Thinking we need to do it all, know it all, and ace it all is one of the biggest misunderstandings we need to move past in order to take our companies to the $1 million mark and beyond. In fact, research has shown that the surest indicator of success in business is not the leader’s business track record, the product, the cash on hand, or the industry; it is the leader’s ability to set a goal and drive her team toward that goal. That’s it. Of course, to make that work, you also need a great team.
I have a favorite metaphor for this that comes from one of my favorite cities: Paris. When I lived in Paris after college, I often rode my bicycle past the famous cathedral of Notre Dame. This Cathedral (which means “Our Lady” in French) is known for its detailed facades and iconic gargoyles. But what is most notable to me are its 28 exterior supporting arches (the architectural term for these is “flying buttresses”). Those visible supports do not detract from Notre Dame’s beauty. No one ever says, “Nice cathedral. Too bad it needs all those flying buttresses to stay up.”
I decided to take inspiration from Notre Dame for one of my mantras as a businessperson — I would have as many “flying buttresses” as I needed to succeed. Asking for help sounds like a simple thing to do, but many business owners are more like the Eiffel Tower in this regard. Where Notre Dame is an ode to teamwork, the Eiffel Tower is the ultimate steely solo flyer.
The ability to ask for help is an area where we women may have a huge advantage over men, one that we should nurture in ourselves and in our team. In order to get my business to the million dollar mark I had to seek help from peers, coaches and mentors. If you’ve got a solid structure in place, that’s great – if not, here are some tips to find the buttresses that will hold you up and help you soar.
How to Find Your Buttresses:
- Join a professional organization for entrepreneurs like Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) or EO Accelerator, the program for up-and-coming businesses; or find another entrepreneur-focused organization to join.
- Join a shared workspace where you can trade best practices with other entrepreneurs.
- Create an Accountability Group with other entrepreneurs or friends. Meet once a month and share your 30-60-90 day goals and hold each other accountable for meeting them.
- Contact your local Small Business Office, Levo League or the National Women’s Business Council to find resources and connect with other entrepreneurs.
- Apply to be in an Accelerator – Accelerators are short-term programs in which an entrepreneur trades a usually small (under 10 percent) amount of equity for strategic help and mentoring. These accelerators are mainly for tech businesses, and you must apply and get accepted. The web site Seed.db.com has a list you can search by city.
In the meantime, you can start right now by making a list of people you know who might be able to be among your flying buttresses. Do you have a friend who is a lawyer and can help review contracts? A family member who is an entrepreneur you can ask for advice on scaling up your company? Access to a professional organization where you can meet regularly with other business owners?
Until next time,