Bill Joy, the founder of Sun Microsystems, is credited with saying, “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people don’t work for you.”
For big, ego-driven corporations, that is often a painful saying. For us entrepreneurs, it is a daily reality.
When Do You Need Help from the Outside?
Early in my career, I would never ask for help. My thinking was that as a business I needed to be independent. If I were asked to provide a design that I had never done, I would take it on because, as my rationale went, at the end of the design I would know how to do something I had not done before.
And of course, the cost to learn this new design was astronomical because I was doing something I had never done and was not doing something I could easily be doing. Eventually, the reality of being an entrepreneur sunk in and I began to understand the importance of using outside help.
Outside Help Opportunities
The reality of being an entrepreneur is that you have limited staff, budget and time—all the time. With the expansive growth of business coaching and other related consulting businesses, it is now possible to outsource many of the typical activities that growing companies need.
First, low hanging fruit for tasks to be outsourced includes accounting, IT, human resources, and legal.
Second, companies also hire outside help to deal with specific elements integral to their business that make financial sense and are not part of the business’s trade secrets. Certain software developments and assembly mechanisms fall into this category
Finally, companies may hire qualified outside help to examine their business practices in whole or just project specific. Without question, it is helpful to have a fresh viewpoint look at your operation and provide an unbiased opinion. Maybe you have worked months on an advertising campaign and need a fresh perspective. Or, you have elected to have an outside agency review your business plan before you attempt to attract new investors.
When Do You Not Need Help from the Outside?
As a small business owner, it is your business. You cannot hire outside assistance to relieve you of knowing every contract, every projection, all your key employees, your marketing sources, and each of your clients. The business is yours and yours alone. If you are looking for investors, they want to invest in you and not your list of consultants. Consultants come and go, but you remain.
Keys to Outside Help
Just think for a moment what you are asking a consultant to do. They are to come into your small organization and, for a brief time, act as one of your team members. For them to be successful, the permanent team members need to trust the consultants, and the consultants need to trust your team.
That is not easy to accomplish.
The key to outside help being successful in helping your business is humility. They need to be prepared to approach their work assignment within your organization ready to listen and understand your staff, be open to your existing culture and practices, and structure their recommendations around helping your organization improve.
1 Peter 5:5 says.
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Equal to humility, you should expect the outside consultant to possess an outsized imagination. They need to look at your organization and visualize your business world quickly. Very few business organizations are identical to each other. Sure, businesses need to know what others in their industry do. But you are identified as your business, and your outside help’s job is not to make you look like everyone else but to make your business a better reflection of you.
1 Samuel 16:7 says.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Just as God does not look at the outward appearance of man, your outside consultant must not look at the outward appearance of your company. For your outside help to be truly valuable and helpful, they need to dig deep and see what you, as the owner and manager, cannot see.