Entrepreneurship certainly offers incredibly euphoric moments of joy, triumph and satisfaction. However, many honest entrepreneurs will also tell you that entrepreneurship can be scary, lonely and disappointing.
In down times, entrepreneurs have few places to turn--not because they don't have support from family, friends and employees, but because what they really need is support from people who truly understand what it's like to be solely responsible for the survival of a business. In fact, this need has given rise to a number of entrepreneur support groups, and I've seen firsthand that these groups can save founders from wallowing in doubt, fear and uncertainty.
However, I've also learned that although employees might not be able to empathize with an entrepreneur's burden, they can help in other surprising ways--that is, if the entrepreneur knows enough to ask them for help. To that end, here are 3 things your employees can do to make you a better entrepreneur:
1. Be direct and honest about your strengths and weaknesses
Some entrepreneurial ventures are run like a tyrannical monarchy, in which case there's a lot more groundwork to be done than is discussed here. But, for those entrepreneurs who are open-minded and team-oriented, making employees your sounding board may be exactly the right move to help you succeed.
Once you've found honest and intelligent people, allowing them to give you direct feedback on your strengths and weaknesses can be not only helpful, but downright cathartic. If you empower your people to be honest with you about what you're good at, without fear of retribution, you'll quickly find yourself shedding jobs to more capable team members, which will free you up to focus on more important strategic issues.
That, in turn, will make you a better leader and improve the efficiency of your organization as a whole.
2. Help you define the culture
While many entrepreneurs see themselves as the standard-bearer of culture, that's actually not a sustainable model. Instead, your entire team must be able to recognize, articulate and create your corporate culture, especially without your guidance. By empowering your people to carry the culture you put in place at the outset, you will both free yourself from this full-time job and create more engaged employees.
A little bit of time spent adding "culture-creator" to your team's roles and responsibilities will pay dividends down the road as the company (hopefully) outgrows you.
3. Understand and actively pursue the big picture
Sadly, I've seen many entrepreneurs horde their big-picture thinking, keeping their employees in the dark. Instead, successful entrepreneurs share the big, audacious dream with the entire team, and make everyone both engaged and accountable for achieving it.
If you're willing to share the big picture, help your people understand why it's important and empower them to help you pursue it, you'll create an entire crew team rowing towards your goal instead of a one-person canoe. As with most things in life, there is strength in numbers when it comes to growing an entrepreneurial venture.
All of these elements depend on one essential item: the quality of the entrepreneur. But, even open-minded, self-reflective entrepreneurs can sometimes forget to ask for feedback and assistance from their own team. I myself have had to learn the hard way that asking for help is a way for 1+1 to equal 3, where my business runs more efficiently and I get more free time to become an even better leader.
Ultimately, that's exactly the kind of math that makes me feel like an entrepreneurial hero.