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You Can’t Help Everyone

Date - 01 May 2016/ Category - Facts Of Life
Facts of life

After a few years of working for myself, I felt like I needed to give something back. That doesn’t mean that I was widely, or even remotely successful, but I just felt that I needed to be there for other people that were trying to start out on their own.

Running your own business is a lonely place to be. I made a tonne of mistakes (in part what this book is all about) and I thought that maybe I could impart some wisdom onto others and in turn save them the hardships that I had faced.

What I didn’t realise was that not everyone was like me. Not everyone was committed to the end result, in fact a lot of people just liked the idea of having their own business rather than the realities it created.

But those people aside there have a been a few occasions where I felt for one reason or another that I would go out of my way to help people, and these were because they fitted the following tried and tested rules.

1. Do not under any circumstances offer advice to a family member or friend. Steer clear, be hugely positive and don’t get involved.
2. The person you’re helping asked for my help and not the other way around.

Yet on each occasion the success the person I was helping out ultimately went on to have varied widely, despite them following the same pathway to setting up their business as I wanted them to go on.

It took me a few goes to work out why they varied but in the end it was obvious. Looking back it’s actually so obvious that I regard myself as a fool for having missed the signs, yet that’s life I am afraid. You can become so passionate about helping others that you forget to ask, are they helping themselves.

I will give you a specific example or two to try to illustrate why you can’t help everyone.

I was approached by a work colleague that wanted to set up their own cycling company. I took them out for coffee and promised to help with their brand identity and website, along with offering some lead generation advice.

I stuck to the principles and ideas laid out in this book, in that I said lead generation and the idea are more critical than your sales ability and tried my best to poke and prod them towards success.

Yet the strangest thing happened. While they were facebooking and tweeting over their idea or getting photos made, I was slaving away on a website for them, A bespoke design that would do everything they wanted, but whenever I asked for information e.g. products or these photos, I’d get met with a blank face.

In the end, one day the guy turned round and said he’d decided to use a different website, simply because he felt it looked more like the one he wanted. Fair enough I thought, and I walked away to let him carry on his own ideas.

On reflection then I started to wonder why he had put so much effort into facebook and nothing into the website project that would have actually generated cash. It’s obvious now but at the time I kept giving him the benefit of the doubt. The reality is, he wasn’t paying for it, so who cared.

The problem with lots of “entrepreneurs” is that they do the things they like, and ignore the things they really need to do, especially when someone else is doing them for them.

I have a few example of this stored in my head now, one was a swimming teacher that wanted my help with facebook, but every time we agreed the next steps it took weeks for her to do anything because she wanted me to do it.

Another was with a builder who after having a website and new logo made for them, continued to only post their completed work on their own private facebook page, despite having a work page too!

Sometimes the truth is, people want to ask for help but don’t actually want to do anything different themselves.

Because we’re nice people and we want to help, we go to extreme and unnecessary lengths to help others who don’t actually appreciate it which creates a distraction from the work that we need to do in order to put food on the table.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t offer to help others, but if you do there are some basic principles that you need to follow.

Chapter Summary:

• Don’t employ or help friends/family unless you have to – just be super positive.
• Only help those that ASK you for help.
• Make them do the work, don’t just dive in. If you can’t get any traction then you know not to waste your time.

Read our next blog post “How to survive in a post manufacturing world”.