As an entrepreneur, one of our primary jobs is to become excellent researchers. The thing about creating something from nothing, about building a business where none existed before, is that there will always be myriad unknowns, so learning how to independently search for answers if a vital skill.
Startups don't come with ready-made worksheets, much less ready-made answers. This is true even for startups participating in accelerators or programs that include training.
When it comes to founders searching for answers, there often is no right answer - if there is an answer to be found at all. Conclusions for most of the questions that arise while building a business only come as a result of difficult research followed by trial and error.
The most effective founders and CEO's understand that no one else on their team or within their network is there to serve as a personal rolodex or wikipedia, and they fiercely protect the time and focus of the rest of their team, only tapping those resources when independent efforts have been exhausted.
This is not to say that we should struggle with an answer when someone else's expertise or experience could easily provide the needed information. But true leadership has no place for learned helplessness, laziness, or treating someone else's time or brain as less valuable.
An effective CEO does her own research. She reads and reads and reads - and then reads some more. She asks herself questions which lead to more questions - and she keeps researching until she believes she has arrived at an effective answer or is at the place where it is prudent to reach out for additional help from her network.
And if a founder is part of a team, he doesn't interrupt any of the rest of his team from their work to answer questions that he can find out on his own. He does his own research before bringing it to his team to get input before moving forward.
Entrepreneurs need to become experts within their industry, and that won't happen if we don't problem-solve, research, get creative and do as much of the groundwork as possible on our own before floating our plan by anyone else for feedback.
The onslaught of unknowns within entrepreneurship can leave us feeling inadequate - and living in that state is certainly not for everyone. If we discover that we simply do not enjoy any part of the uncertainty and stretching of our own skills, knowledge and creativity, then entrepreneurship may not be a good fit. That is a completely valid conclusion.
But if we thrive within the challenge of figuring out the answers where none are obvious by being scrappy and creative and challenging ourselves to learn about things that we never knew we'd need to - if we actually enjoy that?
Well, then, for us, being an entrepreneur is one exciting roller coaster experience after another - and for many, it's addictive.
One of the best parts of learning to do our own legwork before asking for help is when we realize that we're far more comfortable standing on our own two feet and are more confident in our decisions.