Everyone talks about doing the right things to minimize the risks in their business. But here is the problem, owning a business is risky. The risks that become real are never the ones that we plan for.
So, as they say, shit happens to businesses and it will happen to yours. Sometimes they are modest annoyances and other times they threaten the existence of your company. But more often they are a steady series of market changes that exert downward pressure on your business. And they do this so slowly that by the time you notice how far into the abyss you are, it feels like there is no way back. The reason we don’t realize it is because, as I like to say, it is hard to read the label when you are stuck inside the bottle.
So we grind along, alone, inside the “bottle” that is our business as our business becomes a lonely grind.
Worse, we business owners are external optimists as we feel it easier to say “it will all get better” in public while we worry in isolation over whether that will be true. “It is lonely at the top” is about as true a saying as there is.
There is another bad element at play here. Business owners hate to ask for help. Somehow, asking for help means that they are not doing a good enough job or admitting that someone else may know something that they do not. Or, they think, it is the same as admitting failure. I know this because I have been there and have felt all of these emotions.
Fortunately, I realized that one can’t do the heavy lifting that is needed to turn an organization of any size around all by themselves. It takes an outside perspective. It takes someone that will tell you the unvarnished truth and “read the label” for you. If you do not have people like this in your life then I urge you to do little else professionally until you find them.
A peer group is not what I am talking about here. You need to make a deal with a few committed and trusted friends who have business acumen you trust and admire. The deal is simple: They are allowed to tell it to you straight and you agree to listen without emotion. Really listen and then take action.
Because, here is the important point, asking for help is not a sign of weakness or failure. A lot of people are counting on you to do whatever is necessary to make the business thrive. Therefore, I cannot think of anything more brave than sucking up your pride and asking for help.
Do this with thoughtful urgency and the business change and still feel like it is yours. Yours without the worry and stress of wondering if each week will be the last or what other “shoe will drop” when you answer the phone or open your inbox. No more driving to and/or from work frustrated that a lot was said and done but the business still feels stuck. That may sound familiar but you must decide you are done feeling that way.
I went through all of these pains and, it turns out, I did not have to. I asked for help just before it was too late and am forever sorry I did not ask for it even sooner. I would have saved myself (and those around me) years of extreme stress and worry.
There are many business leaders that realize that having a set of helping hands and minds on their side is the smartest move they can make to realize their biggest hopes and dreams for themselves, their business and those that rely on it.
We should be spending more time celebrating this kind of business bravery and making it the badge of honor it is.