Unless you're Super(wo)man--and even if you are--you will find that if you try to be the smartest person in the room at all times, your company will crash and burn pretty quickly.
The brightest and most effective leaders know the exact opposite approach is better. Business leaders who have the most--not the least--help are those who will lead their businesses to success most reliably.
In my experience, being prepared well before you need help is key to running your business stress-free. Take the time today to identify who you need on hand, so that when the need arises, you're ready for whatever is thrown at you.
Who do you need?
As the CEO, you need to take care of your business and yourself--your whole self. So, the experts you need to have on hand fall into three key areas: work, life, and self-care.
Self-care? Yep! The life of a CEO can be extraordinarily stressful, so being open and honest about this and anticipating how you will handle the emotional side of your role is key.
Who exactly do you need in your "Rolodex?" Well, it's different for each CEO. For example, I am the CEO of a remote U.S. expat tax preparation company. So, my list of work experts includes a business coach, a lawyer who understands the dynamics of an international remote company, a human resources consultant, a web developer, and an SEO consultant.
Many people join mastermind groups to have a team of like-minded entrepreneurs or CEOs on hand to help them solve and brainstorm business issues as they arise. My list of life and self-care experts includes a yoga teacher, a naturopath, a house cleaner, a babysitter, and a personal trainer; they are all crucial for me.
However, for other CEOs, that list may be completely irrelevant. The key things here are being clear in advance as to who should be on your individual expert list and ensuring that you are thinking widely--beyond just business experts.
Are your experts up to the job? Here's how to vet them.
Here's where most people go wrong. For those you need only occasionally (and maybe hope never to need; no one anticipates needing a lawyer on short notice), it may be tempting to take the path of least resistance and find the fastest or easiest expert like a friend or a neighbor.
If you do this, when a true need arises, you will either get ineffective advice, thereby invalidating the entire idea, or not want to call on that person and end up in panic mode as you try to find an expert.
Your goal should be to look for "14 timers" and people you like and respect. If you don't feel comfortable calling that person at a time you need them, they are of no use to you.
That said, "14 timers" are people who have dealt with the type of problem you are facing 14 times before. In the book, Your Oxygen Mask First, author Kevin Lawrence argues this number effectively avoids you being anyone's guinea pig.
As they say, "cheap advice can be incredibly expensive." Lots of people will want to help, so make sure they genuinely have the expertise needed for your particular situation. If you're looking for a lawyer on an employment dispute, don't use a generalist lawyer who has only dabbled in employment issues. Go for the best.
For me, this framework has been incredibly helpful. Just stopping to think "Has this person actually encountered my type of problems numerous times before?" helps me to separate the true experts from those who might look good initially on paper.
Still need some convincing? Napoleon Hill, author of the famous book Think and Grow Rich, interviewed American industrialist Andrew Carnegie to learn what made him so successful. Carnegie credited the "sum total of the minds" of his business associates, which he termed a "master mind." Hill went on to interview hundreds of millionaires, and this theme arose over and over.
It wasn't merely individual skill that made the CEO or entrepreneur successful--it was the fact that they assembled a team of experts to expand their personal skill set and decision making. You, too, can use this strategy to your advantage.