How To Ask For Help

How to ask for help CC wonderlane How To Ask For HelpAs an entrepreneur you probably feel like a failure if you have to ask for help. It’s not true. It’s actually a sign of strength.

We can’t do everything well, and the point comes when we hit our limits. Asking for help is the acknowledgement that someone out there can do a better job, or has an answer we need.

This post is part of a Startup Edition series on stress and work/life balance

As the startup founder you’re in charge of public relations, sales, recruiting, board meetings, product development, accounting, strategy and a whole lot else. Even with a team there’s more to do that any one person can manage. It’s not because you want to do all these things, but because they have to get done. Time and money are scarce. If you don’t step up, it could be the end, you think. But stepping up to too many things can also be a recipe for disaster.

We all need help sometimes, but it won’t come to us unless we ask.

How to ask for help

I mentioned the topic of this weeks’ group essay to Willo O’Brien, a startup founder life coach and all-around inspiring figure. Willo “Inspires creative sustainability in life and business,” which means she helps startups and creative activators stay in love with what they do, while doing what they love. She even offers eCourses on the subject. And it was Willo who inspired the title of this blog post.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Some of us struggle with organization, public speaking, writing or meeting deadlines.

There are people whom we know who do these things really well. Rather than pretend we don’t have problems, reaching out to those  enables us to stop the problems from getting worse.

Part of asking for help is being “helpable.” Start by identifying your problem areas, and visualizing the problem being no longer existing. Once you know what the problem is, and you can imagine life with it solved, you make it easy for someone who is an expert to help you reach your goal. As sympathetic creatures we want to help people whenever we can, but it’s your responsibility to simplify the process.

Dont be embarassed to ask for help CC poetprince How To Ask For Help

Don’t be embarrassed to ask

One of the thrilling parts of being an entrepreneur is devising creative solutions to problems. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. But this can come at a cost. “Kluging” together a solution instead of asking for help can hurt you down the road.

“Features are like having sex,” 500 Startups founder Dave McClure says.”Make one mistake, and you end up having to support it for life.” Rushing a solution to a one-time problem instead of asking for help could become an intractable part of your company.Remember what Dave McClure says the next time you think you have all the answers, and are afraid to ask for help.

While the entrepreneurial journey is about cultivating new strengths, and developing new skills, know where you’re likely to need help so when problems appear on the horizon you know who you can go to for help. Trying to figure everything out on your own isn’t a strength, it’s stubbornness.

“Life is more important than your startup and there is always another day,” Mark Suster said recently on his blog “Your reputation won’t suffer if your business does. You can evolve.”

“But all my friends have their own problems”

I told Willo that one thing stopping me from reaching out to friends is that I know they’re dealing with crises in their own lives. Two of my closest friends are currently dealing with marital strife, and another is coping with the life-threatening illness of a child. Certainly their problems trump my own, I said. Wouldn’t it be obnoxious to ask them for help? Not so, Willo said.

“They’d probably like to have the chance to think about someone else’s problems besides their own,” she said.

Just because you have problems, and other people have problems, doesn’t mean you can’t ask. If people are in too deep, they may not be available to offer you assistance. But there will be times when taking on someone else’s strife is just the distraction a person needs from his or her own calamities.

Asking for help opens doors

Finally, people don’t know you need help if you don’t say anything. While it’s true that people have their own issues to deal with, keeping everything bottled up solves exactly nothing.

Asking for help where it’s needed can open the doors for collaboration, partnership and can reconnect you to those with whom you’ve lost touch. The first step is up to you.

This post is part of a Startup Edition series on stress and work/life balance

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