By Christina Moffatt | Director of Small Business Development, Greater Des Moines Partnership

Starting a business is never easy, but it’s nearly impossible to do it alone. After starting Crème Cupcake + Dessert in 2010, I was lucky enough to find someone to help me with the business plan and financials, along with all the general business stuff that comes with owning a business. As I continued to grow and develop, I finally made the decision to go full time. 

That is when the real need for a mentor came into play. I needed someone who had lived through this. 

I joined a networking group in 2011 called the Women’s Reciprocity Group. This group of women was made up of seasoned business owners. At the first meeting I attended, I expected that they would be pushing sales on each other. Instead, they were talking about a meal train and rides for a woman business owner in the group who just had a brain tumor removed. This was a pivotal moment for me. I learned that mentorship goes beyond mentoring just the business world. It is all-encompassing. I still look at this woman who survived a brain tumor (in addition to later having her office flooded) and think to myself "if she can do it, then I can, too."

In starting my business, mentors were pivotal to my success. When searching for a physical space for Crème, I reached out to my mentor Davis Sanders at RDG Planning & Design multiple times. He was someone I could bounce ideas off of and gave me plenty to think about regarding life and balancing a business. I also reached out to Scott Carlson at Court Avenue Brewery. He helped me navigate through good vendors, point of sales systems and how to retain a good staff and management team. I reached out to Tracy Fuller at InnovativEvents for guidance on how to do large events and weddings. Kathi Koenig with McGowen Hurst, Clark & Smith PC let me pick her brain on how to begin my accounting correctly. These people remain near and dear to me and are part of my business and my success.

I believe that the key to business success is to find mentors in the areas in which you are less proficient. This will save you so much time and struggle. The number of areas of expertise needed for any woman business owner or manager to succeed is overwhelming. 

There is a real need for more female mentors in and around Des Moines. Female mentors have the added value of perspective to provide to female mentees. My female mentors have added so much to my success in business and in life. As women, we are expected to be Pinterest perfect super moms who volunteer for our children’s activities as well as charities close to our work. This is in addition to all our home responsibilities when our normal workday is done. Seeing and hearing from other females who have done this and succeeded are thing I truly value in my female mentors. They are my saving angels on the days when I feel as if I’m spinning hundreds of plates at once. They have taught me I do not need to be perfect.

Even if you have expertise in a few areas, you can be a valuable mentor. When I was first asked to mentor someone, I doubted myself. I wondered what I could teach someone else. What I learned is that I don’t have to have all the answers. What I could do is start by really listening to my mentee. From there, I shared what I knew, and what I have learned through my business and my life. By giving back and mentoring, I have learned a whole new meaning for "paying it forward." Mentoring is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, and we could use more people to be mentors. TheGreater Des Moines Partnership recently launched theMentor Connection. If you are interested in being a mentor or need a mentor, you can start here. 

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