In my previous career, I mentored, trained and coached employees regularly. Then I left to launch my own business. What did I neglect in Years 1-2 out on my own? The very thing that I knew made all the difference in employees' success: a good manger and mentor!
It's so ironic; for so many of us who are seasoned business professionals and launching second careers, we think, 'we've got this.' After all, we've coached others; hired, trained and supervised teams, managed $1 Million+ budgets and more. Like I said, we've got this! Then we discover ... well, actually we could benefit from business coaching and mentoring, too.
I think it was in my first year or so of launching Mira Jean Designs that I came into contact with the wonderful Susan Sororko, Director of a Creative Economy for Arlington County. Susan was immediately supportive of my work -- and a few contacts later, thanks to her, I was connected with SCORE.
What is SCORE? A wonderful network of experienced business leaders - many of whom have been CEOs, CFOs, CMOs and Founders of their own successful businesses -- and now they are giving back and volunteering their time to help other emerging business leaders. Many refer to SCORE mentors as "a hidden gem." I couldn't agree more.
My first SCORE meeting was with Edward Coleman. I'll never forget it. Ed immediately asked pointed questions like, "What is your cost to produce X? What is your SRP? Who is your target audience? What are your primary channels for marketing and distribution?" I quickly realized that in order to reach my target audience and clientele ... I needed to make some changes.
One of the first changes SCORE mentors Ellen & Ed helped me make: re-vamping my introductory marketing materials and packaging, to something that was more commensurate with the brand.
Shortly thereafter, Ed enlisted the help of another SCORE mentor in their network: Ellen Brotman, a seasoned interior designer who had 30+ years of experience in the interior design industry running her own successful firm ... experience in the very vertical I was seeking to break into. Talk about a dynamic duo!
Before I knew it, I suddenly had not one, but two, mentors for my growing businesss, as well as the opportunity to tap in to expertise in the very field in which I was seeking to reach. And there you have it, that is the power of SCORE.
Last week, I had the honor of being nominated ... and (Hooray!) winning!!! -- SCORE's Client of the Year award in the Retail/Trade category. A huge Thank You!! to Ed & Ellen for selecting me as their 2018 award winner -- and for all of their help in shaping and evolving this business. Mira Jean Designs would not be where it is today without their guidance and support.
Thank You, SCORE! Am honored to be their Client of the Year Award Winner in the Retail/Trade category.
Above: My husband, and #1 Mira Jean Designs supporter, Eric Hougen, celebrating Mira Jean Designs' Client of the Year Award in DC. Thank you, sweetheart, for all you do to support this passion of mine. (And p.s. Yes, that is my Poppies fabric turned into a dress!! Inspired by none other than Lilly Pulitzer.
Last, to anyone who is considering, or is in the midst of launching and/or running their own business, I say: don't be afraid to seek out support! No matter how much experience you think you have, no matter how much you think you already know, engage others, seek guidance and ask for help along the way. It makes a difference.