Business owners are generally self starters, independent, ambitious and confident individuals. But these great characteristics can hold you back as much as drive your business forward. It’s the very nature of entrepreneurs and business leaders that makes it difficult to ask for help.
Think about the stereotypical husband and wife who are lost. The tough independent man is determined to keep trying to his way himself, refusing to ask for directions because it is seen as a sign of weakness and incompetence. But the wife is happy to ask for directions, and in no time at all, they find their destination.
Now I know that’s a massive generalisation, but there’s a lesson to be learned from having the wisdom, humility and confidence to ask for help.
What’s holding you back from asking for help?
- You will feel indebted to the person who helps you and you don’t want to owe anyone anything.
- You don’t want to admit to yourself or anyone else that you or your business may have a deficiency.
- Your ego will be bruised, because you are supposed to project confidence and competence at all times.
Why it is beneficial to ask for help
- You simply can’t be good at everything. While it’s great to do the best you can do, sometimes it’s best to let someone else do it better. There’s also nothing wrong with asking someone to show you how to do it better.
- It helps you move faster and avoid the frustration of making mistakes. If you can learn from someone else’s mistakes and experience, why wouldn’t you do it?
- It helps you fill your gaps in knowledge and skills and you gain a new perspective and insights when you get advice from others.
- When someone else is willing to engage and understand your business challenges and offer advice, it can enhance your sense of purpose and give you renewed energy and direction.
- And finally, you give someone else an opportunity to feel good about themselves – everyone loves knowing they have helped someone else.
So how can we go about asking for help?
- Bounce ideas off people you respect. You don’t need to keep everything to yourself and make it happen on your own. Talk about your ideas, your challenges and your feelings to people who have a positive influence on your life. (See our recent blog on surrounding yourself with the right people).
- Ask your customers for feedback or constructive criticism. Business relationships are a two-way street. Yes, you provide the service or product, but your customer can help you finetune your product or service by giving you feedback on their experience.
- Ask for new business. This method of client acquisition is so simple, it is often missed… you have to ASK for business. You’d be surprised how many referrals you’ll get from existing customers if you just ask. Revisit old clients and ASK if they’d be interested in doing business with you again.
- Outsource or get a consultant. If you know there’s something that’s not your forte, get someone better to do it for you. Firstly, it will be done quicker, it will be a better job than you could have done, and it frees you up to do what you are good at.
- Find a coach or mentor who can help you see the wood for the trees. Sometimes, the help you need is not for someone else to do the work for you, but to help you unpack your own potential, crystalise your thinking, focus your attention on the right actions and behaviours and guide you towards your vision for your business.
It’s terribly stereotypical and old fashioned to think that business owners are weak if they ask for help. In fact, it’s a strength brought about by high EQ to be able to acknowledge that you don’t know everything and that you can’t be good at everything.
As motivational speaker, Les Brown, says… Ask for help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong.