tortoise-smIt seems unnatural to reach out when you or your business is struggling. It may seem embarrassing. But that’s exactly when you need to do it the most. It happens to everyone, so recognize it. Reach out to those in your circle of trusted relationships to help give you perspective.

Running a small business is like riding a gigantic roller coaster. Sometimes you just want to close your eyes and scream.

When you’re on a steep downhill — when the cash in your bank account is plummeting just as you need to make payroll — the natural human instinct is to pull in, like a tortoise. We want to hide from the world in the safety of a hard shell that could pass for a rock.

But one of the best pieces of advice that I have ever received came from an accomplished entrepreneur in my circle of trusted relationships, just as I was going through a particularly rough time: “Do not become disconnected. Reach out to others”.

Easy to say, but that is not easy advice to implement. What normal person reaches out to others when they feel like crap?

Here are three good reasons to fight your tortoise tendencies when your business hits bottom, and you can simply visit over a cup of coffee and boost your business and reduce your stress:

  • You (and your team) may be in a rut. Entrepreneurs focus, drive hard, and hold themselves to high standards. The flip side is that you can be your own toughest critic and run your teams ragged. Before you know it, everyone has lost their mojo. An outside voice can reset this parasitic dynamic and reignite the team. A new person may have some positive insights into the business’ strengths, constructive suggestions, or new areas or opportunities to think about. Either way, an outsider can break the stalemate of group think.
  • Your next big opportunity could be only a cup coffee visit away. The truth is that you never know where your best leads and advice are going to come from. This is particularly counter-intuitive for the analytically minded, high-tech entrepreneurs. Most think their leads or good advice will come from people who are as well-versed as they are in their specialized technology areas, replete with acronyms no one else understands. That is simply wrong. I am aware of a person, who after attending a seminar in her field, got a terrific lead on a customer needing some very specialized optical scanning technology – right up her alley. It was from a fellow entrepreneur in a completely different industry.
  • The world is not going to wait for you. Hiding in your office is not a winning strategy for unearthing new trends or getting “unstuck”. Get out and see what is going on. Some areas of business are being turned on their heads. That’s a frightening prospect for incumbents. But these trends also present enormous opportunities that entrepreneurs can’t afford to miss. You always want to be in front of the industry trends.

Right now, there is a great shift in the business of manufacturing equipment, the kind that cranks out things like iPhones and iPads, etc. In the “old days” of equipment, only big companies were players. It was a highly capital-intensive business with expectations of instant worldwide support. I recently read about a manufacturing system the size of a modest house, financed by a manufacturing company in China, and entirely designed and built by a network of small businesses in the Silicon Valley. The system will be shipped to China in large containers and reassembled there. The value is in the design. The big infrastructure, cash reserves, and support of the big companies is not valued by the customer. There is now a huge opportunity for small companies, especially those that know how to collaborate.

The next time you are feeling down, fight against your instincts, and call or text a fellow entrepreneur in your circle of trusted relationships. Schedule a visit over a cup of Coffee or Tea? Just get out from under your rock.