Why Your Mentor’s Formula For Success Will Lead You To A Disaster

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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

I’m not into fashion but I used to change my hair color more often than some people change their underwear. One year I was striving for a particular shade of ash blonde.

Then my regular colorist had a heart attack and died. He wasn’t very old and we were all shocked.

But the salon had its heart in the right place.

“Never fear,” they said. “We have his book of formulas.”

They looked in his little black book and found the formula. Another stylist put it on.

My hair turned a peculiar shade of dark brown. I could have auditioned for a part as Morticia in a vampire show. Even the salon people were speechless.

My next hair stylist — at another salon — explained.

“Colorists guard their formulas,” she said. “So he would write everything down but he might have left something out so nobody could copy it. For instance, he might have added a drop of gold to a formula.”

Your business mentor probably has a formula, too.

Nearly every high-end marketing mentor promises works off a formula, usually based on what brought about her own success or his special breakthrough.

One mentor used to advise everyone to attend certain networking groups … even though those groups have changed drastically since she began her own career 15 years ago. Another advises his clients to forget about podcasting and focus on videos … because he never learned podcasting and made his fortune with videos.

But if you look around, you will see that mentors contradict each other.

One says to write five blog posts a week; another says 2 or 3 but make them epic; another says to forget your blog and write only guest posts till you’ve achieved a certain readership.

One says to email your list every day; another says weekly at most. One says long emails; another says keep them under 500 words.

So why doesn’t your business mentor’s advice work for you?

Your mentors probably aren’t holding back on purpose. They genuinely want you to succeed on a massive scale and write them a glowing testimonial.

But they’re often not aware of that missing ingredient that spells the difference between a mess and a million. What is your business mentor forgetting to tell you?

Your mentor’s success might fall into one of these 3 categories.

Success Factor #1: Took advantage of a marketing tactic before the rest of the world discovered it.

Candace was a life coach who wanted to help women move from the corporate world to self-employment. She used podcasting to build her business, back when almost nobody was doing podcasts. She has a warm, melodious voice and a good sense for how to reach her audience emotionally.

As Candace’s business grew, people asked her to give talks … not on life coaching, but on podcasting. She soon became a podcasting expert and earned large sums with courses and workshops.

The REAL lesson from Candace isn’t, “Grow your business with podcasts.”

It’s, “Get a jump on the competition with a technique that reaches your audience. Don’t do anything else till you’ve become a master of that technique.”

Success Factor #2: Possessed a skill set that helps him pivot without pain.

Steve was a real estate agent before going into online marketing. He had done extremely well by a combination of luck and hard work. He knew how to get leads and how to nurture leads to become prospects. He knew how to gain trust of potential clients — an essential ingredient when selling million-dollar properties.

Then Steve hurt his back and couldn’t drive around as much. He decided to pivot: start selling ebooks and digital products online. He instinctively used the same knowledge that had earned him a comfortable living in real estate.

When clients ask Steve how to pivot, he shares the steps for list-building, creating a lead magnet, and developing an online course.

The REAL lesson from Steve is, “When you understand the principles of sales, and you internalize a marketing mindset, you can succeed in almost any field.”

Success Factor #3: Fell into a pot of jam and knew how to take advantage of her success.

Elaine was a brand-new executive coach when Trudy hired her. Trudy coached Elaine to be more confident, be more sensitive to corporate culture, and be more assertive with her managers.

Elaine’s advice wasn’t that new or unusual. And Trudy was already headed for the fast track.

But Trudy was thrilled with the results she gained from working with Elaine. So when she was asked to give a talk at a networking event, she shared her experience of working with Elaine. The women in attendance were high-powered, big-income executives … the living embodiment of “success in stilettos.”

The next day Elaine got calls from over a dozen of Trudy’s colleagues. And the rest, as they say, is history. Elaine became established as a successful coach within weeks — a process that normally takes months or even years.

Elaine attributed her success to a technique of finding good clients, which she subsequently taught other coaches. But her REAL lesson was, “When you see a window of opportunity, be ready to take advantage. Be agile and be ready to move fast.

It’s not pure luck. We’ve all had opportunities we could have jumped on.

Elaine recognized a windfall. knew how to convert all those prospects once they called her. She had programs in place to serve them.

Are these coaches evil?

In their book, Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me, Carol Tavris and Elliott Aronson show that all of us tend to justify our actions. We have trouble acknowledging that we made mistakes and we tend to claim full credit for our big wins.

Candace recognizes that podcasts led her to success but doesn’t take context into account. Steve honestly believed he’s not that good in sales. He won’t acknowledge how his past training led him to a mindset where he’s comfortable with promotion.

So how do you become successful in your own business?

Mentors can help when you choose them carefully — and when you’re in a position to benefit from a high-end mentor. Here are three things to do when you’re working hard, following your mentor’s advice, and not getting the results you’d expected.

1 — Stop throwing time and money at tactics (the how-tos) till you’ve got a strategy (the who-to).

Before investing in programs to help you promote your service, make sure you’ve got an offer that appeals to a market that’s hungry for what you offer. These clients view you as the main course, not an appetizer and definitely not dessert.

2 — Get some traction going, on your own or with low-cost advice.

When someone says, “I was doing a steady $500 a month and then my mentor got me to $5000,” you shouldn’t be surprised. If you can sustain a regular stream of income — however small — there’s a good chance you’re on to something.

If you’ve got some months at $50 and some at $5000, you’ve got a steeper challenge. Your total earnings might be higher than someone who’s cranking along at a steady $500 — or even $300 — a month. But you’re building on a shaky foundation.

3 — Chances are if you don’t have a tribe with traction, you haven’t identified a hungry market and/or your market sees you as a snack: something to tide them over till they get to the main course or something they nibble on between meals, even if they know they shouldn’t.

You can find your tribe (i.e., get some traction) when you’ve identified a group of people who. need what you offer, believe they will be a LOT better off after they buy what you offer, and connect with one another online or offline.

Without that sweet spot, you can have the best, most expensive mentor in the world and nothing will happen.

One way to test the market before you pivot is to start writing your sales letters before you jump into a market with both feet. Write your sales letter before you’ve gone through an intensive “find your niche” or a “find your brand” program. The practice of drafting the letter will give you valuable skills no matter which direction you choose.

If you’d like to get more insight into hiring a mentor, download this free guide to avoiding the 3 most common mistakes most people make when they hire a mentor. Get your free copy here

And if you want to come up with a success strategy that fits you and where you’re coming from, let’s set up a consultation. We’ll take a look at your business and see how you can stop working so hard and start seeing more results.

It’s not just a consultation. It’s 90 minutes to transformation. .

Originally published at https://cathygoodwin.com on September 3, 2020.

Helping entrepreneurs and independent professionals grow their businesses one story at a time. http://cathygoodwin.com

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