I was very excited to be my own boss when I co-founded my company. I dreamed of a flexible schedule, a destiny I controlled and products I co-created.
What I didn’t realize was the sheer number of decisions I would be making every day and what a huge impact they would have on the potential of the business, my health and my overall life. It was sometimes overwhelming. I often came home not wanting to make another single decision.
Looking back, there are a few things I wish I had thought about:
1.The buck stops with you, but you don’t have to be alone.
As a small business owner, it can be lonely making all of the decisions. I was lucky enough to have an amazing business partner and we shared the big decision-making.
At times, things were moving so quickly we didn’t have the luxury to compare notes on every decision, so we reached out to others who could help. We pulled together a Mom Advisory Board (neither my business partner nor I were moms so we wanted real world insights). From all walks of life, this amazing group of moms provided us with new product ideas, marketing suggestions, product names and so much more. Even the Bellybar name came from one of these moms.
Pull together an advisory board for your business. These could be mentors, friends or advisors. It’s less important what their titles are and more important that they are relevant and thoughtful individuals willing to help you when you need it. Sometimes just talking things through with another person can enable you to get to the decision on your own.
2. Ask for help.
Not everyone has the courage to start a business. In fact, most people don’t. But they are in awe of you and they want to help you. Let them. Think about what you need and who can provide it for you.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs admit that they could not have done it alone. At the QuickBooks Connect conference last October, GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling shared her thoughts when asking for help: Be specific. GoldieBlox won the Intuit Small Business Big Game contest last year and with that came very rapid growth. She needed a village to help. So, don’t be shy. Ask for exactly what you need, when you need it and how you need it done. People want to help, but they need to know what you need to be helpful. So tell them.
3. Create your own support network.
Studies show that when a person gets sick, the physical outcome is much better with a strong support network. We need each other for encouragement and love, and the same is true when you own a business. During turbulence, a strong support network can help you prevail.
Grab some other entrepreneurs and create your own network. Share learnings with them, and they will be energized to share with you. Reach out to them when you need thoughts, ideas or inspiration. My business partner and I both had our own networks. She joined a group of natural products entrepreneurs. I joined one with a few baby and maternity company CEOs.
Some of the companies had been around for many years. Those CEOs could provide great insights from experience. Others were just starting out. The entrepreneurs had fresh ideas and creative energy. We inspired each other. The best advice I ever received came from those entrepreneurs. It truly was my village.
Running your own business is one of the most exciting, and challenging, adventures you will embark upon. Set yourself up so that you don’t feel alone. There are many people who want to help you. Ask them for what you need. I’m cheering for you!