Entrepreneurs often get caught up in the process of what they think is the process of starting a business. I would argue that far too many entrepreneurs forget to realize that there are plenty of people and resources out there who want to help you and see you succeed. We are taught from an early age that this is a winner, loser, dog eat dog world. It’s every man for himself. In entrepreneurship however, I say it’s quite the contrary.
Now, there will absolutely be competition and they will try to capitalize on your weaknesses. I am not downplaying the fact that this will be a great and continuing battle you will face to compete in your market but for a moment, let’s just look at your business and what you need to get started. A great reference for any entrepreneur is a book by Cliff Michaels called The 4 Essentials of Entrepreneurial Thinking. In his book, he discusses many ways an entrepreneur can think and act that will help them succeed as an entrepreneur. Many times he is providing advice based on his own experiences which is extremely valuable.
One of the key points I found while reading his book and while learning from those around me is that many people in your industry are just as interested in your success as you are. Michaels says “the secret is to learn from those who have been there and done that very well.” Find these mentors and advisors! Most entrepreneurs are hesitant ask for help from those around them because in the back of their mind, they’re wondering when that person is going to put their hand out and require equity in your company or some form of payment for the information they offered. I think this is sometimes the achilles heel of many entrepreneurs who fail to get their business off the ground. They were too afraid of losing their business that they ended up ruining it due to lack of experience. They were too afraid to ask for help.
I’m all for giving your mentor or advisor stake in the company if it makes sense however I also believe that there are those who will not require that from you. They simply have your best interests in mind. Think of these people as coaches such as Yoda from Star Wars. Framing these people in this manner may help you understand the concept. A coach is someone who is there to guide and teach you the best way to do things, to correct things you’re doing wrong, and to provide advice for your growth. Coaches and mentors can be one in the same. Look for these people. I guarantee they are all around you. If you don’t find them, ask around because someone you know will know the right person to help you out.
Listen to these people and understand the advice they are offering you. Don’t expect them to do the hard work for you. You are the entrepreneur, its up to you. Also, remember what these people are telling you is their best effort in helping you solve the problem you’re having with your business BUT they aren’t rules. They aren’t golden standards and must do’s. You, as the entrepreneur, are responsible for applying and using what is appropriate for your business.
Ultimately, don’t be fearful of letting people help you start your business. When it makes sense, bring them into your business but don’t just give away equity to those who had a quick tip and asked for something in return. Look for those who’s interest is you’re success and someone who you can listen to and learn from. Pool your experience and theirs to better guide your business toward success.
Comments? Let me know what you think! If you are one of these people that can act as a mentor, I invite you to think about those around you who are struggling to start a business and try to reach out and help them get started. Your advice will be greatly appreciated!