Business can be lonely, but "no one ever had an idea that wasn't improved by talking it through with someone." - Gemma Teed
We’ve all had those days where nothing goes right, where your creativity has hit the wall, or you just can’t figure out a solution to a recurring problem. It’s normal. It’s also surmountable. Having a solid sounding board, a trusted advisor that you can share the wins and the challenges can really come into its own.
Bottom line – we’re not hard-wired to be solitary creatures, (despite what Billy Idol says) and there can be a real sense of professional isolation and loneliness for people with their own businesses, particularly those that are a business of one. We recently came across some research by Harvard Business School where professional isolation was perceived as a legitimate challenge to the ongoing prosperity of a business. Beyond the financial prosperity, this study showed that professional loneliness can lead to stress, anxiety and burnout and even psychological trauma. Not good!
For small business owners without an internal squad to lean on, an external sounding board or mentor can provide expert advice, bring a sense of clarity to situations and also supply reassurance during tumultuous times. Sounding boards can provide perspective and an opportunity for business owners to get out of their own heads and the day-to-day running of their business and test potential ideas. Some small business owners use these types of relationships to troubleshoot new product or marketing ideas, while others use them as problem-resolution platforms.
Your chosen sounding board should have a variety of purposes, all of which will centre around making your job as a business owner, simpler. A professional external sounding board will:
· Give you the space to bounce ideas around without judgement
· Provide a level of creativity to your thoughts
· Listen to your concerns and ideas
· Examine your decisions and provide clarity
There are a variety of pathways you can choose to take when it comes to seeking out a sounding board for your business.
Not all sounding boards are equal, so it is imperative to shop around before putting your business in the hands of others.
Look around your immediate circle and see if you feel that those in your circle will have your best interests in listening to how you want to build your small, strategic and successful business and have the expertise to advise you on your thought processes without fear or favour. But, we also suggest external, third-party mentors may be a better way to go, as it removes any emotional connection from your interactions.
Look at your accountant, bookkeeper, financial advisor, legal support team, business or industry association and business coaches – these professionals have decades of experience in business consultancy behind them, all around supporting you to succeed. They will provide you with industry expert advice on how to manage various aspects of your business.