I recently met with a young entrepreneur who has had some recent successes. We talked through some of the wins and how they came about with his new company and the momentum he felt like he had. Intrigued by where he was hoping to take things, I asked what I could be doing to be helpful going forward. He responded, "There's nothing that comes to mind, I think we're good." Having seen my share of start-ups over the past few years, not needing help from someone can only mean one of two things:
1) You don't like the person and are doing your best to keep them as far away from you and your company as possible. You think they have the potential to be a hanger-on and have no value to provide.
2) You're in denial about how hard the road ahead is going to be and haven't even begun to think about what it means to build a company from scratch. Not knowing how someone can help is tipping you hand that you haven't even scratched the surface of how hard the road ahead is going to be.
Some of the best entrepreneurs and professionals I know are the most skillful at involving anyone and everyone in their initiatives. Not in a "cry for help" kind of way, but by understanding who their audiences is and what value they can create together. When we play the tough guy and show no vulnerability, we are missing out on the chance for others to work their magic on our behalf. Not out of pity, but out of caring and the desire to see us succeed in our endeavors.
The next time someone asks how they can be helpful, think about who they are, what they've done in their career, and if nothing else, look to them for advice about a situation you know they've encountered that you may run into further down the road. The last thing we need is more tough guys that don't need anyone else. Being an entrepreneur is tough enough as it is, why handicap yourself further by doing it alone?