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:
- Brain trust
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 minority 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!