On Startups and Small Businesses: Incubators, Mentors, and Masterminds

This is an excerpt of the audio version of episode 50.

There is only one person I’ve interviewed who went through an incubator, or at least told me most about the process. Does that mean you should? A common theme I’ve seen through these leaders is that they have mentors and like-minded people surrounding them.

Incubation is a great tool when it comes to networking but from what I’ve researched, it isn’t 100% necessary. In fact, most businesses that are sorted out are more or less focused on at least having a mentor or 5 and a support network of friends.
Mentors seem to be a vital resource to succeed in life and I’ve had guests on the podcast who are not business owners praise their mentors.

I’ve had a decent amount of mentors, some I’ve paid and some that I’ve earned. Some failed in their ventures, and some say they haven’t failed.

Mentors are hard to choose from, and like any relationship, it might take a while for the relationship to click. You have to be in constant contact with each other, and in most situations, YOU have to be the one to take initiative to contact them.
My advice to finding mentors? You can join start up incubators as a guarantee, but I feel like working hard and publicizing your work is the best way to bring attraction. Not only in side projects like this one, but also in your career.

Sometimes a mentor isn’t necessarily set as a title, but rather the way you communicate. I have weekly office meetings with the Chief Science Officer, he makes room for these meetings because he likes to see me grow. When we talk, he talks about his experiences in the past on how to deal with people, or how he talks about not only the best way to solve the problem, but also why it’s the best way.

The way him and I interact, where he is passing down knowledge to me, and I am receiving and executing. That is mentorship.
A support network is also important. And an incubator can give it to you because there are people in the same boat as you.
Some people throw around the world mastermind, which I fell in love with the idea at first, but then I realized they kind of suck.

I think if set correctly, they can be a huge asset, but I’ve noticed they are only for MLMs and dreamers. Especially for starting something new, goals are really really hard. Accountability is extremely necessary, but surprisingly, you only really need one person.

The most effective way to have a support network is constant yet separate contact with people who love what you do. I’ve found this to work in the podcast when making certain decisions. I am in constant contact with Nicole Gallace from Foodgrads, Kim Schaub from peas on moss, Katie Lanfranki, and others when it comes to making decisions. I call them, ask for advice, and take it to heart, and execute. They do the same.

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What I’m getting at in most cases, it just takes one person to help you get motivated and help you with decisions. Three might be too many.

So to go full circle, is incubation a good thing? You don’t need it, but you also don’t need to buy a $100 dollar outdoor fireplace, you can build one yourself. If getting the resources for a mentor and support network is too time consuming, then an incubator is a very good option.

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