Going it alone doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Here are some suggestions for where to seek support for business owners from Ailsa Page.
You may have heard the saying: ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’. It is certainly true in business.
Trying to work out all your problems on your own can be challenging and sometimes just too much for one person.
As business owners, we often see it as a weakness if we can’t solve a problem. The reality is that successful business owners not only recognise when they need help, they are also able to ask for that help.
You might be thinking ‘Where can I go to get help?’
We know there are consultants, business coaches and mentors but there are also other areas of support that you may not have thought of. Some of them are right under your nose and don’t come with a consulting fee.
When we think of our business as being just ourselves, we forget how we are part of a business ecosystem.
We sell to customers and buy from suppliers. We need them both. Everyone in your business ecosystem wants you to do well. They rely on it.
For example, your suppliers don’t want to see your business do badly as that might mean they lose you as a customer. Likewise, your bank manager wants you do to well so you can pay back any loan and maybe purchase older bank products or services.
You could also consider your real estate agent or landlord as a possible area of support as they want to keep receiving the rent you are paying. Your customers don’t want you to close down; they like doing business with you.
With a vested interest in your business success people are more likely to help you when you need it.
In the case of suppliers they can be fantastic to discuss any particular challenges you are facing. For example suppliers can provide intelligence about the market that you are working in. They most likely have other businesses they supply, like you, so hear stories and issues from these businesses.
Your supplier might be able to offer a fresh solution to a problem based on the experience of others.
Would you go to your clients for help?
Some businesses might say yes others might say never.
I know of many businesses who ask their clients for help in getting more business through referrals and recommendations.
Other businesses if they are experiencing difficulties have levelled with customers and asked for their understanding.
Customers who rely or love your business don’t want to lose you, so they will do things you never thought possible just to help you out.
For example, one business I know has had terrible problems with their landlord and has needed to find temporary premises while they get their new permanent business home fitted out. Their clients have had two changes of location in two months. Surprisingly, even though inconvenienced, they are happy to do so because the business has communicated the situation and the customers want to show their loyalty.
The business owners feel less stressed knowing they can be completely honest with their customers. As a bonus, they get a warm and fuzzy feeling in this tough time from their customer’s loyalty.
Some other areas of support can be found with your bookkeeper or accountant.
You trust them with your financials and they have a pretty good understanding of your business so consider sharing any business problems you may be experiencing with them. Even if they don’t have solutions for you, like the quote says, just having people to talk to can be extremely beneficial.
One of the best sources of support for business owners are the group I call ‘business buddies’. These are other people who are in business and ‘get it’. They understand that it can be hard work, frustrating dealing with customers, stressful with overheads going up all the time and challenging trying to stay motivated. When you speak with them you don’t have to spin the story you can just be honest.
I have made loads of business buddies through the networking groups I have joined.
Business buddies might be your commercial neighbours, industry colleagues or even your competitors. Having regular catch ups where you can just ‘chew the fat’ is a great de-stressor, source of motivation, problem solving and ideas.
Check for local business networking groups near you.
So next time when you need support ask yourself who has a vested interest in my business doing well? Then pick up the phone and give them a call. Your business will thank you.