Whether you are an entrepreneur building your business, or someone forging a new path within a larger organization, we can sometimes fall into the trap of trying to do it all ourselves. With experience, we learn to look at challenges more strategically and figure out when we need help to succeed.

In my “slightly younger” days, I used to run races a lot and cross-country courses were my favorite. In one particular race in the middle of winter, I lined up at the start line with fresh snow above my knees and drifts up to my waist. (OK, I know some are saying “Why would you do that?”) I took off in the lead as I usually did, ploughing through the snow and jumping over drifts, only to find myself so totally exhausted about one-third of the way through the race that I had to stop and walk. Everyone in the race passed me! Dejected, with frostbite setting into my toes I reluctantly started jogging along the course to try and keep warm. To my surprise, the course was much easier after everyone had tramped down the snow. I started running again, picking up speed, passing people, and eventually took the lead again. The same thing has happened a few times in my entrepreneurial journey. Here are some lessons learned that might help you avoid watching the competition fly by when you are exhausted and “walking” instead of leveraging the experience of others.

Build a Strategic Plan

Lay out a Strategic Plan to provide a clear benchmark for charting your course and establishing a way to assess business capabilities to achieve your objectives.

Assess the Capabilities of Your Organization

Use your Strategic Plan to honestly assess the capabilities of the organization to achieve your objectives and the skill gaps you need to address.

Stretch Your Budget

Early in the growth of a business or a new department, you may not have the funds available to acquire some of the resources you would like, so you may need to be creative to build or acquire skills and knowledge you need to succeed.

  • Take the right training courses – online options can be more cost effective and there are a lot of free resources available if you search carefully.
  • Build your network – find and connect with others who have followed or are on a similar path. If you know and respect the skills of an individual who is willing to act as your mentor, even better.
  • Join a mentoring group through your local Chamber or Industry Group.
  • Find an informal group with similar challenges who are sharing what they have learned.
  • Explore the availability of supports such as Business Accelerators, grants, cooperatives.
  • Use service providers for targeted efforts as the budget allows.

As an entrepreneur, we can often feel like we need to do everything ourselves. Usually, our ideas follow a similar path to others until we reach that fork where our ideas become unique. For the common part of the path that many others have already travelled, we need to leverage what they have learned so we are not exhausted physically, mentally, and financially by the time we get to the unique part of our journey. Understanding the power of working with and leveraging the knowledge of others is critical to your success.

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