How I Found a Business Mentorship Team to Grow My Freelance Career

January 6, 2017 Chelsea Baldwin

business mentorship

At the beginning of 2016, I joined an online business mentorship program. It was a group-based program called Book Yourself Solid—and beyond delivering on its promise to help me book great clients, it gave me some amazing ideas (such as using a CRM) to help me take my freelance writing business to the next level.

I loved it. I couldn’t believe getting clients could be that easy, and I was swearing up and down by the Book Yourself Solid system.

But then I got that entrepreneurial itch again.

I’d reached one level of success, and not long after, I wanted something more. I wanted to go beyond a freelance business and have a product too; to take my positioning from that of freelancer to that of boutique agency boss lady. And as much as I adored Book Yourself Solid, I knew I needed something more specialized to take me to that next level.

So, like any good entrepreneur would do, I put “find business coach” on my to-do list and started actively seeking one out.

Research

And That’s When Things Got Hard

I knew this time I’d need to transition from an online group approach to business mentorship to one-on-one, in-person coaching. That switch seemed like it would be easy enough: after all, there are tons of Asheville-based business coaches in the entrepreneurial circles I find myself in. But once I actually started filtering through people and engaging in communications with them, I was a little less than excited. Hardly any business coaches had personally reached the level of success I was aspiring toward. Without that experience under their belts, how could they help me? And the few who had achieved that success seemed to specialize in helping entrepreneurs in other niches or with vastly different business models than my own.

I was in a conundrum and didn’t know what to do. I was starting to feel stuck, but didn’t see any viable path forward unless I decided to hire a business coach virtually, which I was trying to avoid.

So I said screw it, pretended like it wasn’t a problem anymore, and put it on the back burner.

(Note: That’s actually not a good decision to make. My income started slipping pretty steadily because I was ignoring my growth. Take a lesson from me and don’t do that.)

Enter: SCORE

Suddenly, the heavens parted—and I found SCORE.

SCORE

Standing for Service Corps of Retired Executives, SCORE is a nonprofit organization funded by the US Small Business Administration. And it’s exactly what it sounds like: a group of retired executives volunteering to give their time and expertise to help grow local, small businesses within their own communities.

Because of a copywriting workshop I’d done earlier in the year that a SCORE member attended, I was invited as a speaker to the Women’s Business Roundtable, which was also hosted by SCORE. It was in the meeting before that speaking gig took place that the lady behind the Women’s Business Roundtable told me about Business Assessment Teams (BATs), and that she could put one together for me if I needed one. She said if I was interested to shoot her an email with details about my business model and the problems I was facing, and she’d but a customized BAT together just for me. (What’s more, they were free.)

I’d have gladly paid for a service like that, so how could I say no? I got that email together ASAP and within a month, I was having my first ever BAT meeting.

My team and I decided to space our meetings out, holding one meeting every few months that after we assessed the big-picture items of my business, I’d have time to implement the ideas and get them going.

So far, we’ve had two meetings, and they’ve helped me figure out how to balance my time between my freelance services and building my own products, how to improve my own image, and how to tweak my offerings so they’re worth way more than what I was charging at the start.

Getting Started

SCORE chapters are scattered all over the US, and the fact that their volunteers are successful former executives makes working with them a no-brainer—for me, at least. But before you set up a BAT team or other business mentorship program for yourself, it’s a good idea to look into what your local SCORE chapter offers and how those offerings line up with your business needs. SCORE offers free workshops, one-on-one mentoring, and even webinars and eCourses if your local chapter isn’t so close by.

You can find the location closest to you by visiting SCORE’s website. They do tend to favor more urban areas, but there’s also some regional offices your small town may fall into, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

The organization’s success stories are seemingly endless, but besides my own, this is one of my favorites: when SERA Solutions was started by a very young Seth Spencer to provide web design and advertising services, he faced a lot of misconceptions because of his age. But after meeting regularly with SCORE mentors, they helped him overcome those obstacles, take the business out of his home office, and grow into offices in Valparasio and Michigan City. The rest, as they say, is history.

What are your business coaching success stories? Feel free to share them in the comments.

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Biography

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