Have you ever heard the saying, “It takes an army”? We all get the gist of what this means, you need others to win at something. But let’s dive deeper into this saying. What if you’re the only general in this so called army… then what? Who do you ask for advice? Business owners are usually the lone field generals in charge of all the critical decisions that go into running a business. They usually start their business so that they can control their career, or do something they love. The key here is control, but when does this control become suffocating, or even detrimental to the success of a growing business? The truth is that refusing to seek outside help usually takes its toll on a business before the controlling party even realizes what they’re doing.
Starting a business can be liberating, and if you are good enough at it, a huge life improvement. You will quickly realise; however, that the support you might have had when you worked for someone else is nowhere to be found. When you own your own business, you are responsible for the success or failure of your company. It’s a lot of power, and a lot of risk. Sound familiar? Maybe that risk, that excitement is part of why you like running your own company. But, being overconfident in your singular perspective can lead to poor decisions. When you have no checks and balances, one of those poor decisions can lead to catastrophic damage. This is why it is so vital to your business’ success to seek out support, either from an organized group, or from other business owners who have been through similar situations. Put your pride, or fear, aside and start reaping the benefits of collaboration. Not quite convinced? Let’s take a look at 3 major benefits of collaborating with fellow business owners.
- Presents Different Perspectives
As mentioned before, a huge a benefit of collaboration is simply gaining access to other perspectives. Fear is good in small doses because it can prevent us from diving into a pool without water. Confidence can also be great in small doses; it’s what can help us take necessary risks to obtain great reward. But, the weakness inherent in both fear and confidence is that they come from one perspective: yours. A fearful business owner makes the safe decision because they “have been there, done that”, and an over-confident business owner makes the risky decision because “it takes risk to achieve goals in this lifetime”. Neither owner is good in a silo, because they are making decisions based solely on their predisposition or their past experiences.
Now let’s pretend that these same business owners are making decisions alongside a group of other business owners. They still bring their perspective, which is important, but now they have the opportunity to make sure that they are making the best objective decision. You might be thirty minutes into your board meeting and find that your formerly non-negotiable opinion on a matter has done a total 180 because of an alternate perspective from one of your fellow board members. Not to get all gushy, but business owners simply need one another’s help. A broader, diverse perspective makes for better decisions on any matter, period.
- Provides You With Much-Needed Accountability
When you are the business owner, who do you answer to? Your bottom line? Maybe your dog, Fido? The reality is that the drive to accomplish goals and push your company is likely to sputter out, if it hasn’t already. Perhaps you’re satisfied with the status quo, but does that really make you happy? Does that attitude help you achieve your vision? What happens when the status quo turns into a steady decline? Having external accountability, even as an independent and self-reliant business owner, is essential to making sure that you don’t start to slip.
Collaborating with a group of fellow business owners simply brings back that feeling of accountability. Maybe it’s because a group setting ignites your competitive spirit. You want to report that you exceeded all of your goals in less time than anyone else in the group did. Or perhaps you are fearful of looking lazy or unproductive. The idea of admitting that you didn’t do something that you committed to makes your stomach turn. Either way, it’s just the kick in the butt that you need.
- Provides An Objective Sounding Board
Have you ever tried to bounce an idea off your wall? It’s great! The wall agrees with whatever you think 100% of the time, and everyone leaves happy. Having alone time is necessary as a business owner, but there is a point when it needs to end. Let’s say that you employ the aforementioned wall technique for making critical decisions at your company, and you decide that it’s a great idea to manage all of your company data, without going on the expensive course you need. You would lack the perspective that all could go to hell (and quickly).
Take the same scenario, but now you sit down in a meeting with other business owners and tell them about your plans to do it all yourself, and another business owner says “I’ve tried that, and ended up with disorganised information and badly formatted Excel sheets everywhere. It was a nightmare! You will definitely need some training in spreadsheet best practice.” You will immediately consider a different outcome. Collaborating with a group of fellow business owners creates an environment where you can bounce ideas off of one another before making a final decision. This takes some of the heavy weight off of your back, not to mention helps you make better decisions.
We all have unique perspectives formed from past experiences, and those perspectives are likely a huge part of why we are successful. When you’re in the moment making a big decision, it is nearly impossible to step back and recognize that your opinion is just that – an opinion. Your opinion might lead you down the right path, but there is always the possibility that it won’t. Then sometimes there is no right or wrong, but sourcing multiple opinions will help you find the best possible path to follow. Having a group of other business owners to collaborate with allows you to see from other perspectives, gain some healthy accountability, and provides a much-needed sounding board for discussion. You take plenty of risks every day as a business owner, there’s no need to take the risk of isolation. Stop asking your wall for advice, it’s just plain crazy.