Is “Doing it on your own” dooming you to failure?

Apr 18, 2017

An interesting article in the Times this weekend about the link between loneliness and fraud made me think about the other, perhaps less obvious link between being a sole trader and successfully scaling a business.

Team Work

The Nationwide Building Society undertook some research and interviewed 2,000 people to explore the link between the growing problem of loneliness and social isolation and the equally growing problem of fraud (which is the fastest growing type of crime). And there seems to be a direct correlation between the two, which is a depressing thought when the loneliness issue should be a solvable problem.

As a business owner, you may have started out on your own or had a like-minded partner. Now partnership comes with its own problems especially if you find out you are with the wrong one but that’s a subject for a whole different article. Early stage businesses generally have limited resources and can result in you finding yourself working very hard, long hours in almost complete social isolation if you aren’t careful. When things don’t go so well or you are testing out what works and what doesn’t, you can feel disheartened and dejected which leads to more negative emotions and before you know it you can feel like giving up. Starting a business isn’t easy, but keeping it going is equally hard.

If you look for inspiration from the entrepreneurial giants, who all have autobiographies worth reading, then you will notice that they all had one magic ingredient to their success – other people! They built teams and invested in support but most of all they had mentors. In some cases, more than one. The addition of a “critical friend” – by which I mean someone who can give honest feedback or ask demanding questions – to their circle meant they had their ideas tested and could explore other directions or methods of achieving their desired outcomes.

In my own business circles, I don’t know a single individual who had been able to achieve any level of success without the support of their mentors or a mastermind group. The power of the mastermind is in the mind set of those who participate. If you are prepared to give then you will receive back in multiples because most business issues are either common or relatable. In my own master mind group, I regularly spend a whole day in the company of like-minded ambitious business owners who want a variety of different outcomes – some are driven by building a business much bigger whereas some want to optimise the time they can spend with their families – but all are focused on making their businesses work for their needs.

Though out my career I have been lucky to find amazing mentors who have given their time freely to support my progress and personal development. It has helped that I am committed to life-long learning which has attracted the mentors to me in the first place. Equally I have mentored many individuals through business challenges and professional studies, finding it rewarding and validated by their successes. The key element has always been to have someone who can listen and not blindly agree with you but test your ideas to destruction and question what you are trying to achieve. Simply being able to pick up the phone when you are feeling a bit lost is a business boost removing the negative trail of thoughts you might otherwise fall into.

If you are operating entirely on your own, or in a small business with a few employees who are not engaged in working ON your business then you are not going to achieve your full potential and I recommend that you get a mentor on-board, in whatever form suits you. The right one will be worth their weight in gold.

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