Lisa Robbin Young

3 ways to navigate your business through Whitewater

Picture Credit: CC0 Licence

No business is an island. Yes, this may be your big idea, and the thing that you’ve put your time, energy, and life savings into, but failing to build a strong team of support could stop you from getting where you want to go. After a business has seen a few healthy years, invariably balls start getting dropped. My friend and former client, Les McKeown calls this "Whitewater". Much like the real rapids of rafting, a business in Whitewater has gotten more complex and it's difficult to navigate on your own.

Who are you going to let onto your business 'boat'? Before (or just as) you’re experiencing those inevitable highs and lows, you're going to need the right people on board. People who will take your business from strength to strength, and who you will hopefully enjoy the journey with most. And it's not just your internal team. Take a look:

A like-minded team

You need the team that’s best for your business, not the people who you would have a great time with on a Friday night. Whether you're using temporary, contract help or employing a full-time staff, your crew needs to not only understand your vision, but also be aligned with what you want your company to be doing in the world.

A like-minded team of passionate individuals who share your vision and can help you create the right company culture to get things done. Experience and skill sets count, but think too about how impassioned your interviewees seem, and how well they convey their vision for helping you move into the future. These folks need to augment your existing support team - or you need to NOT employ them.

Experts on your side 

You may be very adept at your craft, but, if you're like most creative entrepreneurs on the more Chaotic end of the spectrum, you're probably not nearly as experienced in the business side of things. And vice versa: Linears tend to struggle with the experiential side of business building.

To overcome that knowledge gap, you may need to enlist trusted experts from time to time. If you're not great with tech, you may need to hire a professional to get your network up and running. If you're looking to attract investors, you might want to talk with a private equity consultant like those at IT Ally. Experienced experts cut the learning curve and help ensure that you're maximizing your results from the beginning. 

Picture Credit: CC0 Licence

Allies in your industry

While it's true that you have competitors, not everyone is out to get you. In my experience, a focus on collaboration over competition with your industry colleagues can actually be a big benefit. Industry connections provide you with inspiration, potential clients, and collaborators. Whether you achieve this thanks to knowledge from your expert helpers, or get into networking and events, a supportive community within your industry helps you learn best practices, learn from others in your field, and develop stronger bonds with folks who understand the journey you're on.

Choosing the right support team for your company takes time and patience. But you'll be more likely to survive even the extreme challenges of those first years of whitewater when you do.

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