When you are running and scaling a small business, you are often surrounded by people but the irony is that you have nobody to talk to and nobody to listen.
Small business owners don’t know what they don’t know. It is often unchartered waters and you encounter challenges of a positive and negative nature on a daily basis.
Who is there when you want to vent?
Who is there to validate your ideas or challenge the status quo?
Who is there to talk to?
Well, I can tell you who it isn’t most of the time.
You can’t talk to your team about some of the challenges because they can’t help, the issues are too sensitive or you don’t want them to think you aren’t in control.
Your partner or family members are not an option because they don’t understand, don’t care or have their own problems to chat about.
And for most owners, there either aren’t other Directors or if there are, again, you don’t want them to think you are not in control.
Somebody to talk to
A couple of years ago I was sat 1-2-1 with a high growth client for a Mentoring session. Over the course of two hours he just talked and talked. I made a lot of notes and of course listened and asked the occasional question to enable him to go deeper.
At the end of a session, I usually recap what was discussed and agree the actions to be taken ahead of the next meeting.
I remember saying that I didn’t feel I had added sufficient value as there weren’t any actions to be undertaken.
He said, “Far from it, that it was a very valuable session, you listened to me as I have nobody else to talk to.”
Business Mentoring isn’t always about coming up with answers, being challenging or holding you to account. It is often about listening without judgement, with empathy and providing an outlet for the mentee to share their feelings and get stuff off their chest.
The old adage ‘we have two ears and one mouth and should use them in that proportion’ may work in some sales circles but I think the ratio when it comes to Mentoring is more like 4:1. Yes, 4:1.
The benefits to a small business owner of having somebody to chat to and who listens to them are as follows:
- Emotional support
- Venting and catharsis
- Clarity and self-reflection
- Problem-solving and brainstorming
- Validation and empathy
- Trust and rapport-building
Make sure that you have somebody in your corner that is independent and that you can chat to periodically, in a safe space with no judgement or agenda.
Having someone to talk to as a small business owner offers emotional support, validation, problem-solving capabilities, feedback, motivation, accountability, and opportunities for learning.
These benefits can contribute to the owner’s wellbeing, decision-making, personal growth, and overall success in running their business.