“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do…”
Harry Nilsson wrote that lyric and Three Dog Night had a major hit with it in 1969. I think it’s a lyric that speaks strongly to many small business owners.
When so much depends on your performance as the owner of your business, it’s easy to start feeling isolated. You may one day discover that you no longer enjoy what you do and not even know exactly why.
You may just sense that you’re overworked, but that’s only the first domino that falls when you’re suffering from small business owner isolation. You’ll have your head down so much that it’s impossible to see when opportunity is coming your way. You’ll start to cut corners or hurry processes in ways that lower quality. This will even lead to having to redo work and that kills productivity.
Like a chronic illness, the symptoms will start to compound and as the isolation gets “baked into” your standard way of doing business, it will be more difficult to see a solution.
Here are three ways for small business owners to whip isolation, be more productive, and ultimately achieve far greater success.
- Establish an advisory board. Although this step should be taken before you open your doors, it’s never too late. You don’t want too many people on this board; you’ll never get clear advice. Three individuals with good business knowledge and skills would be about right. They don’t all have to be in your industry. People who can benefit your local network would be good, and also consider people who are strong in areas where you may feel you lack expertise.
- Get a mentor or coach. Your advisory board will meet on a quarterly basis, more or less. Contact with your mentor will be more frequent and probably focus in different areas. A good mentor will not only give you business insights, he or she will give you insights into your personal leadership style and challenge you to grow and improve. To make a sports analogy, your mentor is the field coach while the advisory board members are the executives in the offices.
- Consider a partner and/or learn to delegate. Sometimes it’s best to have a partner who brings strengths to your team that you lack. Often today tech gurus will partner up with marketing experts to create a winning organization. If you don’t feel a partnership is best, then just learn to delegate. Bring people on board who can fill out your team.
Stock prices have recently experienced a dramatic bull market. However, if you didn’t have money invested in it, you gained nothing. Think about your time as your “investment.” If you can’t invest it in growth activities, you’ll never enjoy a “return on your time.” Delegating frees you up to make those investments of your time. You can’t enjoy a return on anything you never invest.
If you follow these strategies to beat owner isolation, you’ll find it much easier to build a company that is better able to run on its own and not demand every hour of your day just to keep the doors open.