Operating a business on your own can feel isolating and, at times, an overwhelming challenge. DIANNA JACOBSEN looks at why far too many business owners feel excessively stressed and inadequate, when it all can be fixed by them surrounding themselves with the right team.
Being a small business owner can be a lonely path at times. It can be very isolating when it seems everyone else knows what they are doing, appearing to be successful and we feel like we are the only ones bumbling along, unsure of our decisions and close to failing much of the time.
We often feel unable to discuss our situation, because it involves our confidential information, or maybe it would feel disloyal to our business partner or spouse, or simply because everyone else looks like they have it sorted and we feel like a failure by comparison.
Unfortunately, this often results in high levels of stress, sometimes causing issues in other areas such as relationships or health. This is not a good way to run a business or to live.
In school, we were taught to work alone and to pit our wits – or our brains – against everyone else; it was us against the rest of the world. However, this is not a good model on which to build our lives; it is isolating and can lead to a sense of inadequacy, failure and disempowerment. Rather, we should be looking to build win-win alliances and collaborations wherever possible.
As they say, there is strength in numbers, particularly where there are synergies that could create mutually beneficial outcomes. It is important to remember that most people who ever accomplished big things did not succeed alone. They had a ‘team’.
Look at business management, for example. As well as having staff, we are told we need a team consisting of an accountant, a bank manager, a solicitor, a financial planner, an insurance agent and a loan broker. In addition, we usually have a few well-meaning friends or relatives on the sidelines, all giving us advice on how to run our business.
The problem is that these people all have different perspectives, based both on their varying professional viewpoints as well as their different personal beliefs and life experiences. It is easy to feel like a tiny spider in the middle of a huge web of financial jargon, struggling to untangle the myriad of opinions and decipher the advice, in order to filter out the salient points relevant to our personal situation. It feels overwhelming and business owners often feel stupid and incompetent; this is certainly not creating the life of freedom and success previously envisioned!
So what is the solution? Well, once we have selected our team players, the key is choosing a strong team leader. We, as the business owner, retain the captaincy, but it is imperative to hire a good coach, someone who understands the assorted aspects of finance, business, staff and time management and can guide us through the decision-making obstacle course with confidence. This may be your accountant, or you may seek an independent, suitably qualified, business coach or adviser.
In choosing a business adviser, select someone who:
you are comfortable with, so you can ask all the ‘dumb’ questions you like;
has values aligned with yours and that of your business;
fills you with confidence from the start; remember, making money starts with mindset;
has suitable qualifications and experience – do your homework before hiring;
is willing to stand in the midst of the web with you, translating the jargon from your viewpoint, customised to your personal needs, and with your best interests in mind;
shares with you systems and steps to implement which lead to attainment of your goals;
has qualifications and experience in finance, hence can interpret and assist with discussions with your accountant, bank manager, broker and financial planner;
has good communication and people skills to support you with staff leadership and marketing;
has a set fee for a set term, so you are clear on the commitment, service and outcomes you are paying for and can expect to receive;
is FUN and uplifting – business is not meant to be difficult and boring!
So don’t lose heart if you feel overwhelmed and disenchanted with being a small business owner.
It’s a team sport and there are many good people out there to help you - just go and find them, put them in the right positions on the field and bring the FUN back into business!