If you wish you had someone to talk to about business, you’re not alone.
The vast majority of small business owners who don’t have mentors wish they did, too. These entrepreneurs want assistance to help them grow and get through rough times, and a mentor can be an extremely valuable resource in both situations. A good mentor can provide perspectives you never had before and hold space for you to think through challenges and goals logically
Unfortunately, though, sometimes you simply don’t have access to mentorship. If you’re struggling with a business issue and don’t have a mentor to turn to, the good news is that, in a pinch, you can be your own mentor. In this article, we provide a mini-guide to becoming your own business mentor in times of need. This framework is primarily about helping you identify the right next step. This may mean fixing a problem, making a decision, or consciously choosing to do nothing. We will walk you through how to reach the decision best for you and your business.
Step 1: Name the issue
When you first feel anxiety, pain, concern, excitement, or trouble… name it. When you name something specifically, you start the process of figuring out the best way to move forward.
Questions to answer:
→ What is actually happening? Describe the specific activities, circumstances, or actions going on in your business, related to this issue.
→ What specifically are you feeling? Are you angry? Frustrated? Feeling helpless? Attacked? Irritated? Betrayed? Confused? Something else?
→ What negative impact are you facing? What do you stand to lose? Is this a money issue? A business survival issue? A moral issue? Something else?
→ What positive impact are you chasing? What’s your goal? More money? More time? Something else?
This activity is all about objectively engaging with your problem It’s hard to see clearly when we’re caught up in our own emotions. While it’s totally normal to feel these emotions, you have to step out of them in order to plan future next steps.
Step 2: Identify what you need
Different issues need different approaches, actions, and solutions.
Here’s how you can figure out what you need to move forward.
→ Write down what’s going on with the following script: [THING] is happening, causing me to feel [EMOTION] because it could cause [NEGATIVE IMPACT].
→ Identify what you’re building toward outside of this problem: Write down your main goals with your business. Growth? Livelihood for your family? Financial freedom? Something else?
→ Ask yourself (honestly) if this problem actually needs to be solved in order for you to continue reaching your goals: If it doesn’t, you can instead focus on adjusting your feelings versus making an effort to solve the problem. You always have the option of doing nothing.
→ If you need to solve the problem to continue reaching your goals, what needs to be protected? Sometimes solving a problem can cause another. Identify what you need to keep protected in your business while you fix the primary issue.
→ Identify the value of solving the problem: What do you get in the end? Do you save money? Make money? Have more free time? Peace of mind? Name it so you can assess the value against possible action paths.
These questions are all about level-setting what problem you’re actually trying to solve. This will help you better analyze future options.
Step 3: Analyze the paths in front of you
This is the step where you need to look at the emotions and the situation, and think about getting through it.
Usually, you have three options in front of you:
- Do it yourself: Figure out the next steps and complete them yourself.
- Do it with an expert: Hire a coach, consultant, or relevant professional (lawyer, accountant, etc.) to guide you through the steps.
- Get it done for you: Hire an agency, freelancers, or relevant professional to do the job for you.
When deciding which path to take, you should pay attention to how much each option will cost compared to the value of solving the problem.
Step 4: Take care of yourself as you take action
One key value of a mentor is they allow you to talk through your feelings as you address a problem or chase a goal. This isn’t the same as professional therapy, but it helps to verbalize complex thoughts and recognize that dealing with emotions is a natural part of problem solving.
When you’re your own mentor, you should pay attention to your emotions during the process and give yourself adequate room to feel and work through them. Remember, you’re a human first.
→ Document your emotions throughout each action: Take note (written or even just mental) of how things make you feel. You may be excited to take action against a problem, or scared to take action toward an exciting goal. Or something else. Make sure you know what’s going on for you.
→ Structure things to be as clear as possible: Aim to know exactly what you’re doing. You can’t control how things end up, but you can control what you do. When your actions are clear, you can more easily assess if they worked (or not) and what to do next.
→ Validate your own feelings: Whether through journaling, self-talk, or working with a professional therapist, it’s important to realize that your emotional reactions are valid. While that doesn’t necessarily excuse certain behavior, having emotions doesn’t make you less effective or less valuable as an entrepreneur.
The value of self-mentorship
Once you make it through any pressing issues, you may find it’s time to get a mentor who can help you through future challenges. Depending on your needs, this can be in the form of a paid coach or informal mentor.
Regardless of whether you decide to find a mentor, learning the framework of self-mentorship is an incredibly valuable skill. Not only will you be better able to navigate your own challenges, but you will also be able to mentor others in their times of need.
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