Follow the easyJet founder’s lead if you want the best business advice
Richard Branson wrote a great article recently about ‘The art of asking for advice’. In it he mentions a talk he once gave in Greece during which a man in the audience asked at least half the questions that came up that day, really taking on board the answers.
It turned out that this man was Stelios Haji-Ioannou who later became the founder of easyJet. From the way he had asked those questions, Richard Branson knew he had the drive to succeed!
In my experience women who have easy access to trusted support (and answers to their questions), make better-informed decisions when overcoming challenges like when and how to grow the business or when to take on help.
But sadly the reality seems to be that most female business owners deal with business issues and decisions alone.
The trouble is, when you’re feeling stuck, it is really hard to get an objective view of your situation. Asking yourself the right questions and finding the right answers isn’t always easy! So asking pertinent questions and being open to answers from people who may have ‘been there and done it’ themselves, is vital in business!
What can happen when you talk to the wrong people?
Being well connected and belonging to online communities and offline networking groups can make it much easier to get access to good business support. Some groups even encourage members to be open. They expect them to be there for each other and offer advice when needed.
But raising your issue in a non-confidential environment can occasionally backfire. After discussing what I consider a sensitive issue at a networking meeting, I once overheard details being shared with others afterwards. Inappropriate, but sadly not an isolated incident!
In a society where sharing has become common-place, some people don’t seem to consider the implications of over-sharing, especially in social media. What may start as an innocent internet discussion may end up showing you in the wrong light and could damage your reputation!
So how do you know it’s safe to discuss your business issues?
In my experience, constructive help and advice will be offered when the right people with the right intentions, values and beliefs join forces. When approaching a potential mentor with your question or taking part in a ‘business clinic’ as part of a workshop or a networking meeting, I would always ask myself a few questions before sharing your challenge or issue:
- Does the mentor or facilitator have the right business experience to discuss my issue?
- Can I truly trust that whatever I share is dealt with respectfully? That confidential topics are dealt with appropriately?
- And if sharing in a group, are the other attendees a good match for my business?
- Do they really care about helping each other?
If in doubt, create your own support group!
I’m sure that getting good advice from Richard Branson gave the easyJet founder a head start. So next time you have a question and don’t know the answer, make sure you look for someone with the right experience and approach to help you find it.
The above questions should help you to choose the right forum too so you can get answers that will actually move your business forward. Always remember, sharing is safer and more effective in a trusted environment!
If you can’t find the right place for you, why not select a few experienced colleagues you trust and form your own Mastermind or ‘support group’? When you bring the right people together who truly care about helping others, magic can happen. Sharing experiences, whether good or bad, as well as trying to see other people’s problems through their eyes, helps people to understand each other rather than judge them by their problems. And wouldn’t it be great too to have your own confidential forum where you can ask time-sensitive questions as they arise?
If you don’t want to create your own group, you can always come and join one of my small online circles. They provide confidential business support to help you when you feel “stuck and cannot see the way through a particular issue.”
Vanessa Redgrave once said “Ask the right questions if you’re going to find the right answers.” Why look for the right answers on your own when you can do it with people who can also help you to ask the right questions?”
About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced business owner, coach and mentor. She helps passionate midlife solopreneurs who feel stuck to get the clarity, drive and focus that will make their micro-enterprise successful and profitable.