Loner Equals Loser

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I recorded some bonus content for the World Internet Summit ahead of one of my speeches in Melbourne. The title of that video was “LONER EQUALS LOSER”. It covered why I think it is a mistake to try and build and run a business by yourself. I thought it would be useful to write a post about this subject as well. Some of the core concepts cover the dangers of being a loner in other areas as well.

To break this down further I’m going to look at:

Why do most people try to succeed alone?
Why being a loner is a mistake.
What advantages a team gives you.

So why do most people try to succeed alone?

Certainly when we are starting out with something new and we don’t have much experience or knowledge then it is easy to isolate ourselves due to feeling self-conscious. In fact I would say that this is the stage more than any time that we need to engage with mentors and an empowering peer group. We can also perceive that we have a low value at this point and use this as an excuse for isolation – the big advantages we have when starting out is enthusiasm and intensity. This applies to building any sort of skill as well as a business. Let go of your ego.

The Internet can also be a very unsociable environment to work in if that is where you choose to build your business. It is possible to build all aspects of your business without human interaction so it then becomes easy to neglect human interaction. Will a computer find you leads or look for JV opportunities? Unless you have invested in expensive software then the answer is NO.

Leading on from this is that people try and make it alone because their network of contacts is poor. They may lack volume of contacts or their contacts may be concentrated in one area that isn’t of practical use for them.

A common reason for trying to make it alone is the “I can do it best” attitude. Now while I respect that you may have many areas of expertise and expertise is the key for getting financially rewarded, it is unlikely that you truly can do everything best. In fact, the likelihood is that you can spend a lot of time learning and developing new skills that would be much more easily outsourced.

One of the most common reasons I see for flying solo is lack of money. This one makes a lot of sense, as an early-stage business is usually cashflow negative so paying for expertise is tricky. This is where you need to get resourceful and I will discuss this more later.

Why being a loner is a mistake.

Being a loner means that there is a real danger that you fall in love with your product without healthy outside insight. Most ideas and products are a dime a dozen and I have seen many entrepreneurs fail due to falling in love with their product rather than focussing on the benefits for the customer.

Being a loner, you can’t see yourself swing. By that I mean that it is much easier to see the faults and challenges of others than you. Outside insights and advice are key to success.

By being isolated there is a danger that you don’t measure or value your time properly. If one task blends into another and your are doing a bit of this and a bit of that then it is easy to drift through a day without really measuring the hours you are putting into a business.

On your own it is easy to fall prey to distractions, as there is no one else to keep you accountable. Especially online it is easy to fall into the trap of distractions from emails, websites and social media.

Finally the biggest trap that loners fall into is that they become a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. Generalists rarely get paid well. Laser-focussed expertise gets rewarded and particularly so on the Internet.

What advantages a team gives you.

You can each focus on your key areas of expertise. So the end customer will get much more value.

1+1=3. If I am a loner and spend 1 hour on my expertise and 1 hour on an area of non-expertise and someone else does the same. That isn’t very efficient. If that other person’s expertise is my area of non-expertise and vice versa then the solution is simple. I spend 2 hours on my expertise: 1 hour for me and 1 hour for my colleague. My colleague then spends 2 hours on their expertise – 1 hour for them and 1 hour for me. That means all four hours of work are spent on areas of expertise rather than 2 hours! So productivity will rise rapidly. Practically this process may involve more than two people so get creative. Look for trading opportunities. This is the key to overcoming a lack of money.

A team gives you other people to keep you accountable. Plus you keeping others accountable as well will naturally raise your game.

Finally being a team player means that others will be much more open to Joint Venture opportunities. You will have the right mindset to look for win/win opportunities where the sum of the parts is greater than the individual pieces. Again 1+1=3.

Being a team player is much less stressful when you have the right team and therein lies the key. Align yourself with people who have similar values to you and complementary skillsets.

Thank you for reading.

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