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How Mentors were Key to Starting My Own Business

Liz Lidgett in DSM USA

April 5, 2019

I have often said that one of the main reasons I moved back to Des Moines (DSM) eight years ago was because in Los Angeles, you had to be a millionaire to make a difference, in Des Moines, you just have to have a good idea. There’s a special sauce to Des Moines that is hard to replicate because you can’t clone this exact mix of people. There are people in this city who have become very successful thanks to the mentorship and guidance of others, and they choose to pass it on.

Starting a Business in DSM USA

While I always had entrepreneurship in my blood (my parents and both sisters are entrepreneurs themselves), I wasn’t quite sure what it would look like. A little over six years ago, I decided to start my own business as an independent art advisor. It was a position that wasn’t seen often throughout the Midwest and was quite rare in Iowa. After working as an in-house curator, I knew there was an untapped market for someone with my skillset and design eye. Since the day I filed for my LLC, my company has been lifted up by the Des Moines community, by friends, and strangers willing to help. 

Local Connections Lead to Opening Retail Art Gallery

I will never forget the LinkedIn message that I sent to a relative stranger, Doug Dollison. At the time, he and I were LinkedIn connected but had never met in person. He was working for a company that I wanted desperately as a client. I wrote him my pitch and asked him to coffee. We spoke in person and he believed in my vision enough to pass my name along. Within two weeks, I was hired and had my first retainer client. It was just barely enough to quit my full-time position and start my business. It was thanks to the kindness of a stranger, both from Doug’s kindness, and many others after him, that my business continued to thrive. I’ve had incredible mentors both informal and formal (thanks to the Greater Des Moines Partnership), that have given me the tools for success. It was through my mentorship with Mike Colwell a few years ago, that I began to think about how to scale my business. Thanks to those conversations, I am opening my first retail art gallery in May of 2019. 

Liz Lidgett Gallery + Design is ultimately the product of many things. It’s the product of encouragement from this amazing community, a national eye looking at what’s going on in both Des Moines and the Midwest, and incredible resources and mentorship from places like the Greater Des Moines Partnership. I am so thankful for this opportunity and the many opportunities afforded me all due this very special place that just can’t be replicated.

Liz Lidgett Gallery + Design is located at 111 E. Grand Ave. Des Moines, IA 50309. Opening May 10th. Business hours M-F 10 am- 5pm. Saturday by appointment.

Looking for tools to help grow your startup or small business? Visit the Small Business Resources Hub to find the information you need or sign up for Mentor Connection to build relationships with a trusted group of mentors.