I was stuck for what to write as a blog post today and posted that question to Facebook - one of my clients and friend, Meredith responded with a great suggestion and that is why I am writing this today.
Being a mentor has benefits. . . I have been in the alpaca business since 2002 and have learned a lot along the way. I began mentoring with the first sale of alpacas to a newbie. Not being totally prepared for the questions - I had to "step up my game". His questions taught me a lot and solidified my ideals and my understanding of herd health, fiber and other things. Over the years I have refined my mentoring and have created several proprietary documents for my newbie clients to enjoy. Over the next 6 months, I plan to brain dump the rest of the knowledge that is in my head and spiral bind it for my existing and new clients in order to have a "handbook" they can refer to when they feel they would rather read than call or text me. I am also writing a book about yarn that should be out this summer and my clients will receive an advance copy :) The book is titled "Alpaca Yarn - From Mating to Market to Profit"
The benefits I have received as a mentor are numerous. As I stated, it solidifies my knowledge but it also gets me off my butt to teach more and document more ! It also allows new ideas and creativity to flow. Being in the business a while, I guess I am set in my ways and when someone suggests something new (that should be obvious to me), I am so excited, because I no longer see things through newbie's eyes. I also have a lot of support from my current newbie clients as they all have children and are a host of "Mommy" info!! I am a bit behind on mentoring this year because of the baby - but I plan to make up for it this fall !!!
I plan on doing a host of seminars this fall for my clients on marketing, business plans, sorting fiber and anything else they would like to see , hear, or learn. They get the benefit of my experience and are in the Alma Park circle. My clients never pay for seminars at my farm given by me ! And when there is an outside speaker they pay a discounted rate.
I did not have the benefit of a mentor when I started in the business and had to learn all myself - I think it set me back several years in both breeding and fiber. I vowed to not let that happen to people that purchase animals from me.
Being a mentor has its drawbacks . . . being a mentor can also have drawbacks. In the past, I have shared knowledge freely as I do now and on more than one occasion, people have taken it as pushy or overbearing and the relationship was strained. I am a opinionated person who is happy to share knowledge, and I tend to have trouble with people who lack confidence or are simply unhappy all the time or are unrealistic. This was true when I was in corporate America as well. Those are not my ideal mentees and I am not the ideal mentor for them . Buying alpacas is a choice (not like a job) and it should be happy (for the most part) and you should love it!!!! I have since learned to pick my clients more carefully. Buying alpacas is a two way street. The buyer is getting more than animals, they are getting a relationship with me. Please see my blog entry on buying on value. The mentor/mentee has to have personalities that mesh! This is a big world and not everyone meshes with everyone. My most important piece of advice to a newbie is try to evaluate who you are buying from and see if you can "mesh" with this person - you will be building a relationship ! My clients know usually from our first meeting that I am no nonsense, no BS and NO hard sell. I am not the type who will stand around a tree and sing Kumbaya with the fuzzy creatures, but I will be there for them and hold their hand through a loss, showing, breeding and birthing and answer any questions until they are ready to leave the nest - and then we will still converse about ALL things alpaca but on a more even level.
I consult (for a fee) to people who have purchased animals from other people and actually screen clients prior to taking them on . . . someone unrealistic can simply not mesh with me and I don't want to take their money and allow them to have a bad experience. I also will no longer sell to people who have not done their homework or simply want something cute - they are not successful and that makes a bad mentee and causes stress for both of us.
I have created a successful fiber business, show animals and receive awards and championships and sell animals . . . it takes work on your part to be successful, but I have the knowledge to have my clients succeed as this is the biggest mark of my success!