From the October 2005 issue of Startups

Many of us prefer to discover information on our own rather than seek help. Some cultures tell us asking for advice is a sign of weakness-a lack of self-confidence or the necessary skills to achieve our goals. We may think that if we don't single-handedly accomplish a task, others won't consider us true entrepreneurs.

Being open to suggestions stimulates your mind to develop alternative solutions and conquer new challenges. To avoid becoming burnt out from being a one-person show, take down self-imposed barriers, and seek the advice you need to grow your business. Confidently soliciting recommendations from experienced professionals will boost your pioneering spirit and broaden your resource base. Here are five ways to get started:

1. Build confidence by gaining focus. Your conscious mind and your passion are powerful assets. Use your knowledge to sum up your current goal and your passion behind it. A crisply defined vision helps others understand the role they can play in supporting your efforts and making your dreams a reality.

2. Develop and use a "question of the day." We entrepreneurs always have more tasks to accomplish than time to complete them. People are here to help; often, they're just uncertain how they can best aid us. Become proactive about getting assistance by defining what single obstacle is hindering you from catapulting your goal forward. Translate this obstacle into a question that, when answered, will give you the pertinent, real-life strategies you need to succeed.

3. Define suggestions as opportunities. Present your question of the day to your colleagues. Let them share their secrets to success or direct you to someone who can help. Catalog each suggestion to develop a list of possible solutions. This allows you to be objective about each idea and keeps you from scuttling an idea because you were in the wrong mood to hear it. Continue gathering information until you resolve the challenge facing you.

4. Trust your own experience. Your belief in your capacity to create rewarding outcomes is the foundation for your success. Don't just take suggestions at face value-others' beliefs and opinions don't have to replace your reality. Find one that catches your eye and heart, and tailor it to fit your personal style and business plan.

5. Remember that opportunities come in many forms. Becoming open to suggestions takes practice and patience. When we constrict the channels through which people communicate with us, we limit the pertinent information they offer. Each person has his or her own way of communicating. Some use the telephone and speak off the cuff; others send advice in an e-mail. There's always something for us to learn, no matter the delivery method. Examine each idea, and uncover unique strategies to realize your goals.

Becoming open to suggestions from others takes practice and patience. Enjoy the results of developing winning strategies by establishing a network of colleagues who help you stay focused and receptive to all possibilities. You'll soon be reminding yourself that if you simply ask for help, you'll be able to achieve success.

Speaker and consultant romanus wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is author ofKick Start Your Dream Business.