Asking for Help…

Often one of the most important lessons we learn as business owners, innovators, and leaders is how and when to ask for help.

In 2001, I was VP of Global Supplier Contracts at Avnet, Inc. a Fortune 500 global distributor of electronic components and computers.

I had an idea for a new kind of business and took the idea to Avnet Chairman and CEO, Roy Vallee. We discussed the potential benefits to the company and what I wanted to do to make it happen. He told me to “…take the idea and run with it. Take it as far as you can and come back to me if you need help.” There are 3 components to this advice:

1) develop new ideas;

2) plan and take action;

3) ask for help.

At the time, for me, #3 was the MOST important. Up to that point, I had done everything for the project on my own. To make it viable, I had to find the people and resources that I lacked and get them to be part of the solution. A year later, Avnet decided that the time was not right to proceed with the project. But I was not ready to give it up.

So, I  took Roy’s advice and asked for help.

First I asked Avnet’s permission to take some of the ideas I had developed and create my own business. They said yes.

Then I looked for and found the best people and resources to partner with to build that business. They said yes too.

The result, CorePurpose, Inc. has been supporting other businesses in their journey along the growth path since July of 2002. Our whole business is built around having the right resources and knowing how to get help when you need it.”

Applying the Lesson

For many of us, asking for help is not an easy thing to do.  Many still believe that asking for help makes you appear weak or out of control.  Contrary to this belief, asking for help at the right time and for the right reasons is NOT a sign of weakness, but rather can be a sign of confidence, strength and savvy resource management.

Few organizations or projects succeed without some form of assistance today – be it leadership, financial, supply chain, staffing, technology resources, or a myriad of other needs.  Interestingly, the strategic process we go through in developing our program or project can also be a great process to follow when determining how to go about finding the right help at the right time.

Develop new ideas

Look at each step of your current strategic plan or program map.  Identify the areas where the process or program can be strengthened through outside support or other partnerships.  Look at each step of your process not only in light of how a strategic partner can benefit you but also how, by working together, the partner will benefit too.

Plan and Take Action

Evaluate the things that you are doing that might be done as well as you are currently doing them or can be done even better by others.

Start by identifying outside resources for non core activities and then evaluate how you can better utilize your existing resources by redeploying them into core areas of strength or differentiation within your organization.  Strategic partnerships like these are a resource investment for you and the partner.  Be realistic in calculating the ROI for both parties.

Put together presentations you can make to potential strategic partners with a focus on how each of you will benefit from the partnership.  Then build your target partner list and start scheduling the presentations.

Asking for help.

Following this process, asking for help moves from sending out an ‘S.O.S.’ or distress call to proactively building relationships where both parties benefit.  Now, you are  not just asking someone to help you with a business challenge, you are offering to help them overcome one of theirs.

So, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Look at your business on a regular basis to determine how by asking for help, you can make your business stronger, more cost efficient, or more financially sound.  You’ll never know, until you ask!

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

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