert in marketing or social media, such as a graphic or branding designer, a social media specialist, a stylist or photographer, or bookkeepers or accountants. Ideally find somebody with a background in your specific type of business. They don’t necessarily call themselves ‘advisers’ but in fact they are. They can give you practical advice or consultancy, but they can also do the work for you.
Obviously getting specialist 1-2-1 advice comes with a price tag. Alternatively you can do a workshop or course around finance, bookkeeping or marketing, or read books and blog posts. You can find regularly business workshops across the UK and online in our selected listings, check out our 100+ blog posts, or our book reviews for practical business books on business planning, marketing, social media, photography, blogging, finances and much more.
If you are looking for creative business advice then a creative business adviser can help you with business planning, finance, marketing and the like. Advisers give you the facts, and tell you what to do and how to implement that in your own business, they won’t do the job for you (!). They often work as creative business trainers too, and run training workshops. If you want to improve your knowledge around business planning, marketing, management or legal aspects of your business, then you don’t always need 1-2-1 advice. Reading a good creative business book or blog post, watching a webinar or online course, or doing a workshop or training course might be a quicker, easier and cheaper option for you.
A creative business coach can help you more with the challenges of how to implement and take actions, and deal with the ’emotional’ side of running a business and what’s stopping you to make changes in your life and business. A good coach won’t tell you what to do, but instead will ask you the big and thought-provoking questions, so you can find the best solutions for YOUR business. They can help you with procrastination, building your confidence and taking action.
The first step to find a creative business mentor, adviser, expert or coach is:
- Identify exactly what you need advice on and help with. Is it technical, creative, managerial, or around finance, marketing or implementation.
- Make a list of all the things you need advice, support & training for. What do you need to learn?
- Then prioritise what is most important and urgent on your list.
- And then identify for each item who or what can help you with that. You might not need individual advice or support, a book, blog post or workshop often can help you straight away, for a lot less money.
So, now you understand the different options for 1-2-1 creative business mentoring, the next step is:
Where do I find a creative business mentor and how to approach them?
You can read the answer to that question in our next blog in this series on 3 ways to find a creative business mentor, adviser or coach.
And to find the right professional mentor, adviser or coach for YOU, you need to know the right questions to ask them. We give you a checklist of 12 questions to ask your prospective adviser here.
Can you be my mentor, Patricia?
To be honest I have stopped doing 121 mentoring and coaching, as I didn’t feel I was able to really get involved with a business owner enough and often financial resources are limited. These days I really love mentoring in small groups as I see that the impact of a group is far greater than ‘just’ my input. For example in our group coaching programme with Get Clients Now I know that the participants get a lot from my knowledge and input, but they also get a lot from the other participants and they often achieve far more as part of the group then they would do if I work with them alone. If you want my advice, coaching and coaching on your marketing then check out our popular Get Clients Now online marketing programme.
I do provide some 121 advice and coaching but only to participants of our online workshops or courses. In that way I can combine the best of both worlds: you learn in our online training sessions the knowledge and skills you need, and then you can discuss with me afterwards what is stopping you or what is a particular question or challenge. It’s effective, personal and affordable! You can find out more about our upcoming workshops and courses here in The Design Trust Online Business School & Shop