Having spent the last 20 years as a leader in small and medium private businesses,…
Why You Must Ask for Help and the Top 5 Things to Do to Get the Help You Need
Every business owner feels it at some point: That crushing wave of needing to ask for help.
Asking for help can be really hard to do, and too many business owners wait until the feeling grows into one of being overwhelmed and uncertain. Some business owners find that the feeling of needing help passes quickly. For others, it lingers and creates additional pressures of its own. The most important thing to realise is that we all reach a point (sometimes more than once) when we need to ask for help.
From a business point of view, there are some common triggers for needing help. Often it’s the financials and reporting that causes that deep sigh and headache. Other times its people issues, in fact, people issues are the source of ongoing headaches and frustration but that’s another topic. Issues with suppliers create challenges. Managing debtors and slow paying customers can also create that sense of, “Why did I ever start this business?”
It’s vitally important to remember that asking for help is not only healthy but essential if your business is to buck the oft-quoted trends of failure in Small Business. Every business owner needs help at some stage. The successful ones manage that need well.
Growth is very limited if you do everything yourself.
How many million and multimillion-dollar business owners do you know who do it all themselves? It’s pretty much none. Every business, especially if it is to last longer than you do, needs to grow beyond the time and skill capacity of the founder. Failing to ask for help sentences you to your business and limits the business to the level of your time and ability.
You need to ask for help for the security and longevity of your business.
Your well-being and that of your family will suffer if you go it alone.
Any business owner who has tried to ‘soldier on’ without help will eventually tell you that they wish they had asked for (and received) help earlier than they did. Your physical and mental health will benefit when you share a challenge. The old phrase that a problem shared is a problem halved is not too far off the mark. Once you enlist the help pf someone else, you gain a new perspective on a situation and more importantly on the options that you have to address it and solve it.
You need to ask for help to protect your health and your relationships.
Staff morale will improve too.
For those of you who already have staff, there is another benefit of asking for help. In many instances, your staff will interpret your holding on to a task or responsibility as a lack of faith in them. When you delegate it often improves morale as people feel that they are being recognised for their skill and trusted with responsibility (There is a right way to delegate and many, many poor ways to delegate that cannot be addressed here).
Now that you understand some of the very good reasons why asking for help is important we get to the really hard part; the things you need to do before you ask for help. Most of us have experienced a random cry for help. It’s panicked, often comes too late and is frequently unclear so that it is hard to know what is needed to offer assistance.
To avoid those and to get the help you need here are the top 5 things to do:
1. Describe what needs to be done.
Be clear and specific but not so detailed that you won’t write it!
2. Define the outcome that is needed to assess success.
Keep in mind that the outcome needs to be what is needed by the business. You may have been doing things to a deeper level than needed.
3. Document the process and steps.
Be clear on what needs to be done, the sequence it needs to be done in and the standard needed at each step as well as who else may need to be involved.
4. Invest time to write it, train it and reinforce it.
Work done by a contractor, consultant or employee will only be as good as the information that you provide. No matter how good someone is, they will not be a mind reader. Be clear on the expectations.
5. Plan what you will do now that help is at hand.
Yes, make plans for what else you will do now that the issue has been deployed elsewhere. Will you go home early? Will you make appointments to contact key customers or suppliers? Knowing what you will do instead will also stop you slipping back into old habits of trying to do it all.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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