No one likes to admit they need help. It is embedded into the human psyche not to admit defeat or ask for help, but in the business world help has been behind many of our famous business people in the form of a mentor or coach. Richard Branson is well documented in expressing the importance of having a mentor.
A recent Harvard Business School study suggested that asking for advice can actually make you look more capable, not less. If you are acutely aware of your weaknesses, and we all have them, this is seen as a strength, and looking for that outside help and guidance can only be deemed a positive thing. If we are weak at something, invariably we will make a conscious decision to improve.
As a business owner we also recognise the demands put on us, and understand that running a business can be very stressful. However we relate very well to other people in business, because they experience many of the things we do – how often do you pass the day with other business owners, and share experiences whether to gripe about the amount of taxes you pay, or discussing the last great piece of business you gained.
Asking someone for advice will validate there intelligence, experience and expertise. Making them feel good, means you will feel good about yourself, and glad you have expressed your willingness to share and discuss your business with them. As much as anybody who runs a business, coaches recognise the significance of business owners that open up to them, and look for help and guidance on how to grow their business. This can be a major step for some, but an incredible step that will open up new opportunities, and help you to think more holistically about your business.
The importance of mentorship can also be underestimated. It is the most significant tool any entrepreneur can have access to – somebody experienced and impartial that you can turn to for support. Mentors can be a sounding board for any ideas you may have, and will provide complete impartial, honest feedback. They sometimes will tell you the truth, which might be something you don’t want to hear, but they will also praise you on your achievements. A ‘well done’ in any walk of life from someone you respect is a very positive thing indeed.
THE KNOWLEDGE GAP
In any business filling knowledge gaps is important. The best way to do this is by hiring people in areas you may be weak, but this isn’t always possible when you have just set up your business. Therefore getting out and speaking to people who are strong in those areas can be a real game changer. Otherwise you miss opportunities to share knowledge and improve interpersonal outcomes.
I have not doubt if every entrepreneur who started a business had the experience and advice of a qualified mentor and coach behind them, the business failure figures would be dramatically reduced.
My advice is don’t lose sight of your ambitions, and if you feel you need help to achieve them, don’t be frightened or too proud to ask for it.