Entrepreneurs are not necessarily born geniuses, overachievers, or Type-A personalities. Having a business idea and capitalizing on it isn't reserved for only the most brilliant minds.
However, people who succeed in small business do possess similar character traits, including having vision and passion. With that comes resilience and perseverance to overcome difficulties along the way. And finally, successful business owners are pegged as self-confident with a strong sense of identity.
With all of these qualities, why is it sometimes so difficult for a self-employed entrepreneur to ask for, or accept, an offer of help?
Small business owner and Forbes contributor Kathy Caprino recently reflected on her experiences to examine the six reasons why small business owners don't solicit--or listen to--business advice. In a nutshell, some of the reasons she listed can link to the very personality traits of an entrepreneur that leads him or her to greatness in the first place.
1. Entrepreneurs are stretched thin for time and energy. One more piece of advice, an article on how to ...(fill in the blank), or solicitation for marketing/financial/technological expertise, can put an already overwhelmed entrepreneur "over the edge." Unsolicited advice turns often comes up against a person's own sense of self-identity and confidence.
2. Every marketing expert online presents him or herself as a "guru;" every email about "the best" product to help you manage your time is the industry's top pick; every ploy to engage a new software or app for the ultimate in time management draws on an entrepreneur's time, which makes choosing who to listen to, who to trust, and which product to invest in, difficult.
3. Facing the ends of funds (i.e. "going broke") makes a person desperate for a magic bullet rather than slow and steady progress. That vision and passion that drove the entrepreneur to start the business in the first place is a nagging, sometimes unrealistic push to believe in the magic.
4. It's an entrepreneur's natural tendency to be optimistic and driven, to hold on to the belief that it is possible to make a quick million, despite watching others around him or her fail. Self-confidence can overshadow humility, pushing the entrepreneur on to disillusion rather than constructive problem-solving.
5. Admitting weakness and asking for help are simply not characteristics of an entrepreneur, and so being, contribute to downfall. When it's your vision, it's your "baby," and yours alone to sabotage.
6. Failure and/or ineptitude are seen as reasons to be ashamed, and therefore, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and visionaries, hide from those failures by avoiding asking for help. If you don't acknowledge failure, it doesn't exist! Until it does...
How to confidently seek help
Seeking help first means identifying the problem areas. If there's a financial shortcoming, finding alternative funds through an online lender or traditional business loan might be the answer. Additional cash flow can help a business owner invest properly in the areas that can boost productivity, through a strategic hire, increasing production, expanding a business footprint, investing in research and development, or revitalizing your marketing efforts.
Caprino suggests turning to your customer as the ultimate answer. Through surveys, feedback, or follow-up phone calls, ask what your customers like and dislike about your product or service. Targeted questions can often lead to insightful feedback from those who truly make or break your small business, your customers.
Perhaps the most influential quality that can drive entrepreneurs to greatness is the ability to raise the white flag from time to time. To seek answers from those who have gone ahead, to ask for money when sales are down, and to hold their vision-prone to the ideas and criticisms of others.
Try this entrepreneurial personality to determine your entrepreneurial prowess. Can you ask for help when the going gets tough?