Knowledge Mentor

What Being an Unwitting Mentor Taught Me About Business

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“Thank you as well for your continued mentorship.” I read the sentence again, thinking, “I’m a mentor? This wonderful writer sees me as her…mentor?” 

This simple season’s greeting note made me evaluate just how I saw myself as a person, my knowledge as a business owner, and my overall business in general. 

The truth is, I did not start The Write Harle to be a mentor. I started The Write Harle because I loved to write and edit and I wanted the freedom in my role to only so the things I enjoyed doing every day (oh yes…I was a naive young business owner).

Yet, since starting this company, I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring three different writers. Each one has said “thank you” for mentoring them, and each time I’m reminded that, to be a mentor, you don’t have to be decades older and full of worldly experience (a long-held misunderstanding of what I previously thought mentorship was). Rather, by unwittingly being a mentor, I gained detailed insight into the type of business owner I want to be and HOW I can support others in finding their way on their writing careers.

So, let’s break down just what these wonderful content writers taught me in calling me their “mentor.”

What Negative Feedback?

“Have you ever received negative feedback?” one of my writers recently asked. It was such an innocent question, reminding me of when I used to fear this type of feedback. 

My response, “Ohhhhhhhh….have I ever! BUT, it’s not negative. It’s an opportunity to grow. More importantly, and I learned this long before I started my business, it’s very rarely a personal attack on you. It’s a questioning of finding the exact right word, or placement of a comma, or something else entirely.” 

Ultimately, it’s a question of how to take something that may be good to great in support of the client’s content purpose. Today, feedback is always welcome, regardless of what kind it is. It’s then up to us – the content developers – to distill the feedback, using what’s useful, and what’s not.

Finances Are Your Friend

Every single one of these motivated individuals asked me the same question when we first met oh so many moons ago. The question: what is the best piece of advice you received when you first started your business?

My answer had NOTHING to do with what I did, how I did it, or who was being served. Nothing about needing to understand brand for marketing content or how to practice writing styles. It was purely financial for up and coming sole proprietors: put a quarter to a third of every payment you receive into an account for tax time. This way, you have the money set aside to pay the CRA. Why is this important for sole proprietors? BECAUSE WE TYPICALLY DO NOT PAY TAXES DURING THE YEAR, BUT WE STILL NEED TO PAY THEM. It’s kind of our duty as Canadians, after all. 

What many sole props have run into is not having the amount set aside to pay the CRA…but they do have fancy toys. CRA will not accept toys as payment. This alone has supported me for the last 8.5 years in business and will continue to do so in the years to come. Every April, I do not fret hearing what I owe because I know the money is there. 

Ultimately, you may not have a great understanding of your numbers (although you probably should). However, if you do one thing, it’s to understand that by putting a wee bit aside each time you’re paid, you’re saving yourself stress, restless nights, and (potentially) less swearing at the CRA come tax time.

The next piece of back to basics advice – pick up the phone! Conversations are key to running a business, and this includes having hard conversations. Yes, they are hard, awkward, uncomfortable, and you will not do one successfully for many, many many tries. But, conversations, not email or text, are crucial to building relationships, hearing the real tone of the person, and coming to a resolution that is fair to all. Learn to pick up the phone. You’ll be glad you did.

Mentees Mentor Me

Each writer I’ve worked with or sat down and simply had a coffee chat with has taught me so much about business ownership. For the writers I work with, they’ve taught me to continually remain curious and ask questions, always! They’ve also helped me identify gaps in my own business processes as I develop systems and tools to better support them in their brand and content development. 

Most importantly, they teach me that what may seem like a small statement can actually have a huge impact. Watching them implement little lessons from small bits of feedback, along with their ongoing commitment to improvement inspires me to continue growing and furthering my own skills. Without them knowing, they remind me that it’s okay to not have an answer but to then go and find it. I want to be better for me so I can, in turn, be better for them.

I never thought someone would use the words “mentor” alongside my name in the same sentence. Yet, in recognizing and valuing that I am actually in a position to be a mentor has changed how I view myself and my business. Yes, The Write Harle supports business owners and entrepreneurs use the power of brand, content, and process to crush their business goals. We also support individuals who want to learn, ask questions, and discover what they want for their own writing careers. And this is something I enjoy doing every single day!

Have you ever discovered you were an unwitting mentor? What impact did it have on you? Connect and share your tale of mentorship and what it did for you and your business today! 

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