Yes. Another wordy post with few pretty quilt photos…sigh
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Over the last 5 years I have mentored about 6 people. One out the country. One out of state. Both by email and phone calls. And 4 local.
I am mentoring people in “my backyard”. In my “territory”. And the short version is – If you are doing well with your business. Do it. Mentor someone. Even in your own backyard.
Here’s the longer version.
If your business is doing well, chances are you are a good quilter AND a good business person. You need to be both to mentor. I have known more than a few fabulously talented quilters who let the business part get away from them. Most of them no longer quilt for others or on an extremely limited basis.
Of course it could also be that there is a dearth of quilters in your area and you are the only game in town. But I am going to choose to believe that you are a good quilter AND business person 😉
Also not every one who is good at something can teach/mentor. We have all taken classes from amazing quilters who could not teach.
But again, I am going to choose to believe you can relate to people and convey information as needed.
So “Why would I train my competition?”
Or ” What do I get out of it?”
First of all, let’s call them colleagues. Colleagues can share information, learn from each other and help each other grow their businesses. Competitors don’t do that.
I would much rather have a new longarmer come to me (or some other well established quilter) for help getting started than jump without a good foundation, low-ball their pricing and get in over their heads. I have seen that more than once as well. Piecers not getting their quilts back when promised, not getting the quality of quilting they expected and on and on. Like it or not that can be a ding on all of us.
If a new longarmer comes to me for info I can talk licensing, insurance, tracking software, scheduling, pricing etc. I can tell/show them what works for me. I can point them to resources. Of course they are not going to do everything the way I do it. And they shouldn’t. But being able to get info from and ask questions of someone who is running a successful business gets them started on the right foot.
I am very honest with the people I mentor. I don’t blow smoke up their skirts or tell them everything is perfect piecing and pretty threads. I love my job. It’s a lot of fun, but it is real work. Not play time. You meet your deadlines. You do the work you said you were going to do.
Once they are up and running and quilting competently ( not custom or show work level necessarily, but good solid everyday type quilting) I can start referring clients. I often get calls from new clients that are shocked to find out my turnaround time and mine isn’t as long as some longarmers I know. If I can refer them to someone who’s lead time is half or less that’s a good thing.
It’s good to have a healthy connection with the other longarmers in your area. We are each other’s best resources. Longarmers often spend a lot of time alone in our studios. Being able to meet up for coffee or lunch or even a quick phone call with someone for shop talk is invaluable. Let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of people in our lives that really understand what we are talking about.
Mentoring also helps you revisit how you run YOUR business. Many of us don’t think about how and why we do things the way we do after we are up and running. Having to explain it to someone else helps us rethink some things that maybe could use some rethinking.
And let’s face it. We are going to retire someday. In the distant future, of course! I would like to have a short list of really good longarmers to whom I can refer my clients. We have built relationships with our clients. We understand each others expectations. We don’t want to leave them high and dry.
So if you are doing well and someone gives a call and asks if you have time for some questions think about saying yes. I don’t think you will regret it.
If you are looking to start a longarm business, make that call. Having someone to guide you can be one of the best business decisions you make.