Comparing Notes

Running a business can be a funny old job. In many respects you are surrounded by people with ideas and opinions on how it should be done, in other respects you are completely and totally alone: the final decision rests with you, always.

Over the years, and from time to time, I’ve invested my time in consulting business mentors, business coaches, life coaches and a variety of other people who have sought to help me see the wood from the trees. Each and every single one has given me essential tools and skills to become better at evaluating situations, approaching decisions and being more effective.

However there’s one source of advice and support that always stands out from the crowd and I was reminded of this recently. Both I and a fellow business owner are working on leadership development (separately) with the same coach. We started speaking to each other about the process, and it was startling to find out how similarly tough we were finding the process. It was challenging both of us to look deeply at our own behaviours and long-held beliefs and, if they were deemed unhelpful, dislodge them. It felt reassuring to know we were not alone in feeling challenged.

But it made me think about peer support and that, as business owners, we often overlook its value in business. Coaching is one specific tool for improvement, but time spent business mentors and other business owners has also been invaluable in giving me the tools needed to grow my business.

And we forget, as we get older, that copying is one of the most effective methods of learning…. it’s how we learned language, and behaviours and, well, almost everything we know! So how come, when it comes to running a business, we try to do the exact opposite and make it all up by ourselves?

Because of the nature of my job I am privileged to know a lot of business owners and, through years of networking I know many, many more. We all face the same challenges, daily. It doesn’t matter what our business is. It doesn’t matter what our industry is. We all want to grow our business and, with growth, comes inevitable challenges.

But sometimes business owners can be so guarded. We’re so caught up in being “competitive” that we forget there is more to be gained by everyone if we share. Call it Kaizen, call it being social, call it whatever you want but some of the things I’ve discovered, simply by comparing notes with other business owners about how they do things, has led to developing a stronger team, a better service and a more robust business.

So, the next time you’re with a fellow business owner, don’t just have the “so, how’s business?” chat we all inevitably lead with. Why not ask “what’s your biggest challenge right now?” and see what happens…. you never know, together you might just change the world.