There have been so many valuable lessons learned over the past five years. I know so much more now than I did when I started vChief, but I also maintain a growth mindset as I move forward, recognizing that there’s always more to learn and opportunities for improvement. In this post, I’ll focus on the most valuable lesson that I have come to realize over my half decade as a female entrepreneur, which has been harnessing the power of mentorship and support, a power that is two-fold.
When you’re starting out as an entrepreneur (and at any point in your entrepreneurial journey, frankly), it’s important to push pride aside and admit when you don’t know what you’re doing. No one person can be good at everything, so it’s important to own up to what’s not in your wheelhouse and seek out experts in those areas.
When I started vChief, I didn’t know the first thing about running a business. I was intimately familiar with the chief of staff role, having worked as one for many years at both Teach for America and Braven. Through those experiences, I had also gained familiarity with the inner workings that make a business function. But I by no means had the full picture, and I had a lot to learn as I set out to start my own venture.
"...the most valuable lesson that I have come to realize over my half decade as a female entrepreneur, which has been harnessing the power of mentorship and support, a power that is two-fold."
Thankfully, I found so many amazing local resources to guide me along the way, like Heather Wentler and the late Amy Gannon at the Doyenne Group, whose mission is to support women entrepreneurs as they launch and scale their ventures. Also, the 100state coworking space and 1 Million Cups community were integral for both providing entrepreneurial resources and meeting people who supported vChief’s business growth. As well, I attended several different training sessions that helped me think about how to legally structure my business, choose insurance, and other things that I just didn’t know the first thing about. Plus, these were another opportunity to build great connections with people who could help me in a number of different ways in my business.
I’m incredibly grateful for my former boss and vChief’s first client, Aimee Eubanks Davis from Braven, who also referred several of our first few clients. I was also very lucky to start working with executive coach Jacki Sergi from Radical Spark Coaching just as I founded vChief.
There are so many helpful resources available to entrepreneurs nowadays; you just have to seek them out and find what you need.
On the flip side, following the lead of so many mentors and resources that have presented themselves in my life, I’ve intentionally worked to be a resource and helper to others. In the areas where I feel like I’ve gained credible experience and savvy as an entrepreneur, I try to share my knowledge and insight with others that I meet through various networking groups or other connections.
But even more so, I try to frame my perspective when I interact with others--whether that’s a potential client or just someone I’m networking with--around how I can help them, not how I can get their business. I aim to perceive what that person needs. If I can help them in some way personally or through vChief’s services, I will.
However, if I know of a resource I can direct them to that’s a better fit for them, I don’t shy away from doing that, either. We have potential clients who come to us with needs we could handle but that someone else would be a better fit for, and I love being able to refer people to another business who we’ve partnered with or give them ideas of how they could solve that challenge. Often what happens is they come back later and they have a scope of work that’s the right fit for us. That’s really served us well in business and it’s just the integrity with which we try to do our work.
Asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength, and awareness around your needs is so critical to running your business successfully. In return, as you receive help along the way, find the places where you can serve as a resource or a mentor to pass on the knowledge and experience that you’ve gained over your entrepreneurial journey. We’re all in this together.