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BizStarts is excited to present our January 2017 Featured Mentor, Janelle Douville. Each month, BizStarts highlights a mentor from the Mentor Program and asks questions that provide knowledge and inspiration to other Milwaukee area and Wisconsin entrepreneurs.

Interview with BizStarts Mentor, Janelle Douville

Tell us a little bit about your own background and then why you decided to help others by mentoring. What do you get out of it/enjoy most about it?

Mentoring entrepreneurs picked me rather me seeking it out.  It started with a friend of mine who started his own business and asked me a marketing question.  That one question led into a few more questions.  I found that I really enjoyed helping this entrepreneur brainstorm, creating goals, and establish timelines.  I mentioned to a few others how much fun I have when someone approaches me and asks, “Can I get your idea on this?”  Now I try to find opportunities to offer marketing advice and mentor-ship to entrepreneurs who are starting or growing their business.

If you want to create an environment where motivation can thrive, what’s the first thing you would do?

I try to create an environment that has motivation and listening.  When talking with entrepreneurs about marketing for their business or their business in general, many are overwhelmed or frustrated. When an entrepreneur feels that someone truly cares about them while showing respect for their ideas and goals, the person will be motivated to commit to the goals of a meeting or strategy.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a comedian, but I was too nervous to stand up in front of people. My interests switch to drawing and writing comic books. I still have my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle stories I started in sketchbooks. Then I switched to journalism because I loved writing and asking business professional questions. I ended up with an interest in marketing my junior year of high school thanks to a marketing class, DECA, and advice from my uncle.

How has BizStarts helped you develop and grow?

BizStarts has given me the wonderful opportunity to grow my mentoring skills by introducing me to so many wonderful entrepreneurs in Wisconsin. Even though they come from different backgrounds and talents, every person I meet has the same goal – to make a difference. It has been fun and inspiring to help BizStarts entrepreneurs on their business’s marketing. I owe a huge thank you to Jacquin and John. Both of them have given me more confidence in myself and my abilities in this past year. The same personal attention and inspiration they give to entrepreneurs they provide to mentors like me.

What advice would you give entrepreneurs?

Don’t forget to listen and ask questions.  Listen to your prospects and current customers to find out what they need and don’t need.  This helps you be proactive and grow your business.  Ask your vendors questions – lots of questions.  Even if the word “expert” is used in their profile 5 times and they were referred by someone you know, do not be afraid to ask questions to have it explained in a way you understand and feel comfortable.  You are hiring that vendor to represent your brand that you are working so hard to build.  At the same time, listen to the vendors to hear their ideas on how to grow your business.  There may be an approach that you hadn’t thought of.

3 Tips for Entrepreneurs to be Successful in 2017

  1. Create Monthly Goals – Create at least 1 professional goal for yourself each month. It could be to learn Quickbooks, attend a sales seminar, or create a blog.  This will help you not overwhelm yourself with the feeling, “I have to learn and accomplish everything right now.”
  2. Do a Leader Audit – As the owner of your company, you are your own boss. Make a list of your skills and areas for improvement.  Identify how you can improve those skills by taking a class, watching YouTube, or partnering with a person you trust who is skilled in that area.  A leader realizes that your head can only fit so many hats.
  3. Be Engaging – Join conversations in LinkedIn Groups, share content from thought leaders, and attend networking events. This will help build you and your brand by displaying your support and credibility.  There are so many ways to get your brand out there.

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