Having done both Fortune 500 and small business consulting, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. Small business owners tend to be less willing to ask for help than corporate leaders.
Wonder why? If you need help, you need help, right? Nobody knows everything about everything. What’s the big deal?
Bottom line: reluctance in asking for help is driven by unrealistic fears and insecurities. Along with being exciting and energizing, starting a business can also be stressful (and even terrifying).
During the recent recession my business went from the best year I’d ever had to the worst almost overnight. I had three kids in college and a sizeable mortgage, and I had some sleepless nights wondering if I’d lost my mind when I launched my business. What’s the best way to deal with this kind of stress?
Sure, you can’t let your fears stop you from achieving your goals, but like most things in life there’s a healthy balance; i.e., It’s also not wise to put on a brave face to the point that you don’t ask for help when you need it.
I think the sheer weight of being accountable for the life or death of a small business is much more stressful than being a leader in a corporate setting. More stress, more fear–that’s the way we humans work. Small business leaders have less structure and less resources to draw on when things get tough, so they have to create this structure and support system on the fly.
Rather than pretending not to be afraid, use this jazzed up energy to get the help you need to succeed–that’s what all the best leaders do.
- Free yourself from the expectation that you should know all the answers to everything because you’re the one in charge.
- “Fake it ‘til you make it” is fine up to a point, but sooner or later most folks realize you’re just faking it and being brave–this can hurt your credibility because you come off as a BS artist.
- The bravest and wisest course of action is to ask for help when you need it–you’ll have a lot more success.