Why It’s Important To Ask For Help In Business

Picture of by Ros Jones

by Ros Jones

Business coach and author

How good are you at asking for help, or accepting help?


We all love being asked if we can help. But we often seem to find it difficult to ask for help ourselves, or even accept help when it’s offered.

Why is it hard to ask for help?

We may see asking for help as a sign of weakness or incompetence, or feel that we don’t want to take up someone’s time. We need to know all the answers, right? Everyone else seems to.

The truth is that building a business can be tough – and lonely.

Unfortunately, business owners only usually come to me as a coach when they’re at their wits’ ends after struggling with growing problems for years. They almost always declare that they wish they’d known about business coaching earlier and tell me that one of the most valuable parts of our coaching is that it’s so good to have someone on their side to help them.

One guy I worked with had been in business for 20 years. In that time he hadn’t felt able to take a holiday for more than a week at a time. He didn’t trust his team to keep the business going in a prolonged absence. Six months after working with me, he was able to take his family away for their first every three week break. All those years!

We’ve been trained to ask ourselves, “How can I do this?” The better question is “Who is the best person to help me with this?”

Henry Ford was famous for collecting a team of people around him who knew the answers to everything he didn’t. During a lawsuit (during which he was accused of having little general knowledge), he was reported to have said, “I have a row of electric push buttons on my desk and by pushing the right button I can summon to my aid men who can answer ANY question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts”.

Steve Jobs also famously shared that he deliberately hired people who knew more than him so would be a greater help to his business.

Asking for help shows humility and self-awareness. None of us has all the answers but there is always someone out there who can help. Getting help is essential for growth.

In the current business landscape, we gain a great advantage when we recognise this truth and are unafraid to ask for help.

Accepting help

We need to keep an open mind when others offer help and advice.

There can be a tendency, when others make helpful suggestions, for us to shoot them down, saying things like, “No! I’ve tried that before. It doesn’t work!” or “We’re different. That won’t work here.”

When we do this we are rejecting help.

Here are 4 steps to asking for help in business

  1. Be clear about the help you need. If you’re speaking with a coach, they will ask questions to help you get super clarity on the real problem.
  2. Choose the right person. Seek out individuals you trust and respect and who are likely to offer valuable insights. Ask for recommendations.
  3. Be grateful. Don’t argue or tell them you’ve tried that before and it doesn’t work (even if you have). Just say thank you and be grateful and be open to receive their feedback.
  4. Reciprocate. Asking for help is a two-way street. Offer assistance in return when others ask for it.
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