• When I wanted to break into the internet business, I had no idea of where to start or who to turn to for direction. I knew that I loved writing and if there was a any chance that I could get paid to do it, then I’d be all over it. However, every aspect of starting a business seemed overwhelming, but I pushed forward and was determined to make it happen.

    I kept writing and researched, during my downtime, in the most accessible place I could find: the internet. Though informative, it eventually made me feel even more incompetent and overwhelmed with the vast amount of information, taking me deeper into the abyss of realizing how little I knew. I got stuck in a maze of advertised content, which provided bits and pieces of enticing information, but left me hanging without actual steps of what I needed to do to get started. Unless of course, I paid more money. I have to admit that I fell into some of these traps at first, and shelled out a few bucks, but quickly realized that I was wasting my money on what ultimately appeared to be nothing more than a convoluted pyramid scheme. I was asked to contribute more money for answers that never came. I’m sure that there were some legitimate websites out there, but I definitely wasn’t finding them. I was being strung along from one website to the next — to the point where I got too busy and forgot about it or just gave up out of sheer frustration and depletion of funds.

    Luckily, I pressed forward and kept coming back to it. The time I spent gathering research wasn’t a total bust, since I was able to focus more on what direction I wanted my business to go and what gaps I needed to fill. I gained some basic knowledge but still didn’t have the answers or confidence that I could move forward on my own. So, the next place I directed my attention was talking to someone who was actually making a living in the business. Yes, the internet was informative but could never replace hands-on learning. The experience of having someone show you what they did and then give you feedback when you try it for yourself is invaluable. So, the search was on!

    For various reasons, I was slightly discouraged and prepared for an uphill battle in finding a mentor who’d be willing to help me. Firstly, I was new to the industry. Secondly, they didn’t need me. Also, I was sure that they were very busy and had better things to do with their time. And finally, I was just another liability for them.

    Boy was I wrong! Whether I was just naive or simply lucky, I sent out ten e-mails to various CEOs in the industry, who lived within driving distance, requesting to meet for 15 minutes. Five never bothered to respond, four shot me down and one agreed to meet. I jumped at the opportunity. I did some background research on the CEO and prepared some thoughtful questions, so I could sound somewhat intelligent. During our meeting I discussed my interests and absorbed everything she had to say. Then, I asked her straight out if she would be my mentor and meet with me once a week, at her discretion, for a 30 minute period. To my surprise, she agreed and so every week she assigned me new tasks, which I had to prepare for our next meeting. That is how I got my start and it turned out that she too sought out a mentor when she got started.

    Lessons Learned:

    1. Don’t be afraid to use the word “mentor.” Successful people are generally busy and want you to hit them over the head with what your want. This shows them that you’re confident and determined to pursue your passion, which will hopefully, intrigue them enough to make time for you.

    2. Prepare for rejection. You’re probably going to hear the word “no,” or worse than that, many times over. So, take it as a learning opportunity to make you stronger.

    3. Be respectful and thankful for their time. Let them know that you want to learn from them and absorb what you can. You will repay them by taking it a step further and paying it forward.

    4. Being a mentor is a two-way learning opportunity. Of course, at first, you’ll get more out of it simply because you need them. None the less, do your homework and come prepared to help keep it fresh for the both of you. You never know what doors may open!