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Kylie Carlson of IAWEP

Q&A on How Having a Mentor Benefits Your Event Business

Your business can be brand-new or tried and true--you still can benefit from turning to a mentor.

It doesn’t matter if you started your business yesterday or if you’re a seasoned professional in the event industry, there is no better way to secure the growth you need than by having a mentor.

The best mentors are a few years your senior, and they’ll have been around long enough to navigate the ins and outs in ways that you likely can’t. I firmly believe that we’ve anchored our roots in a profession where we’re surrounded by people who love sharing their knowledge and wisdom, and there’s a wealth to go around if you’re searching for growth!

Q: What are the benefits of having a mentor?
A: Mentors can be the voice of reason you need if you have problems looking at your business critically, or if you have an issue with staying on track and focusing on the bigger picture. They can give you an unbiased look at how to handle tough situations.

You’ll want someone long-term who can hold you accountable (even when you don’t want to hear it). Industry friends can keep you in check, but not everyone will take the time to give you the tough love you often need.

I found that I would often get these great ideas for my business, but then never really implement them. I grew to be more responsible because of my mentor, and I started making larger shifts that helped me get to where I am today.

Q: Do you have to be well-established to have a mentor?
A: It’s a common misconception that you have to be wildly successful or well-established in order to have a mentor.

The reality is that it doesn't matter where you are with your business path, because there are ample benefits to having a mentor. Your needs and wants become different as you evolve, and the reasons for having a mentor can change as well.

For example, in the beginning stages, you likely need help with building the foundation for your business. But after you arrive at a more stable place, you may encounter new obstacles or set different goals for yourself.

Q: What does a relationship with a mentor look like? 
A: Believe it or not, there is no right answer to this question! There are no two mentor relationships that look alike, as it all depends on what your dynamic is--whether it be more professional or more relaxed.

If you believe that having a structured, no-nonsense relationship helps you to achieve your goals, that’s just as acceptable as having one where you can chat comfortably over texts or a lunch outing. It all depends on your level of comfort and what guidance you’re ultimately looking for. In-person or virtual relationships are also up to you!

I remember in the early stages of my own business, I would go to my mentor with what I thought was an amazing idea. I was ready to invest a lot of money into it and really commit. That’s when she sat me down and showed me how to change the way I did my research, and I became more thorough and deliberate. I started to understand how to decide with my head instead of with my heart, despite having always been very impulsive.

Before that moment, I'd never really been taught how to objectively evaluate or perform my in-depth research. I’m glad she stepped in when I needed it and taught me to listen first and act second. This simple observation from my mentor really ended up saving me a small fortune!

Have a plan of attack before choosing your mentor. Understand what kind of relationship and benefits you want to glean from the experience. It’s often tempting to choose a mentor with a similar skill set, but in reality, you should look for someone who can fill the gaps in your knowledge.

Kylie Carlson is the owner of the International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning. With seven locations globally, the academy boasts an internationally recognized accreditation program that brings professional training to wedding planners, designers and stylists.

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