Don’t Go It Alone - Innovate New Albany | New Albany, Ohio

Don’t Go It Alone

As entrepreneurs, most of us are passionate about new ideas, creativity, and vision. We are naturally good at escaping, bypassing, or transcending bureaucratic structures through innovation and imagination. One of our most unique strengths is our fierce individualism. It is also one of our biggest weaknesses.

Over the course of my career, I have started and lead several businesses. In the early stages of each, I was the guy with all the answers…the one who kept us moving forward…the one who solved all the issues. As each of the businesses grew, so did the complexity. As best I could, I continued to try to have all the answers, keep things moving forward, and solve all the issues.

It happened without me even knowing it, but in every instance, my businesses would evolve to a point where we would get stuck because I had hit a ceiling. The complexity would become more than I could manage entirely be myself. People would grow increasingly frustrated, growth would become more and more difficult, and when issues came up, I would usually try to piece them together with a little duct tape and twine – just to get through to the next week. Eventually, I began to feel like the entire organization was being held together by duct tape and twine.

It wasn’t until about 10 years into my career that I began to realize the folly of believing that my success was dependent solely upon my own intellect and ability. In 2003, I decided to join the Young President’s Organization (YPO – I am now a member of EO, The Entrepreneurs Organization). This is a Peer Group that focuses on building better leaders through education and idea exchange. As I became increasingly active in YPO, and later in EO, I was exposed to hundreds of other executives and entrepreneurs as well as to many professional resources, facilitators, and mentors. One thing became very clear to me – the most successful people I met almost always had a mentor or a professional coach.

As I spent more and more time around these other business owners, the more stories I heard about things learned from their mentors or coaches that had profound impacts on their lives – both professionally and personally. It became increasingly clear to me that I needed to grow beyond the individualism that was part of my early success, and look to expand my knowledge and perspective, and to gain accountability, by seeking a mentor.

Now that I am more than 20 years into my life as an entrepreneur, I can say with absolutely certainty that my professional and personal life are many times better because I have adopted a position of humble confidence when it comes to not only being open to learn from others, but more specifically, to seek out others for the purpose of mentoring me and holding me accountable.

This is one of the biggest lessons I try to convey to young entrepreneurs… Seek out a mentor or a coach. Here are 4 reasons why.

  1. Objectivity: A coach or mentor will provide you with external, independent and trusted perspective that you simply cannot provide for yourself because you are living in your own “snow-globe.” Having somebody from the outside looking in, somebody who has walked the same path you are walking brings tremendous value.
  2. Accountability: A coach or mentor will challenge you to strategize and develop your goals and help you stay accountable to doing what you say you will do. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to break those promises we make to ourselves, but how much more we work to keep those we make to others?
  3. Focus: It is only human nature that we often drift away from what we need to do and toward what we want to do when the two are not in alignment. Often, as we need to change in order to grow, we are required to do things we may not prefer to do. A coach or mentor will help keep you focused on succeeding in the things you need to do.
  4. Challenge: A good coach or mentor will push you and challenge your preconceived notions. This helps you avoid blind spots and subjectivity in your decision-making. When we think and plan in a vacuum, we are subject to falling victim to our own prejudices and preconceptions.

Every athlete and top performer uses a coach to bring our their best…so why don’t you?

Michael Erath is a successful entrepreneur, currently owning businesses in Ohio and Arizona. He spends most of his time now as a Certified EOS Implementer, helping entrepreneurs gain Traction and get everything they want out of their businesses by implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System.

Michael Erath, founder of SMART Direction LLC, is a life-long entrepreneur and owner of multiple businesses who now also helps other business owners and their Leadership Teams get everything they want out of their businesses by implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System as a Certified EOS Implementer. The Entrepreneurial Operating System brings clarity, vision, focus, discipline, accountability and team health into organizations of all sizes and in all industries. For more information, visit, or call Michael at 855 2 EOS PURE / (855) 236-7787.

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