Owning and running a business can be a lonesome undertaking, a solitary existence with a never ending sequence of toil and hard work. We talk to business owners daily, and often find ourselves reassuring them they are not alone. They tell us “no one” knows the problems they have, or “no one” understands the challenges they face. If this was the case, and they were in fact alone, why do we see these same issues frequently?
Part of the problem is the vulnerability that is required to be open enough share these issues with other people. There is a great risk complimentary to being vulnerable which the majority of people, business owners or otherwise, are unwilling to take. Vulnerable is risky.
We see people struggling in their businesses, afraid to ask for help. They don’t want to be perceived as weak, incapable or a failure. This is extremely concerning, not just from a business point of view but also from an individual well-being point of view.
Business is a marathon, an endurance event, not a sprint. Like it or not, we need people in our business lives to help guide, support, nurture and celebrate us on that journey. To be successful, we need to trust others and means we need to be just a little bit vulnerable.
I was recently introduced to a couple who work with large building organisations. They have a great reputation and a solid trading history on the back of many years of hard work. They are your everyday hard-working couple, in their mid-thirties with a young family.
Our initial meeting was tense. They were highly anxious and felt their business and consequently their lives were out of control. They were experiencing severe cash flow issues and had come to see us as a last resort. They were seriously considering pulling the pin on the lot!
The trust and ability to be vulnerable, while being taken seriously, with their adviser at the time hadn’t developed. Fortunately, they did have this level of trust with their bookkeeper, whom encouraged them to consider alternative options regarding their advisor.
As advisors, we go into these conversations with the mindset of “how can we help these people, take some of the pressure off and reassure them they are not alone and give them some hope of a solution?” At the end of the day, behind every business owner is a human being seeking to achieve their goals and fulfil their ambitions.
Understanding the people behind a business, their concerns, their fears and their hopes is imperative to building trust which enables the difficult questions to be asked and creates a safe environment for them to be answered.
Surrounding yourself with people who understand you gives you the greatest chance of getting to where you want to go, not just surviving the ride but enjoying it. It doesn’t make the hard work and hard decisions go away but it provides reassurance, perspective and support to keep you going when things do get hard, as they inevitably do.
This concept doesn’t apply just to business, it’s a philosophy for life!