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Are you alone?

This is a real­ly impor­tant post for me. It was because of the insights I am going to share here that I have endured mis­takes and tough times and I have nev­er real­ly failed…
 
When you have a busi­ness vision it is often times hard to share it with oth­ers. So most peo­ple end up being lone entre­pre­neurs. In the US there is some­thing called the syn­drome of the lone wolf, which is the guy that can only work by him­self.
 
This is one way of doing things. But I am going to argue that it is the least effi­cient and the most like­ly to fail.
 
When I was young I had a Hol­ly­wood imag­i­na­tion. I want to share one of the crazy thoughts I used to have with you…  I used to imag­ine what would hap­pen if the world was over… if there was no one left to build a car, to pro­duce elec­tric­i­ty, to pump water, to pro­vide heat­ing, etc.
 
Would you be able to build an engine? Would you be able to pro­duce elec­tric­i­ty? How about a fire?
 
We take a lot of this for grant­ed… so much so that we for­get that we are only where we are because of a very spe­cif­ic char­ac­ter­is­tic of the Homo Sapi­ens…. We are social. When we get togeth­er we defy math­e­mat­ics and we can pro­duce more than the sum of our parts. When we form a group we stand on each oth­ers’ shoul­ders and can reach fur­ther than any­one can imag­ine.
 
Now, one catch…. it may take a lit­tle bit more time. This is because when you are alone you can change direc­tions, you can be agile and nim­ble with­out a sec­ond thought… So in the­o­ry the time it will take you to accom­plish things will decrease. But in prac­tice, the sup­port of oth­ers, the abil­i­ty to bounce and share ideas, the skills to explain and share, can only be use­ful for suc­cess.
 
So how can we chose who we work with?
 
I would like to talk about two mod­els:
  1. Brain trust
  2. Part­ners
 
The Brain Trust is a group of peo­ple who you can rely on for sup­port, for eval­u­at­ing ideas, for find­ing solu­tions to strate­gic prob­lems, to advise and guide. Part­ners can also do a lit­tle of this, but their greater impact is on the oper­a­tion and tac­tics.
 
If you are going to pick a Brain Trust this is less com­plex than pick­ing part­ners. The idea is to assem­ble a group of peo­ple that you respect, that you can accept their crit­i­cism and who will pro­vide a more well round­ed approach so that you can increase your chances of suc­cess.
 
If you are pick­ing Part­ners it is a lit­tle more com­plex. Not only do you need to chose peo­ple who will be able to exe­cute and who you will respect, but there will be oth­er times when you will have to place your per­son­al and finan­cial well­be­ing on their hands. Most peo­ple when they first think of part­ners they always think of equal part­ners, this does not need to be the case…. you can always have a major­i­ty part­ner which helps.
 
So why peo­ple who are alone fail?
Well, let me give you one exam­ple… Let us say that you have a small busi­ness that you can do: you pro­vide account­ing ser­vices. What hap­pens to your busi­ness when you take a hol­i­day? What hap­pens to your busi­ness if your inter­net fails? What hap­pens to your busi­ness if you are sick? What would hap­pen if you want­ed to start a new mar­ket? Do you invest your time in mar­ket­ing or exe­cu­tion — if you do both… would your exist­ing client base suf­fer?
 
Can you see how, when you are alone, you are doomed to fail?
 
I would like you now to com­pare that with a com­bi­na­tion of the two mod­els I dis­cussed above. Let us imag­ine that you have 3 friends that you real­ly respect and they form your brain trust and you have anoth­er 2 part­ners. You have 52%  of the busi­ness and each one of your part­ners has 24%.
 
Alright, I am going to ask the same ques­tions as above and I want you to answer them in your mind… What hap­pens to your busi­ness when you take a hol­i­day? What hap­pens to your busi­ness if your inter­net fails? What hap­pens to your busi­ness if you are sick? What would hap­pen if you want­ed to start a new mar­ket? Do you invest your time in mar­ket­ing or exe­cu­tion — if you do both… would your exist­ing client base suf­fer?
 
When I placed myself in the shoes of this brave entre­pre­neur I felt like I had the sup­port of my Brain Trust… I could bring them my busi­ness plan for enter­ing a new seg­ment, they would poke holes, add val­ue and make the strate­gic move even more suc­cess­ful. My part­ners could hold the fort if I was sick or on hol­i­days and more impor­tant­ly, because they also own a por­tion of the busi­ness they have an extra incen­tive not to fail!
 
So as this year clos­es I would like you to have a think about your busi­ness­es con­sid­er if you should have one or both of these mod­els in your life too!

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