There are few things that strike fear into an entrepreneur. Networking. Taxes. Tech glitches on launch day. And asking for help. After all, we’re in charge of everything – doesn’t that mean we’re supposed to be the expert on everything?
Nope. Not at all – the pressure is off.
It can be tough to fess up when something isn’t your strong suit and humbling to ask for a helping hand, but reaching out for support isn’t a sign of weakness - it’s a sign of strength.
Asking for support will require effort and vulnerability on your part, but before deciding to stick it out on your own, consider the impact of not asking for help: hours spent slogging through trial-and-error; not having energy or time to create new content or connect with potential clients; the added expense of bringing in a pro to save the day after something goes wonky. Or worse - being stuck in the status quo, and not moving your business forward. Facing risks like these, asking for the help you need trumps stubborn independence, every time.
Read on for three steps to getting the support you need to help your business thrive.
First thing’s first: figure out what you need help with. Get clear on what will move you forward, and what you can’t do yourself. It’s important to fill this list with intentional and strategic activities.
A good place to start is your to-do list. If an item has been making multiple appearances, yet never getting crossed off, it’s a good candidate. Whether it’s fear, skill set or lack of time that’s preventing you from getting it done, that can be overcome. Another good place to find items you need help with is in your future plans. What big, exciting services or products are you bringing into the world? Do a quick brainstorm of all of the moving parts associated with each of them, and circle the ones that aren’t in your sweet spot.
With your list of ‘help me!’ items in hand, begin compiling a resource list of people who have the needed skill sets. Think of it like building your business’ go-to team. Look towards your friends, family, and colleagues (both online and in real life). Start with going through your social media contacts and jotting down which areas of expertise jump out at you. It’s not about delving into profiles and portfolios just in case they’ve got a secret super power you haven’t noticed before. Most of us have a stand out specialty that will be top of mind. Still have something you can’t find a resource for? Tap into your second circle of connections. Know a gal who knows a gal? Ask for an introduction or referral. [Editor’s note: the One Woman Shop directory is a great place to start your search for talented solopreneurs.]
The final step is to reach out and ask for the support you need. This involves clearly expressing what you need help with, outlining expectations, and aiming for an ‘easy yes’ for the other person. Let’s see how those wrap up into your request.
- Get Specific: Asking for ‘help with your website’ is far too broad. Narrow it down to the specific action item you need help with. “Can you please help me come up with a great headline for my sales page?” is much better.
- Outline Expectations: What kind of support do you need? A quick email? Phone call? A done-for-you tweak? Spell out how you’d like to receive help, and what your timeline is. “I have a few ideas, and would appreciate your thoughts via email or Skype. My launch is scheduled for 4 weeks from now.”
- Easy Yes: Your chances of receiving help are greater when you bring down the barriers to someone saying yes. Consider their schedule, how long helping you will take, and the strength of your connection to them when asking for support. “I know you’ve got a full week, but am hoping that you’d have 15 minutes to hop on the line and help me through this. I’ve attached the ideas I’ve come up with, and your input and perspective would be very much appreciated.”
Shifting your mindset is key in taking these three steps. It requires understanding that admitting blind spots and asking for help makes you a stronger business woman, capable of tackling – with the help of your go-to team - whatever life or business throws your way.
Support is a Two-Way Street
Now that you’ve unlocked the keys to asking for support, be open to offering assistance, or stepping up when someone has the courage to ask you for help. The impact of helping others will be more valuable than you can imagine. As solopreneurs, contributing to the success of others is just as important as making sure our own needs are met. After all, we may be one woman shops…but we’re certainly not in it alone.
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