This is what we normally do when we encounter a problem or challenge as an entrepreneur:
- We keep it to ourselves. We think no one can solve this or we are ashamed that we cannot solve this problem.
- We complain to friends, family and colleagues about how all kind of external conditions and people make your life difficult.
The result? Nothing changes and you stay stuck with your problem.
The outcome can be different if you actively ask for advice on how to deal with your challenge. Our last Talent School Session was a perfect example of this. Josephine Smits of Wanda Foundation was brave enough to put her issue on the table: funders are interested in financing her projects, but they are hardly ever prepared to pay for overhead staff. The foundation is of course very grateful for all the project contributions, without these contributions the foundation and its projects would not have been where it is now. As the organisation now grows to the next level, it becomes increasingly important to retain good quality administrative and other overhead staff. But how to find funding for the overhead? In this case the problem was: ‘the lack of overhead to pay for the staff’. Finding ‘free’ money was her challenge.
It appeared that other participants in the session had faced the same challenge and had already found solutions that they were more than willing to share!
- Some had organised sports events, where participants(e.g. team members!) could be sponsored by friends and family.
- Others involved businesses through organising informative dinners, where business had to pay for.
- Start a business next to the NGO to generate income for the NGO.
- Add a small percentage of overhead to projectp roposals.
- Get your team members and volunteers into your mission, share and let them get involved in facing the problem and taking up the challenge.
The list was endless! The participants decided to stay in touch and continue exchanging experiences even after the session ended.
You can never know what other people know and what experiences and connections they have. So, don’t just complain to your friends, family and colleagues about your problems. But turn them into a challenge and actively ask for help, tips and advice. You can also put your question on social media.
Personally, I have good experiences with sharing challenges on LinkedIn. One of our Zambian Brilliant Entrepreneurs wished to start producing 'vegetarian meat' based on soya. She already tried a lot and found it difficult to make the 'meat' tasty. In the Netherlands, there are many producers and consumers of such vegetarian products. I received many replies on my LinkedIn post, from people with experience in making vegetarian meat, in the Netherlands and in Africa. Not only that, they were also more than willing to share this information with the Zambian entrepreneur.
Also, don’t be shy as a manager to show that you don’t have the answers to all, but ask your employees for their ideas and opinions.
Explain concretely what the problem is, and how you would like the ideal situation to be. You will be surprised about the advice you will get and the people you will get it from!