Most business owners feel like they’re on some kind of island. That their company’s success or failure rides solely on their shoulders—and their shoulders alone. Not only is that wrong, it’s incredibly stressful for most people. It tends to lead to bad decisions and eventually to business failures.
The media has done a great disservice to entrepreneurs and business owners on this topic.
Think about all the stories, commercials, books and videos about the heroic entrepreneur who single-handedly creates an amazing business, service or product where none existed before. A success story about more than just a business—these heroes have created new empires, changed the world and now they’re off on their next great adventure. And they did it all by themselves.
That’s blatantly not true.
I’m not saying those people don’t exist – what Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has done (and continues to do) is nothing short of amazing. Elon Musk is a fascinating guy with extraordinary ideas and success. (I’d really like to get a Tesla). Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx, noticed a challenge in the marketplace, came up with a great idea that sold like hotcakes and is now a billionaire. With just a little bit of time and effort, I’m sure we could come up with dozens of great examples of the heroic business persona. And they all would have great stories and lessons we could learn from.
But they didn’t do it by themselves. Those stories don’t represent reality for the vast majority of entrepreneurs and business owners, just like LeBron, Stephen Curry, Kobe or Jordan don’t represent “normal” basketball players. They’re the exception, not the rule.
Reality: You Can’t Grow By Yourself
First of all, even in the success stories mentioned above, all those great entrepreneurs also happen to have great teams around them and had access along the way to great mentors and coaches. Those other people just don’t get talked about very much because the lone hero makes for a better story.
And more importantly, there’s the simple and irrefutable fact that there are only 24 hours in a day. As an individual, you will hit the ceiling of how much you can personally do a lot faster than you think. I wrote about the importance of leverage several years back, but it’s probably worthwhile to revisit the idea here:
The red line represents the amount of effort and time a business owner has available to expend to grow his or her company on their own. If they’re just trading time for money, it’s a fairly straight line up to full capacity. Conversely, the blue line represents a business owner employing leverage, which could be automation, improved processes and smart delegation to others. As you can see, with leverage, the sky’s the limit when it comes to growth.
3 Things You Need From Others
At a minimum, there are three things that you’re going to need from other people if you’re going to be able to successfully scale your business.
One of the big limiting factors for business owners is a lack of time. You won’t have enough to make all the decisions and keep things moving when things get complicated. That’s why it’s critical to develop a leadership team around you that “gets it.” You can trust them. What are you spending time on every week that someone else could truly own?
It’s likely that you’re brilliant. (OK, maybe it’s not likely, but I don’t want to offend you.) But even if you are a certifiable genius, it’s been proven time and again that “all of us are smarter than any of us.” You know what’s going to make your great ideas even better? Working through them with a group of smart, engaged people who also want to win. When’s the last time you truly tapped into the best ideas from your team?
Whether we like it or not, we are all uniquely blessed (or cursed) with our own view of the world. And that view has some blind spots in it. One of the huge advantages of working with a great coach is that you’ve got a talented third party who can help you see the forest from the trees. When we work with our clients, our goals is to help them win on their terms. But we’re going to push them and ask the hard questions along the way to help make that happen.
Have you had your ideas challenged lately? Have worked with someone else to walk through what you’re really trying to achieve?
Although the stories of heroic entrepreneurs won’t highlight it, you need great people around you if you want to succeed in the long run. You need sharp employees who can help you lead and come up with great ideas. And you need a coach or mentors or a peer group who can push you and give you perspective when you need it.
Are you currently trying to “go it alone”? How’s that working out for you?