The holiday season is the time to really escape the pressures of daily work schedules and really treasure time off with family and friends. For many entrepreneurs, it’s also a time of reflection on the life and business lessons learned over the previous 12 months. The biggest challenge in moving forward and making fresh breakthroughs for the New Year is deciphering it all and getting a fresh Key Perspective-a 360 degree perspective which includes determining what areas are your strengths and what areas you may need to seek advice and/or assistance in. With regards to getting business assistance, it is equally important in determining when, where, and how to receive it.
A few years ago on a holiday trip back to my home town of Little Rock, Arkansas, I was able to spend a little quality time with family and some old friends. One day I found myself in a room with my rambunctious, 3-year-old nephew while others were in another part of the house. Perhaps happy and overjoyed to see me or on a sugar-induced escapade, he began jumping on the bed and bumping off the walls. Instinctively, I say to him something that my granddad would have said to me at that age. I said, “Boy, keep that up and you’ll fall flat and bust your head right down to the white meat.”
He pauses for a moment, stares curiously as if he just heard an odd foreign language, and then quickly returns to his super-hyperactivity running into another part of the house. Less than 10 minutes later, I hear a loud CRASH-Kabooom!! Immediately followed by crying. Within a few minutes, my nephew slowly walks back into the room rubbing both eyes and sits next to me. Softly and slowly he says, “Uncle Ricky, I bump my head on da white meat.”
Trying to hold in a good chuckle, I replied; “Well, maybe not down to the white meat this time, but, what have we learned here?” characteristics of an entrepreneur
As a business adviser, analyst, and mentor, I’ve encountered this same scenario many times before. Not with three-year-olds, but mostly with young twenty and thirty-something entrepreneurs and a few middle-aged business owners as well. Usually because of our egos, pride and/or do-it-yourself tendencies, we sometimes ignore the good advice and/or business assistance available to us. And it sometimes takes a few bumps and lumps to get through to us. Believe me, as a young business owner in the 80’s and 90s; I’ve certainly had my share.
But as you mature into a successful entrepreneur and possibly into a Breakthrough Entrepreneur, you begin to learn from other people’s failures and mistakes and trust the expertise of others. You also begin to see the true value of outside assistance through advice, education and training. You’ll even be able to translate those into measurable returns on investment. Of course no one person can know everything, be qualified to do everything, and/or keep up-to-date with all the details of your business. So that’s why being able to filter, discern, and utilize the assistance of others is an essential skill you should develop. So, how do you go about getting the right business assistance?
Frame Your Business Problems, Dilemmas, and/or Ideas
Framing the Business Problem, Dilemma and/or Idea should always be your first step in finding the right answers and best solutions. When working with a client or mentee, I usually request that they follow a similar format to the one below to save on time and add clarity to the discussion. Derek L. Harris
Each question, problem, or dilemma should be written with pencil and paper in 1-2 paragraphs and in 5 sentences or less. They should answer these following questions:
- What are the main objectives or ultimate goals for your business?
- What are the backgrounds and core competencies of you and your business team?
- What is the problem or dilemma and its background or history within your business?
- What do YOU think are possible solutions?
- What are the effects of each solution implemented 6-12 months down the road?
It’s okay if you can’t answer them all. It’s just an indication that you need help defining the problem or idea. This is more common than you think. If fact, as an executive business analyst, I’ve met with several business owners that would often discuss what they thought were problems of their businesses. However, put under a microscope those “problems” turned out to be symptoms of a much deeper problem below the surface. In the complexities of business, it can be easy to mistake a symptom for a problem. Framing helps business owners and entrepreneurs think more deeply, focus, and begin to clarify. A wrong question never gets the right answer.
Determine what type of Business Assistance you need.
When framing, it is very important to think long and hard about what your life + business challenges are and how they relate to one another. Once you’re clear on what questions you want and need answered, then you’ll be more apt to determine what type of assistance is actually needed. Usually it boils down to three types:
- Business Advice
- Business Skill-set Acquisition or Training
- Business Education
I’ve always said that some people just need advice; others need to acquire & develop skill-sets, while others may need a whole new level of education.
Consider the Source or Pathways to Potential Solutions
Living in the information age, there are a variety of sources from which you can find solutions. The following are the basic pathways:
- Inexperienced personal acquaintances & friends - people who are often inexperienced in the subject matter but have no shortage of advice. Usually it involves something they’ve heard someone else say or claim they have done.
- Mass media sourcesâ€”such as the Internet, social media, books, blogs, print, television, and radio. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to get educational assistance, but because there is so much information, it can be overwhelming and sometimes hard to determine what or who to follow.
- Experienced personal acquaintances & friends - people who are experienced in certain matters, but are not engaged as a professional in your particular business or industry. They might offer some very good “pearls of wisdom,” but you’ll have to tailor the assistance they offer to your own situation.
- Experienced professionals - people who are experienced in the subject matter and can engage with you one-on-one to address the specific needs of your business. You can get advice, skill-set training, and education from this option. Most people consider it the most expensive route, but it really depends on what your intended outcome is. Most times, it offers the greatest ROI.
Evaluate which Resources Works best for Your Situation
You should further consider the following before determining which best serves your needs.
- Complexity of the issue - Is the issue too far outside your area of expertise? How serious are the consequences of making a wrong move or decision?
- Implementation - Is the solution difficult or time intensive to implement? If you implement the solution yourself, will there be any further implementations needed that affect your bottom line, customers’ expectations or other business operations?
- Impact - What is the potential impact if you do or don’t heed the advice, acquire a skill-set, and/or educate yourself on a particular subject matter?
- Price - How much will the assistance cost versus its return on investment?
Once you’ve gone over all of the considerations, you’re ready to move forward accordingly. But a word of caution: you should never think of getting business assistance as an exact science, no matter where you get it from. Because we live in a world of constant change, we have to manage and think in terms of probabilities. You should constantly and consistently monitor the outcomes and results of the business assistance you receive or act upon. To minimize risk, you should always take your time and review multiple sources and weigh the differences. Eventually, you’ll find resources that you trust and people with whom you can develop strong, mutually-beneficial business relationships.
Still, for most business owners and young entrepreneurs, reaching out for help for your business is usually a hard thing to do, but take heed to the advice here: If you keep going down the path of entrepreneurship and ignore the plethora of valuable business assistance available to you, you will inevitably bump your head.
And for the really stubborn: You’ll see the real value of this only after you “fall flat and bust your head right down to the white meat.”
Well, maybe not right down to the white meat.
Are you considering (or ignoring) some type of business advice, skill-set training or business education that may resolve a nagging business problem or dilemma? Do you have a particular experience you’d like to share? If this article been helpful let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.
Happy Holidays and Cheers to Your Fresh Breakthroughs!