Yes, You Can Afford to Ask for Help
I’ve seen a number of Mamas & Co. members asking questions like this in the online community:
I’ve failed at multi-tasking, any recommendations for help with X, Y, Z?
As a 16-year business owner who started accidentally, who grew and shrank, I can say from experience that asking for help builds better businesses – from being more profitable to achieving the elusive work/life balance.
Many kinds of help exist to get there: bookkeepers, coaches, marketing professionals, peer groups, cleaners, etc. – from practical to emotional.
Not getting help limits growth, or worse, by being unable to correct issues or being miserable.
Most importantly, we should not feel we’ve failed by asking for help, but rather that we’re taking the bull by the horns. Why don’t we ask? Points of resistance are time, money and feeling challenges should be toughed-out. Let’s take a look at each of these and how to break through the barriers.
I Don’t Have Time
You’ve set things up a certain way and it’ll take too long to get anyone up to speed. You can’t imagine dedicating one hour a week to coaching sessions (nevermind the homework). Juniors will never do it well enough and you’ll redo work anyway.
To the first two I say: the time investment is worth it. To the last: hire well, train thoroughly and let go. If you don’t learn to delegate you’ll never be able to expand.
Incorporating help takes time at first, but you can figure out how to accommodate it. Just think about potential long-term gains. How much billable, family and me time could you free up not doing the things that aren’t your bag? Are you sitting up after your children go to sleep reconciling your bank account instead of eating, sleeping or spending time with your spouse? Imagine if someone could help you identify and correct inefficient practices. I started working with a coach/consultant when I had some employees and felt run-ragged with management. I didn’t even know where I wanted more time, nevermind how to get it.
I Don’t Want to Spend The Money
It’s hard when income is unpredictable, especially when you’re building your business. But consider the cost of not asking for help. One is that you may be losing hours where you could earn much more than it would cost to delegate. You’re saving $30/hr on the bookkeeper, but also not billing $150/hr for your expertise. You could pay a junior you to do some of the leg-work that doesn’t require your level – you’re not getting the whole amount billed, but you can work on other billable stuff at the same time. Suddenly, you’re actually making more money and you’re likely happier doing it.
Another cost is less tangible. The graphic designer I first freelanced for, who encouraged me to start my own business, did his own books and collections. After a couple of hours at it he would be so frustrated and upset there was a black cloud rolling over his head. It killed his creativity and fed a growing contempt for his clients. What do you think that did for sales?
Finally, the long-term cost of not getting help. If you don’t do something because you don’t like it, or you do it poorly, it will negatively impact the sustainability and growth of your business. I’d rather shave my head with a cheese grater than do bookkeeping. Plus, I’m educated in graphic design, not bookkeeping. Meanwhile, my bookkeeper LOVES it and does a fantastic job. I did, however, learn to understand my books (see next paragraph).
If I didn’t invest the money in a coach to help me envision the company I wanted, figure out how to get there and then learn how to run it, I would’ve been stuck on a hamster wheel. I would have run Rapport or myself into the ground at great mental and financial expense.
You can’t draw blood from a stone, but if you can afford to offload any of the tasks you really should. You will free yourself up to earn more!
I Created This Beast, It Is My Burden
Many veterans would tell potential entrepreneurs to expect long hours, roller coaster finances, big risks, loneliness at the top and so on. But… the rewards! Why did you start it in the first place? To do it your way, be in control? To execute your profession better? To keep more of the money instead of slaving for the man?
Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. You don’t have to sigh and say that’s how it is. It’s taking control to build the business you want and get those rewards.
Why should you sacrifice sleep or family-time doing something you hate (and probably suck at) when you can pay someone who loves to do it? Why shouldn’t you ask an expert to help you build your dream by showing you options or keeping you on track? Why not pay someone to help mitigate risks so you can grow better?
You work hard and the fact that you started a business shows you have guts. You don’t need to sacrifice all the time. You don’t have to prove anything.
The Best Compliment Ever
My first boss, now mentor and friend, I admire because he built a variety of successful business, satisfying different passions. There’s another man I greatly respect who ran a business like mine for 33 years. Both of them told me they admired ME! They both said they could have gone further or with less pain if they had been as smart about asking for help. So what are you going to get help with next?
Faith Seekings is the founder of Rapport Communications and Design Inc., a full-service graphic design and marketing firm in Toronto.