Right now the web is awash with sites selling programs, webinars and ebooks on how to find your voice, follow your passion or create the perfect lifestyle.
We’ve worked with a lot of people and organisations and this is what we’ve discovered: if you create a safe space very few people have a problem dreaming big or expressing themselves. They have a problem navigating the legal complexities of starting their own company, doing their tax, getting development approval, affording public liability insurance, connecting with a market or paying for expertise they don’t have. And many people have trouble believing that they deserve to, or are able to, or can afford to, get out, make a ripple and do something passionately.
Sure, those things can be overcome, but just getting inspired to follow your passion won’t do anything about the practicalities. Which is why EveryVoiceCounts never works on programs or with people who only focus on one side of the story. The external barriers and internal barriers have to be addressed together or change will be superficial at best.
This is one of the reasons small groups of about three people tend to make more successful start-ups than those going solo. Those two other people keep you accountable and rooted in reality. If you absolutely can’t bear cold-calling to get your first few customers through the door maybe one of the other two can make that sacrifice. If you are constantly underselling yourself and your product one of your co-founders will pull you up. And if you find yourself unable to get out of bed in the morning, paralysed with fear because starting out on your own venture is hardly the smoothest path you could have chosen, sooner or later you’ll be found out.
So if you have read enough to know what your big dreams are and have spent several years perfecting your goals, approach and vision documents it is time to get yourself a team. Someone to cheer for you, someone to hold you accountable and someone to help you do the stuff you’re really bad at. And you probably won’t find all three of those in the one person. You may even have to pay for some of it. But it will be money well spent – if you need to put flyers out to tell people about your business and you would rather shrivel up and die than do that, someone who is happy to pound the streets for you might be all the investment you need to make to get your business off the ground.
Remember the way of water – if something is in your way just go around it.
And if the barrier in your way is so big it is creating a dam and you can’t just hire someone to go around it for you then get some help to figure out the best way around it.
So where do you find someone to help you with those big barriers, internal or external? They are all around you. But first you need to get an idea of what is standing in your way. When I find myself stalled, and it usually takes me a while of increasing frustration before I realise I am stuck, I get out a clean piece of paper and write up the top:
WHAT I WANT HELP WITH:
And then I list exactly, precisely, what I would like someone to teach me, show me, help me with or do for me.
Sometimes this fills a lot of paper, other times it turns out to be just one or two things. Often I see that some of the items are stuff I simply don’t enjoy but now that I’ve admitted they are stopping my whole enterprise I just get on with them. Other items are contingent on things I don’t have the expertise to do on my own so I need to focus on clearing that bottleneck by finding that expertise from outside myself. And then there are things I do not have time to do! Many of those get kicked off the priority list altogether while others change shape or go to someone else.
The list generally clarifies who you need to talk to next and because you have made it clear to yourself what your needs are, you tend to start finding solutions. This is why we say “to help someone, first listen to them”. Just being heard (even by a piece of paper) stops us from rehearsing how hard things are and focuses on what we can do about them.
In one case I realised I was becoming stressed about paying exorbitant amounts to our accountant and still having no clue how to even record expenses and income, let alone understand superannuation, GST, payroll tax and all the rest! As soon as I had written down precisely what help I needed I saw that maybe a book keeper would be better than an accountant. The following day I spoke to my neighbour and she mentioned her book keeper! For all I know she may have spoken about her book keeper for six months without me ever hearing because until I had written down what I needed help with I was not focused on finding a book keeper. Two days later my new book keeper came to our house and sat with me for four hours while we set up our company accounting system in a way completely tailored to my needs and understanding. I’m still no accountant but that barrier is gone. I know what to do and I know who to call for help.
So that’s your exercise for the day. If there is any area of stuckness, just write down what you need help with. Then go over the list and pick the thing that is going to make the biggest difference for the least amount of effort and break it down further – what is the first thing you need help with to move on that issue? Now get on with finding that help!