MicroMentor Success Story
"Arizona Event Management" Implements Successful Business Plan with Mentor
Entrepreneur: Sharon Merchant
After pursuing a career in mechanical engineering, Sharon Merchant realized that sitting in a cubicle day-in and day-out was making her "feel crazy." Sharon knew that she needed to make a change in her life and she was attracted to the idea of business ownership. A friend reminded Sharon that she was always the party planner among their friends. An idea was born and in November 2008, Sharon started Arizona Event Management, a special-event planning company.
To gain experience, Sharon planned her best friend's wedding pro bono. Around this time Sharon realized that she needed help clarifying her business plan. While searching on the internet for business planning materials, she came across MicroMentor and decided to give it a whirl.
Mentor: Eric Jacobson
Eric Jacobson spent nearly thirty years working for a magazine publishing company, eventually working his way up to Senior Vice President. Then in early 2009, his company downsized and Eric was suddenly out of work. While still in the initial stages of a job-search, Eric decided to get involved in his community and give back.
While searching for volunteer opportunities, Eric came across MicroMentor and was intrigued by the program. He'd always loved teaching, coaching and mentoring and had personal experiences with mentors early in his career. Eric says "Mentoring in general is so powerful."
About Their Match
Eric reached out to Sharon just two days after she created a mentoring request on MicroMentor. Eric was surprised at how strongly Sharon's needs resonated with his own strengths, given their different backgrounds. Sharon needed someone to guide her through the first stages of a start-up. Eric thought, "Well, I've done that before." Sharon knew it was a good match because Eric had years of marketing and had also taken a class on event planning.
Since then Sharon's business, Arizona Event Management, has come a long way. Most of Sharon and Eric's time together is devoted to developing a thorough business plan, which they broke down into sections and tackled one-by-one. Their goal is to complete Sharon's business plan and then fully launch. In the meantime Sharon has started accepting clients. She describes her first event, a wedding, as an "overall success".
When asked what the most important thing that Eric has helped her with is, Sharon replies that it is confidence. She says "I'm on a legit path to actually creating a real business, rather than going around blindly and waiting for the pieces to fall together."
Eric has lots of advice for new mentors and is thinking about his own career change. He is interested in starting his own consulting business. Eric says, "It's really been a two-way, win-win situation. It's fun to talk with someone who is so enthused about what she wants to do." He then adds, "I've mentioned the site to a number of people. ..I'm convinced that there are lots of great connections out there."
Sharon's business: www.arizonaeventmanagement.com
Eric's blog about effective leadership: http://ericjacobsononmanagement.blogspot.com/