The Loneliest Place in the World….On top of your Business

Picture this: your business is growing respectably; you’ve hired a few staff and have handed over some of the day to day tasks. What do you do now? There are still decisions to be made and some you can share with the team, some probably not. Have you noticed that the particularly hard ones, you know, the one you can’t ask anyone but lose sleep over, often reinforce that lonely feeling?

Guest writer Garry Diver offers his Expert opinion:

So what to do?

Don’t think that you’re the only one struggling with those difficult decisions. Everyone who runs a small business is faced with them and, as you may have noticed, there is usually more than one solution, none of them ideal.

Don’t despair, there are things you can do to share the problem and get some advice.

Find a Mentor.

You know, someone who’s been there and done that, preferably in a similar industry and has made all the mistakes you’re about to make. Someone who can be brutally honest and objective.

Now, beware, this is not a marriage guidance councillor or consultant. If you’re paying someone for advice they may tell you what you want to hear to keep your business. You need expert advice from someone not afraid to give it and HAS RUN A BUSINESS. A real business, with staff and growth problems and, yes, even one that has suffered falling sales and a recovery as well. I think ‘battle hardened’ might apply.

Set up a Board of Directors.

I can hear you already, why do I need that when my business is so small? The answer, of course, is you don’t. But if you have plans to grow, then a well-connected Board can be invaluable in making introductions and opening doors. Again, you should invite people who have a proven track record or significant standing in the community you’re selling to. Here’s where I’d advise to stay away from Friends and Family. You’re not looking for a cheerleading section, but hard advice from those willing to challenge your assumptions and strategies, especially when planning for growth. If you’re uncomfortable with this, start small and maybe formalise the relationship with your Mentor as the first board member, adding another after a while. How many should you have? Well that’s another discussion, but one or two should be all you need to start with.

Fellow Business Owners.

Build a network of like-minded folks who run their own businesses with whom you can call and discuss a knotty problem over a cup of coffee. You’d be surprised how often a decision you’ve been worrying over for weeks can suddenly become clear just as a result of talking about it. It really doesn’t matter what business they are in, just that they have problems too and may have solved one similar to the one you are wrestling with.

So, despite the fact that it can be tough to be the boss and to worry about those things that you can’t share with the team, consider these tips to find people who will listen and offer advice. And don’t forget that if the advice is free, you can ignore it and not feel bad!

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Image – Samuel Scrimshaw

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