We're Erica + Jon, professional photographers, Mr + Mrs and Mom + Dad. We like to share insights into our industry, behind the scenes and stories about our life and chips + salsa obsession.
One of our kids’ current favorite movies is Soul Surfer. Its the story of Bethany Hamilton, a young surfing superstar who had an unfortunate encounter with a tiger shark that left her with one less arm and a life that looked nothing like it had before the accident. Ultimately, through her own determination, the love of her family, and important mentors in her life like her church leader, she rises back to the top of her sport and today remains both a sponsored surfer and an inspiration to many. All we could think about while watching the movie is that it is the perfect example of why you need a business mentor!
In addition to pure grit, determination, and a willingness to sacrifice, there has been nothing that has more definitively shaped our business today than mentorship. Mentorship sounds like an old school idea, but it couldn’t be any more important for the modern business owner. No matter how often we think we build things, the reality is that it is that we need others around us to push us and help us grow.
As our pastor noted, the idea of needing a mentor is a simple recognition: in every stage of life, there is someone ahead of you that can sharpen you.
The idea of accepting your need for a mentor takes a few important decisions on your part. You have to first recognize that there are other people out there who can speak into what you do, and have the humility to ask them for their guidance. You also need to be open and willing to hear things you may not like. To be challenged on core areas of your business. To be asked to think about things in a new and different way.
We realized our need for a mentor after attending a photography conference called Showit United. We put together a task list based on the things we were inspired with at the conference and number one on the list was finding a business mentor.
We had big, BIG dreams and the desire and tenacity to push ourselves to achieve them. The problem was we didn’t know how. We’d spent the last few years building our business the way we wanted it, always thinking of how we could best serve our clients. But we knew we needed someone from the outside to speak into what we had built in order for us to go to the next level.
We knew that if we kept trying to push the proverbial boulder up the hill on our own we would be in the same spot the next year – burned out, defeated, and ready to throw in the towel.
Making the decision to get a business mentor wasn’t an easy one for us. The type of mentor we sought required a significant investment. One we felt pretty scared to make! But we trusted the process and trusted in the ability of someone who was steps ahead of us to breathe new life into our business.
We couldn’t be happier that we did. The investment paid itself off within months as we saw our client experience transformed, started booking ideal clients and watching our opportunities and revenues soar to heights we didn’t even think were possible that quickly!
The biggest take away we had was realizing that there is power in having someone take a look at your business from the outside in. It’s something Bethany Hamilton’s mentor pointed out in the movie Soul Surfer. She showed the youth group students cropped in images and asked them what they thought it was only to zoom out on the image to see something completely different than what they had guessed. The lesson? Sometimes you’re too close to see the big picture. That’s where a mentor can help your business the most – seeing the big picture and helping you see it as well!
Maybe you aren’t ready to invest in a mentorship that requires a financial commitment. If so, our pastor* gave some really practical advice on how to find a mentor that we’d love to share with you!
Figure out what you need the most for your business and identify people who might be ahead of you in those areas.
Great mentors are often highly successful people. You seek them out because you want similar success for yourself. Make a small request that requires little commitment from them and put a timeframe on it so that they feel comfortable making a commitment.
Come prepared with questions for your mentor. Send them in advance so that they can put real thought into their answers. This will ensure your mentor is able to give you the best experience while also making sure your specific questions are answered.
This one is pretty self-explanatory – get the most by asking your questions and being quiet enough to learn!
A mentor is someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.
If you are looking for mentorship opportunities specific to photography, or more specifically within commercial brand photography, we’re excited to let you in on a little secret. We now offer mentorships! If you’d like to learn more, click here to find out how we can mentor you!