Learning to Accept Help is a Key to Entrepreneurial Success

Joanne Tica, MATD
Entrepreneurship is an exciting and rewarding journey, but it can also be fraught with challenges and obstacles. That's why many entrepreneurs seek out mentors and advisors who can offer guidance, advice, and support. Mentors and advisors can provide valuable insights and help entrepreneurs avoid common pitfalls, but despite this, some entrepreneurs have difficulty accepting advice from experienced mentors. In this blog post, we explore the reasons behind this phenomenon and offer some strategies for overcoming it.

1. Ego
One of the most common reasons why entrepreneurs struggle to accept advice from mentors, advisors and peers is ego. Entrepreneurs are often highly driven individuals who have a strong sense of self-belief and a desire to succeed on their own terms. They may feel that they know best and that they don't need help or guidance from anyone else. This mindset can make it difficult for them to accept advice from mentors, even if that advice is based on years of experience and expertise.

To overcome this challenge, entrepreneurs need to recognize that no one has all the answers, and that seeking guidance from experienced mentors is a sign of strength, not weakness. By listening to and considering the advice of mentors, entrepreneurs can gain valuable insights and avoid costly mistakes.

2. Fear of Failure
Another reason why entrepreneurs may struggle to accept advice from mentors, advisors, and consultants is fear of failure. Starting a business is a risky endeavor, and entrepreneurs often put everything they have on the line to make their vision a reality. The fear of failure can be paralyzing, and it can cause entrepreneurs to become defensive when they receive advice that challenges their assumptions or suggests a different approach.

To overcome this challenge, entrepreneurs need to embrace the idea that failure is an essential part of the learning process. Rather than viewing failure as a reflection of their abilities, they should see it as an opportunity to grow and improve. By accepting well-developed advice from successful mentors, advisors, and consultants, entrepreneurs can hopefully reduce the risk of failure and increase their chances of success.

3. Lack of Trust
Trust is a critical component of any successful mentor-mentee or advisor-client relationship. Entrepreneurs who have had negative experiences with mentors, advisors, consultants, and peers in the past may be hesitant to trust new ones, even if they have years of experience and a proven track record of success. This lack of trust can make it difficult for entrepreneurs to accept advice, as they may question the motives or doubt the relevance of the advice.

To overcome this challenge, entrepreneurs need to take the time to find individuals who they trust and respect. This may involve networking with other entrepreneurs, attending industry events, or seeking recommendations from colleagues. Once they have found a trusted source of guidance, entrepreneurs should be open and receptive to their advice, even if it challenges some of their long-held assumptions.

4. Over-reliance on Personal Experience
Entrepreneurs are often passionate about their businesses and may have a wealth of personal experience that they rely on to make decisions. However, this personal experience can sometimes lead entrepreneurs to overlook valuable insights and advice from mentors, advisors, consultants, and peers. They may believe that their own experiences are more relevant or that their unique circumstances require a different approach that can work against them as they attempt to mainstream their product and service offerings.

To overcome this challenge, entrepreneurs need to recognize the limitations of their own experience and seek out individuals who can offer a different perspective. These professionals can provide valuable insights based on their own experiences and can help entrepreneurs see the bigger picture. By combining personal experience with the advice of others, entrepreneurs can make more informed decisions and increase their chances of success.

5. Lack of Confidence
Starting a business is a challenging and often overwhelming endeavor, and entrepreneurs may struggle with self-doubt and a lack of confidence. This lack of confidence can make it difficult for entrepreneurs to accept advice, as they may feel that they are not capable of implementing the advice or that their own ideas are not worthy of consideration.

Building confidence is an important aspect of entrepreneurial success. Here are some strategies for building the confidence of an entrepreneur:
1. Identify strengths and weaknesses: Identify your strengths and weaknesses by assessing your skills, knowledge, and experience. Focus on your strengths and work on improving your weaknesses.
2. Set achievable goals: Set achievable goals that are aligned with your strengths and interests. Achieving these goals will help you build confidence in your abilities.
3. Learn from past experiences: Learn from your past experiences, both successes, and failures. Use these experiences to inform your decision-making and to build confidence in your ability to overcome challenges.
4. Seek feedback: Seek feedback from colleagues, peers, and mentors. Feedback can help you identify areas for improvement and build confidence in your strengths.
5. Practice self-care: Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Practice self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, and spending time with loved ones. Taking care of yourself can help you feel more confident and capable.
6. Surround yourself with positivity: Surround yourself with positive people and positive experiences. Seek out supportive relationships and activities that help you feel good about yourself and your abilities.
7. Take risks: Take calculated risks and step outside of your comfort zone. Taking risks can help you build confidence in your ability to handle uncertainty and adversity.

By practicing these strategies, entrepreneurs can build their confidence and feel more capable of taking on challenges and achieving success in their businesses. Remember, confidence is a skill that can be developed over time with practice and perseverance.

Taking Advice from Experience
There are several examples of well-known entrepreneurs who have taken the advice of mentors, advisors, and consultants to improve their businesses.

Here are a few examples:

1. Mark Zuckerberg: The founder of Facebook sought the advice of Steve Jobs, the late co-founder and CEO of Apple, who advised Zuckerberg to focus on building a team of talented people rather than just on product development. Following Jobs' advice, Zuckerberg built a strong team and grew Facebook into the social media giant it is today.
2. Jeff Bezos: The founder of Amazon sought the advice of Ram Shriram, an early investor in Google and a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Shriram advised Bezos to focus on customer satisfaction, which became a guiding principle for Amazon. Bezos also sought the advice of renowned management consultant, Tom Peters, who encouraged Bezos to embrace experimentation and innovation, leading to the creation of Amazon Web Services.
3. Bill Gates: The co-founder of Microsoft sought the advice of Warren Buffett, the renowned investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett advised Gates to focus on building a strong brand and not to underestimate the power of competition. Following Buffett's advice, Gates built a strong brand and invested heavily in research and development, leading to the creation of new products and services.
4. Oprah Winfrey: The media mogul sought the advice of Maya Angelou, the renowned poet and author. Angelou advised Winfrey to stay true to herself and her values, which became a guiding principle for Winfrey's media empire. Winfrey also sought the advice of financial advisor Suze Orman, who helped her develop a sound financial plan for her business.

These examples demonstrate the value of seeking advice and guidance from experienced mentors, advisors, and consultants. Entrepreneurs who are open to feedback and willing to learn from others can gain valuable insights that can help them overcome challenges and achieve success in their businesses.

Practice Building Relationships
Here are some activities that an entrepreneur can practice to become more open to accepting advice from other experienced people:

1. Seek out mentors, advisors, and consultants: The first step to becoming more open to accepting advice is to seek out mentors, advisors, and consultants who have experience in your industry or field. Attend industry events, networking events, and conferences to connect with experienced professionals who can offer guidance and advice.
2. Listen actively: When receiving advice, practice active listening by paying close attention to what the other person is saying. Ask questions to clarify any points you don't understand and repeat back what you have heard to ensure that you have understood correctly.
3. Be open-minded: Be open to new ideas and perspectives, even if they challenge your assumptions. Recognize that others may have different experiences and insights that can be valuable to your business.
4. Practice empathy: Put yourself in the shoes of the person giving you advice and try to understand their perspective. Consider the advice from their point of view and how it can benefit your business.
5. Seek out constructive feedback: Practice seeking out feedback from trusted colleagues and peers. Ask for their thoughts on your ideas and be open to constructive criticism. Use this feedback to improve your business and become more receptive to advice.
6. Reflect on past successes and failures: Reflect on your past successes and failures and consider the role that advice played in those outcomes. Recognize that advice can be a valuable tool for achieving success and reducing the risk of failure.

Moving Forward
In summary, entrepreneurs can face difficulty accepting advice from experienced mentors, advisors, consultants, and peers due to various reasons including ego, fear of failure, lack of trust, overreliance on personal experience, and lack of confidence. To overcome these challenges, entrepreneurs must recognize the value of seeking guidance, embrace the idea that failure is a part of the learning process, build trust with their advisors, seek diverse perspectives, and work on building their confidence. By accepting advice from others, entrepreneurs can gain valuable insights and increase their chances of success.
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