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How to ask for help

~ by Alan W

We all need to tap into a source that helps us step outside of ourselves, to help us tackle a problem or reflect from a different perspective. We are drawn to some people who just have the ability to impart just the right perspective at just the right time and in just the right dose. We call them by many names: mentors, coaches, guru’s, advisors, coaches, confidants, etc. Sometimes they are strangers, other times acquaintances, many times professional service providers or colleagues or connections. Being a creative entrepreneur brings its own set of challenges and no one is exempt from the very need for guidance, a soundboard or simply a unique viewpoint to help us on our journey. We can approach help in different ways, so play to the needs of you as the creative entrepreneur and that of your business to find the right source of help, in the right moment.

Look inward: Self help

When stuck on a problem and in need of help, take the time to write down a good yet short description of the problem before reaching out to a mentor. Highlight the context, the problem, the options and thoughts on each. Make it as concise as possible so as to not waste their time. Before sending it to a mentor/s, imagine what they will say. Then update what you wrote to address some of the obvious points in advance. I think about what they have said in the past. Think about what you have learnt from them in the past. Then, you may realise you don't need to bother them because the answer is now clear. You might email them to thank them for their continued inspiration. Truth be told. You may never speak to any of your mentors. They may never even know they are your mentors. And perhaps they don't even know you exist.

Look beside you: Peer help

Ever laid out your business challenges keeping you up at night to your friends or family? Met with a blank stare and some sincere but (sadly) unhelpful advice? Fact is, unless they have walked in your shoes, they are almost always far from understanding your challenges, despite their avid support of you and your entrepreneurial quest. Look sideways and you’ll find those who have walked in your shoes. Some are dealing with the same challenges, and serve as effective soundboards and ideators for problem resolution as they can relate. Others may have overcome a similar challenge to yours and deliver answers on a silver platter! Either way, when we reach out to those who can truly empathise, we know true help is in reach. Better yet, you find yourself in a position to help peers too, being the giver not the taker always results in newfound learning for your business in the process.

Look in front of you: Professional help

Sometimes, our business will require expert perspective to solve more complex challenges. Knowledge holds great power and tapping into expertise through professional wisdom and perspective is key. Being a creative entrepreneur does not mean you are jack of all trades, master of none. Quite the opposite, you have hopefully found your niche area of expertise and are mastering it. For other areas outside of your expertise (business, finance, operations, connections, growth hacking, etc.) you may need professional help through advisors, coaches and mentors. The mindset required when reaching out for such help is one of investment into one’s potential. Think value rather than cost. The propensity for business growth and prosperity in them aiding your challenge resolution.

Setting ego’s aside to acknowledge the need for help is the first step. Follow through either through self, peer or professional help (or ALL three!) is the next. It’s exciting! It can only mean growth.

Work with Alan W

"Solving niche challenges founders face”.

Illustrator: Lisa Williams (Instagram: @artist_llw)


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