The “Lone Ranger” Rides No More (Part I)

Have you seen the Lone Ranger lately? (You may never see the planned Lone Ranger film remake given that Disney pulled the plug last week due to the bloated 250 million dollar budget!)

Either way, I’m not talking about the western hero from yesteryear who would ride into town wearing a mask, round up all the bad guys, and then half an hour later rode off into the sunset with all the town folk feeling safe and happy.

Instead, I’m referring to the entrepreneur who exhibits a “Lone Ranger” mindset by trying to do EVERYTHING himself.  So sad, because this lonely soul could surround himself with competent and trusted business associates who will help him do more and be more than he can by working alone.

Let’s face it, most of us went into business for ourselves is so we can be our own boss— we want to make our own decisions and call all the shots.  After all, who could possibly do it better than us, right? And in many cases that’s true. But, when you take this independent, “I can do it all” mindset too far it slows your professional development and limits the growth of your company.

Listen carefully here:  To find true success you must build a network of people to help you a) avoid expensive mistakes in your business and b) grow as an executive.

This is a tough task!  Why?  Because you need to hire people who will tell you what you need to know- NOT what you want to hear. Here are a few suggestions on where you can find “straight talkers”:

First, consult your spouse. It doesn’t matter how much she or he knows about your particular business, she or he knows YOU. For that reason, your spouse can bring insights to your business decisions that you can’t get anywhere else. (And they obviously have a “vested interest” in your success!)

If you’re not married, talk with your “significant other.”  Or if you’re not in a long-term relationship, ask your parents. They’re probably not as dim as they look! And they probably know you better than you’re comfortable admitting. After you’ve tapped this intimate circle of advisors, expand out to others …

In the early stages of your business, your network should include your customers, suppliers, insurance professionals, an accountant, and maybe even some of your competitors. Depending on how long they’ve been in business and the successes they’ve enjoyed, these people can bring years of experience and vital information to you during this critical stage.

As your business grows, expand your network to include attorneys, bankers, other business people within your industry and/or community. And don’t forget to include capable outside industry consultants. (Now there’s a shameless promotion if I ever saw one!) If you haven’t done so already, join and participate in some community and industry organizations.

When your company is mature and really soaring your network likely will expand to include civic and community leaders, business leaders, and industry authorities. But, more importantly, the relationships you develop with the people in your network will deepen. Since you’ve gotten to know these people over the years, and they’ve gotten to know you, the insights you gain from them will become invaluable.

In my next SFS Instructor’s Blog post I’ll expand on this networking discussion and hammer you with why networking is so important.

Chuck Violand (more about Chuck)
SFS Instructor
CEO Violand Management Associates

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