Mentorship, huh, yeah, what is it good for? Lots of things, actually! (And nothing like Edwin Starr's song "War"!)
Over the last year I had the privilege of being selected for the prestigious Cattlemen's Young Leaders (CYL) program, offered by the Canadian Cattlemen's Association. For those looking for more information on the program, check out www.cattlemensyoungleaders.com or find them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. But sales pitch aside, let us dig into the nitty gritty of why mentorship meant so much to myself and my businesses.
As a small business owner, I'm everything - CEO, owner, photographer, designer, admin, social media guru - you name it I wear all hats when it comes to my businesses B.C.P.hoto and Just.Ag Productions. And unlike in large corporations, or even organizations with more than one paid employee, you have a team of people you can lean on to get the job done. Between lack of employee manpower and cut-throat competition, small business owners are often up a creek without a paddle when it comes to getting their bearings around business management. This is exactly where mentorship comes into play - having that other person in your corner when you need to get the job done.
Over the last year I was paired with my mentor Sandy Russell, of Spring Creek Land & Cattle Consulting. I had the opportunity to work with her and pick her brain when it came to challenges, successes and the ugly parts of business building, rebranding and maintenance. Most small business owners don't have a "coach" in their corner helping them achieve their goals, since it quite often isn't cost effective. Remember business management isn't just all the fun giveaways and discounts that clients often see, it's the ugly number crunching, sales pitching and administration that takes place to keep a business successful and in running order. Small business owners likely have a few people to work with (think your banker or accountant), but those connections can only get you so far. And most of the time those connections are reminding you about dollars and cents and not about how to deepen your connection with your client or how to stay true to your morals and business pillars. That's where my mentorship with Sandy began - starting the process to understand where I wanted to see my businesses go in the coming years and how to get them there. We worked as a team to spitball and connect all those grand ideas floating around in my head, to tangible actions that have already started taking me in the direction I want to go. Do you all remember when I launched "How the West Was One" or when I streamlined my communications packages with Just.Ag? That was in large part due to the conversations I had with Sandy.
Mentoring with someone who works within the industry that you do, but may not be targeting the same audience, is a great way to grow and network. The people she was able to connect me to only increased the opportunities for my businesses, and I hope the people I connected her to, allowed her business to grow as well.
Many people often shrug off the idea of mentorship or continuing education, thinking that they can make ends meet all on their own. After this year, I've come to be a big believer in the fact that it takes a village to raise anyone up to the level they want to be, regardless if that's personal or professional. Without Sandy in my corner, I don't think B.C.P.hoto or Just.Ag Productions would be onto their new and improved looks for 2020 at the rate they currently are. Thank you Sandy for your nuggets of gold, and I don't think you realize how much you've helped me on my path as a small business owner!
From mentoring with Sandy, to attending the various events across Western Canada and the States that CYL offered, and meeting new beef enthusiasts from coast to coast, I'm proud to say my CYL experience was exceptional!
If you're curious to hear more about my mentorship or just want to know what cool and exciting things I have in store for the coming years, give me a shout and I'd be happy to chat more!
"A camera is a tool to teach you how to see without a camera."