Recently I facilitated a seminar for women business owners with turnovers in excess of $1 million. They had all started their businesses as sole traders, and grown them into the larger operations they had today.
I love being part of a gathering of like minded women, whether their businesses are big, small or just a sparkle in their eye. The excitement, and commitment to creating something out of nothing is energising and inspiring!
At the seminar, as their plans for scale, global expansion and eventual exits were discussed, it became clear that they still shared a common concern with buisness owners of any size. Even though they had crossed significant thresholds in their businesses, they still felt lonely at the top.
Who could they talk to about cash flow, staffing issues, deal negotiations, finding new sources
of funding etc etc? Some of the issues were too delicate to discuss with staff, they no longer wanted to bother family and friends, and sometimes they needed space to throw ideas around to bring them to life.
Being ‘lonely at the top’ is a common phenomena whether you are just starting your business and have no staff or you have been leading one for 15 years with 125 staff. Wherever you are in your business growth, you need support.
Without support, you may feel isolated, as you feel no one really understands you or your business.
Or maybe you will procrastinate over an important decision because you haven’t had the opportunity to talk about it thoroughly and review all the options. So you and your business stay stuck.
With support, your network can grow as you meet people who can connect you with others that ordinarily you would have no access to.
With support your thinking can be stretched, your horizons enlarged and opportunities open up to you.
Importantly, you start to feel as if you are not the only person in this situation, and you no longer have to go it alone.
Support can come in many different forms, depending on who you are as an individual, the stage your business is at, what your specific issue may be and how much time you are willing to commit to it.
Here are a range of different support options for you to consider:
A like minded business owner at a similar stage to you, who can confide in, brainstorm with and support each other.
Business Networking Groups
There are so many different ones available, and some will suit you, and others won’t. Some are very formal and structured, requiring high commitment, others are more about the connection and conversation you make with the members. A quick google for business networking groups will come up with a long list of options for you.
Engaging with a coach or mentor to achieve specific goals can lift the pace in your business compared to doing it by yourself. A good coach will give you a sense of accountability, stretch your thinking and help your discover tools and processes to make your business more efficient. I employ a coach every other year, and always my business grows as a result.
These are a small group of business owners bought together every month vitrtually or in person to work on their business. They will share issues, and everyone in the group helps them find a range of solutions to that issue. These groups work very well as you have the wealth of the knowledge and experience of the other group members to call upon. An added bonus is the accountability to complete actions committed to in between sessions to move your business forward.
As you become larger, and want to expand, do you know how to do it? Or as I ask my clients, do you know what you don’t know? Selecting a board of advisors who have specific experience and expertise where you don’t, and where you need it to expand will be hugely beneficial to you and your business. Not only will they share their knowledge with you to grow your business, their guidance and contacts will be invaluable.
Governing Board – Board of Directors
As you take in investors and their funding, you will be required to have a formal board. The board of directors is a body of elected or appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of a company or organisation. Like an advisory board, they will have relevant experience and connections.
We all need support. And as our business grows and evolves, so too will the type of support we require. If you are feeling lonely at the top running your own business, chances are you need to get support, now.
I’d love to know what’s worked for you!
Please share below in the comments section what support you have had in the past and how it’s enabled you to grow.