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I recently changed some of my website copy, as well as my FB page‘s cover photo to reflect the following statement: “Having the right mentor is the cheapest way to make money faster.”  When you’re first starting out, you have three options: do everything yourself, hire a mentor to help guide you, or hire people to do everything for you. Here are some reasons why hiring a mentor is actually a really effective way to make money, faster.

First, the facts.

There isn’t a definitive answer to the question, “how long does it take to be profitable” as a small business. I’ve seen anywhere from 2 to 3 years, to 7 to 10 years. The truth is, it depends.

I don’t know a whole lot about brick and mortar stores, but I do know a lot about online businesses. And I find that the majority of online businesses don’t even break even in their first three years, because they end up spending far too much money on a variety of services, and strategies, that don’t produce results.

Take advertising, for example. A good rule of thumb for small businesses is to spend about 2% to 5% of their revenue on advertising. But, I’ve seen entrepreneurs spend up to 50% of their savings on ads that didn’t produce any results! These kinds of mistakes might explain why about 20% of business fail in their first year.

The point I’m trying to make here is that a lot of small businesses fail to make a profit because they’re completely lost. They’re making costly mistakes.

    The time it takes to learn everything on your own.

    When I was first starting out in business, I remember wishing so hard that I had someone to just help point me in the right direction. I couldn’t afford to pay someone to do everything for me.

    A good SEO expert will cost you about $2000 a month. A solid content creator will charge anywhere from $40-$150/hour. And, at the time, there weren’t any “business coaches”!

    All I wanted to do was to make some sales!

    So, I ended up learning everything on my own. And I’d say that it took a good ten years to really get a firm grasp on what it takes to perform well online.

    Also, things change very quickly today. There are new social networks, and apps, and new online offerings popping up all the time. So, not only do you have to pick up solid basic skills, but you also have to understand how the new stuff fits in. All that to say, it’s a lot to take in.

    One thing that’s important to note: if you want to do everything on your own, you’ll need a different stream of income. The only reason that I was able to learn for ten years was because I had a decent-paying job, I was childless, and I had free time on evenings and weekends.

     

    Slowest, faster, fastest.

    Ok, we already know that if you choose to learn how to do everything on your own, you’ll eventually get sales. But, it’ll take a very long time to get there. It’s by far the slowest, but it’s also the cheapest option you can choose. If you’re flat broke, you might not have any other choice.

    The fastest way (other than pure luck), is to hire people to do everything for you. On the flip side, you could also get investors, but that comes with a massive tradeoff. Either way, we know that “saving time” is a luxury that few business owners can actually afford.

    The faster way of getting things done is to have guidance from a trusted friend, mentor, or coach who has the knowledge and experience to help you make the right decisions. I’ve seen people call themselves business coaches without ever having owned a business. Social media is full of “friendly advice”, but is it sound advice? Or is the information you’re getting coming from someone who’s done it?

    Someone else’s experience is highly valuable to you.

    When someone has ‘been there, done that’, what they have to say is far more valuable to you than someone who just learned about it in school. Why? Because actual, practical experience trumps everything else. I frequent a lot of marketing forums, and the number one thing I hear from seasoned professionals is that a) they regret paying tuition for a degree that never actually helped, and b) they counsel people interested in marketing to just learn by doing.

    I always tell people that it’s a good idea to make mistakes. It’s the best way to learn. But, at a certain point, you really have to start wondering if your mistakes are teaching you, or if they’re dragging you down. I’ve seen people go in circles for years!

    It’s the cheapest option to make money faster.

    The reason I put it that way is because the end goal is to make money, right? If you’re in business, you’re not operating a charity, obviously. You want to make a living. But, between learning on your own, and hiring other people to do the work, the best and cheapest option to make money faster is to have a mentor.

    Notice I didn’t mention that you had to hire a mentor. Personally, I don’t work for free, but there are mentorship networks out there that do provide some free services. There are probably people in your circle who might have the kind of experience to offer you sound advice. If you can’t afford a coach, at the very least, start looking around for some sort of guidance. For example, you could ask questions on Reddit’s “Ask Marketing” forum.

    But, if you can afford it, I honestly think it’s the best bang for your buck. And by having someone guide you through the process, you can still enjoy the pride of doing most of the work yourself. Of course, I’m biased. But, I decided to do this as a vocation because it’s what I wish I’d had when I was first starting out. I just wanted someone to tell me, “do this”, instead of having to learn everything the hard way.