10 October 2008

Never be afraid to ask for help…


I encounter a lot of small business owners who struggle to reach out and ask for help when they need it. They are embarrassed or they feel isolated and they think that the issues they are facing in their business are unique to them. Of course they are not, but it sure feels that way when you are the one with the problems. 

So where can you get help in times of need? Here are a few places to get you started – 

1. Find a confidante. Someone in business preferably, and ideally a person who has been around for a while and perhaps experienced a few ups and downs. Open up to them, tell them what you are concerned about and what is scaring you. I have done this many times and I have always felt so much better after I spilled my beans.  

2. Talk to your accountant. Now I wouldn’t normally be advising you to get therapy from an accountant but they get to interact with a lot of small business owners. They will have had many other clients who have been in the same position and they may be able to shed some light on what you could do to solve your issues. 

3. See a professional – go and see you Doctor, tell them what is going on and that you need some help. They can point you in many different directions even if you don’t think it is a health related issue. Dramas in business lead to health issues and Doctors want to prevent more than heal. 

4. If you are part of a franchise network talk to other franchise owners or even head office. Odds on whatever you are struggling with, someone else has been in the same place before you and you may find the problem is resolved in a really short period of time. 

5. Talk to you other half or significant other. The old saying that a problem shared is a problem halved is very true. Trust in them to listen to you and not judge you. This is often the first step to solving real problems. 

6. Small business advisory groups – there are lots of Government based organisations set up to help business owners across a range of needs. 

7. Go online – there is a huge amount of information available online. Do a search for whatever issue it is that you are facing and you may find the answer you need. 

8. Attend a business function with a guest speaker on business. Interestingly enough people tend to open up when they are in the audience at an event like this. If they can empathise with the speaker they will share their issues with the people sitting around them. 

9. Get a business coach – this is a great idea and the perfect way to work strategically to solve any business problem that you may be having. There are lots of business coaches around and my advice is to find one that really connect with. It might take a few meetings to find the right coach but be patient and I am sure you will. 

The reality is that the more we hold issues internally, the worse they get. Let them go, most of what we worry about never happens. Tell people you can trust if you are doing it tough financially or if you are worried about the future of if you are feeling tired and burnt out. The sooner you get it out the sooner you can get the process sorted and the issues resolved. Nothing is insurmountable, but when you are in the caught in the middle of the mess it’s really hard to see your way out. 

I implore any business owner, with any issue, to share it. You will find plenty of business people who have had the exact same issue and they will be only too happy to tell you what they did to solve it. 

2 thoughts on “Never be afraid to ask for help…”

  1. Nicky Jurd says:

    This is great advice Andrew! Over the years I’ve found the best confidantes in my competition. They understand the industry issues better than anyone on the outside.

  2. Well Nicky that is a great comment. Sadly too many people are too paranoid about their opposition to consider them as confidantes. It says a lot about you and the people you mix with. When I was in the diving industry it was the same. We shared a lot of information, openly and honestly. I used to love it and appreciate it and I think it shows a certain industry maturity to be able to do this.

    Thanks as always for your comments.

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