This is quite a statement, but it is one of the most common themes we encounter when mentoring our clients.
The loneliness we’re discussing here is not the type you have when you have no friends to invite over for a braai, but more the type where you have nobody to openly discuss your business concerns and fears with.
Entrepreneurs are by their very nature positive and energetic people, it’s probably why they are able to overcome the many obstacles that often litter their path to success. They are constantly encouraging staff and clients to achieve greatness with very little, yet they themselves have nobody doing this for them.
It’s not that they are unwilling to discuss their concerns and fears, it is that in a larger enviroment staff members have a network of like minded colleuges to discuss their daily frustrations with- the IT system that just wont work, the office teaspoons that go missing daily and of course the mutual dislike for the boss. The SME enviroment generally means that you are the CFO, GM, CEO and tealady all rolled into one neat little package called an ‘entrepenuer.’ As a result, when the IT system collapses, invoicing is backlogged and the tea is served cold, you have no one to empathise with you aside from the reflection in the mirror.
It is for this very reason, we recommend that entrepreneurs begin forming networks with other likeminded entrepreneurs, with whom they can discuss the issues they are facing. It’s important that the members of your network are from as many other industries as possible. This diversity, will also be its strength as there will be as many insights as differing points of view.
Even if your network does not have ready answers for your concerns, we have found that the very act of verbalising your issues and hearing you are not alone in experiencing them is often the catalyst to you solving the problems yourself.
“Great idea, but how do we begin?” I hear you all saying. Well it’s fortunately easier than it sounds:
•Firstly identify those friends who already own their own business and select two or three who’s advice you trust.
•Have a chat with them about creating a network and why you think it is important.
•Get together informally once or twice a month and discuss the problems you are facing.
•If you are getting positive results, suggest to them that you each bring another friend to the next chat.
• Do this as often as you like, until you have a network that fulfils your objectives.
• It is important however to keep it informal, keep it fun. It shouldn’t feel like work!
Once your network I firmly established, it might be time to invite one or two of the members to sit on your Board of Directors. This is clearly a more formal arrangement and will have to comply wth the Companies Act, so ensure these are people who not only act ethically, but who are in a position to add value to your business.
At Phezulu we do more than just help clients network, we are your “one stop SME shop”, assisting with everything from Accounting, Business Management, BEE, Consulting and Company Registration to Payroll and Mentoring.
For more information please visit our website www.phezulu.net or give me a call 010 003 8558