Professional organizer Teresa Nicola of Portland, OR, and business owner, investor, and mentor Bill Orabone of San Diego, CA
This post originally appeared on MicroMentor.org.
Is your office a mess? Does your brain feel cluttered? Have you ever found an unworn, two-year-old sweater with the price tag still attached and thought, “I’m sure I’ll wear this one day,” before tucking it into the back corner of a drawer you only open once every two years or so?
If this sounds familiar, then you might benefit from the services of entrepreneur Teresa Nicola. She’s a professional organizer who started her business, Collected Spaces, in February 2010 after recognizing that many people could use a helping hand when trying to put their surroundings—not to mention their lives—in order.
On the Collected Spaces website, Teresa explains that her mission is to create “environments full of purpose and beauty by encouraging clients to fill their homes and work spaces with the things they need, use, and love today.”
When it was time for Teresa to “unclutter” her own business and give it room to grow, a friend recommended MicroMentor. “I wanted someone who has been around the block,” Teresa says of her mentor search. “I just needed someone to talk to about business.”
Teresa found that person in Bill Orabone, a mentor who has more than three decades of global business development experience. “Bill is very knowledgeable about business. He’s such a pro,” she says. “He’s helped me get unstuck at times and look at things analytically.”
Knock on Doors, Get Results
One way Bill has changed Teresa’s perspective is by helping her focus on sales—a traditional element of any business that passionate entrepreneurs often overlook.
“She’s realized that all these other activities she was doing—brainstorming, positioning statements … if she’ll just go out and knock on doors, she’ll get people to buy her stuff,” Bill says. “The more she does it, the more she gets better results.”
And those results have been improving steadily. Collected Spaces has seen a 10% increase in sales each month since Teresa and Bill were matched on MicroMentor.
Make a Mistake, but Don't Make It Twice
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
–Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
One of the lessons Bill stresses to the entrepreneurs he mentors is that the worst mistake is a “mistake of inaction.” In one of their mentoring sessions, Bill and Teresa disagreed about her approach to a marketing flyer. When they reconnected a week later, he asked how the flyer distribution had turned out. Teresa told Bill that she hadn’t had the confidence to send it, and Bill said, “Teresa, it’s better for you to take action and make a mistake than not take any action. And when you make a mistake, don’t make that mistake twice.”
“It’s so funny, because I’m always preaching that action is the best confidence restorer,” Teresa says now. “But when he said it, I was like, ‘Yes, you’re right!’”
Eventually, You Just Have to Go Through It
Anyone who has ever tried to fit a workout routine into an already busy schedule knows what it’s like to look for shortcuts. Teresa, who practices yoga, recently blogged about rushing out the door to get to a yoga session, failing to stretch adequately, and then struggling to get through the moves. During the session, her yoga instructor said to the group, “You have to untangle yourself, eventually.”
“All right, I just gotta breathe into it,” Teresa realized. “The same can be applied to working with my organizing clients. You walk into a room, and it’s crazy and chaotic. Eventually, you just have to go through it.”
And, of course, the same can be said for many small businesses, too.
“The only way I’m going to learn how to grow is by doing it, by testing it out and seeing what resonates with people,” Teresa says of her post-mentoring business approach. Asked what she would recommend to other entrepreneurs looking to “untangle” their businesses, she says, “Take care of yourself, create an environment that’s good to work in, and then get a mentor.”