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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Get By With a Little Help From Your Friends

  1. (n) A person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture.
  2. (n) A person who doesn't like to admit they need help.

As I've recently studied and made note of my target market (entrepreneurs) I've discovered and confirmed with colleagues and partners that the traditional entrepreneur doesn't like to admit that they need help. This, almost to the extent that they are fearful of acknowledging they are not knowledgeable in a certain area.

For example, a business owner becomes slow paying on a bank loan. Maybe they got too deep in a contract and cash flow tightened up, or an economic shift left them drying up. I rarely see a business owner in this position come running to all of their friends and neighbors saying "Hey, I could really use some help. You see, I'm about ready to lose everything I've spent the last 7 years working for and, shucks I just don't know what to do next. Got any ideas?" Instead I see business owners try desperately to hide their problems. They talk like things have never been better, or at most say things like "I'm covered up, things are really busy." Implying that they just seem stressed to the point of calling the suicide hot line because they are so incredibly busy, which in the end is a good problem anyway.

The cause is psychological. They depend on themselves and haven't learned how to depend on another, or they are afraid of receiving help because it will make them look weak. I'm sure Freud would say it has something to do with their mother not breast feeding them long enough, but what ever the cause, the result is often times failure.

Trying to market a free service to the entrepreneur in this situation has become a bit challenging. How do you instantly earn the trust of the individual who needs, but on the surface doesn't want your help? Maybe this is all part of natural selection as Darwin described it. Survival of the fittest. If you possess the trait that allows you to ask for help, your chances of survival increase. If you don't, you most likely fail.

My suggestion is to make sure you don't become a coyote who wildly chases a road runner without the foresight to see the curve in the road and runs off the cliff because he didn't ask for any help along the way.