Why Every Creative Entrepreneur Needs a Business Mentor

DOUBT is a natural feature of the human mind, coded into our psyche since the dawn of time to help us survive as a species. But it’s also the #1 stumbling block for an entrepreneur and/or artist who wants to build a business and career around their art.

That urge to double, triple, and quadruple check our safety in any given moment was INVALUABLE back in the paleolithic period - so we could avoid stepping on a venomous snake that looked like a root, or poisoning ourselves by eating the wrong kind of berry... 

...but that instinct hasn’t evolved to match our current conditions, and the types of stressors we deal with in the modern world. 

Playing the "mental game" as a creative entrepreneur

As creative entrepreneurs, when left to our own devices, we can become our own worst enemy when it comes to making smart business decisions… and sticking to those decisions.

See, it’s not hard to come up with a business plan on your own.

With the infinite resources and information available, it’s simple enough to find out what’s worked for other people, and try to adapt it to your situation…

And, if you’re like most creatives, you have a huge amount of energy and motivation at the beginning of a venture - whether it’s creative, or in business…

But when it comes to following through and seeing that venture through to its ultimate conclusion… well, that’s another story.

I myself know how tough it is to see a personal project through to completion once the razzle dazzle wears off, if I’m not able to ride the initial wave of inspiration all the way to shore.

Sometimes I write a song in a day… sometimes I write 90% of it, then it takes years to finish (until something reignites the inspiration around the song) unless I just FORCE myself to do it.

And that’s my art. The thing I’m MOST passionate about in the world…

So when it comes to business - I know first hand that it can be even more challenging for creatives to follow through on ideas.

A marketing plan or launch strategy is not something that comes from within… not something your muse has been pestering you about in the back of your head… or a cathartic expression of your soul, that feels like it’s the only way to really speak your truth.

Business plans, on the other hand, usually just feel like big, 4-dimensional puzzles… 

...where you’re trying to identify and arrange all the right puzzle pieces and create a system that gets enough of the right people to do the right thing at the right time - just so you can generate the resources you need to make your art!

So you make the plan and implement it… but, then doubt inevitably seeps in.

“Is this how it’s SUPPOSED to be going at this stage?”

“Am I even doing this right?”

“COULD this even work for my particular situation?”

The more you analyze and obsess, the more appealing it becomes to just scrap the plan and start over....

...but giving into that temptation - giving in to the DOUBT - only guarantees that you never see the plan through to its conclusion, where you’ll actually get a clear set of results which you can analyze and improve upon.

It’s in the playing of the “mental game” where creatives and entrepreneurs succeed or fail…

...and all across the board, those that have succeeded can prove to us that the “mental game” is far easier to excel at, when you have a business mentor.

What is a business mentor?

A Mentor is someone who’s been where you are on a similar path to the one you’re on, and can add context to your situation out of direct experience.

A good business mentor can offer support, encouragement, and perspective during those moments of doubt, to confirm you’re on the right track, confirm that your results aren’t terrible, and just part of the normal learning curve… and “talk you off the ledge,” so to speak, when you’re considering throwing in the towel... 

A true mentor KNOWS you, and is deeply invested in your success. They see themselves in you, and feel emotionally compelled to help you avoid the mistakes that they suffered through…

...and likewise, you see yourself in them - a living, breathing example of what’s possible for you to achieve when you reach your own highest potential.

When you have someone in your corner who’s been where you are done what you want to do, who can look objectively at your plans and ideas, and  - speaking from direct experience - tell you what WILL and WON’T work… 

...your chances at success skyrocket.

A business mentor is the common thread

See, when we look at the entrepreneurs, artists, or noteworthy humans of just about any profession - the common thread for 99% of them is that they had a Mentor when they started out. 

A few examples:

  • Legendary broadcast journalist, author, and television personality Barbara Walters mentored Oprah Winfrey, who once told her in an interview, “Had there not been you, there never would have been me,” 
  • Renowned economist and Treasury Secretary during the Clinton Administration, Larry Summers mentored Sheryl Sandberg - the COO of Facebook.
  • Folk legend Pete Seeger was an early mentor for New School grad, Ani DiFranco

Guidance and the outside experience of others allows you skip the trial, error, doubt, and confusion - and implement strategies and tactics in your business and/or career that are likely to succeed.  

The impact is even more important if you are coming from a background where entrepreneurs were not in your family or environment growing up--and they can be really hard to find at art school. 

It’s true: A study conducted by UPS found that 70 percent of mentored businesses survive more than five years - double the rate for non-mentored small businesses over that same period. 

...and the same UPS study also found that 88% of business owners found that having a mentor or business mentor to lean on was “invaluable.” 

Someone who’s been in your shoes, and knows how to get from where you are to where you want to be, can tell you how to avoid the pitfalls and get maximum results with minimal effort.

You get to build on the work they’ve already done and use their journey as a roadmap… thereby shortening and smoothing the path of your own journey considerably.


Meet the author:

Addison Rice is songwriter, producer, digital marketing strategist, direct-response copywriter, and entrepreneur. He lives nomadically in a converted school bus with his wife/bandmate, Jahnavi - travelling the country and making music while he helps musicians and creative entrepreneurs build businesses around their art. 

You can find out more about Addison and his various projects at AddisonRice.com and listen to his band, The Love Sprockets, and check out their bus life at TheLoveSprockets.com.  Or, simply, follow him on instagram @hurricane.addison. 

The Parsons Entrepreneur Academy--Powered by the Parsons School of Design--is an online platform dedicated to helping creative professionals learn and master the business side of their professions. We provide community, mentoring and courses created for and by people in the creative fields.  Sign-up for our emails and learn how to turn your art into a business.


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