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Richard Branson Says This Is the Most Important Thing for Entrepreneurs to Do–And You Can Start Right Now

Most people simply don’t, or won’t, ask for help. Here’s how to break out of the mold.

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BY Heather Wilde - 31 Jan 2019

must do for entrepreneurs

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Have you ever helped someone simply because someone asked you to? Think about any time you may have purchased cookies or candy from a co-worker, or volunteered somewhere that wasn't your idea, or simply gave your time, money or effort in some way to another person.

I'm positive you won't need to think very hard--we do it all the time. It's easy to help other people when they are asking for it.

Now, think about the last time you actually asked someone for help. For some people, this will be much harder. We tend to have an aversion to asking other people for what we need--or want--for fear of rejection and the embarrassment that comes with it.

When starting out, Richard Branson realized that running a business required multiple hats. After discovering where he excelled and where he didn't, he found other people to assist him.

While it seems trite, the fear is all too real. Being told "no" when you're at your most vulnerable can be too much to bear. However, successful entrepreneurs know one thing above all others: how to properly ask for and accept help. Whether you need to ask for time, money, or resources, most businesses don't get off the ground without the support of many people.

What can you do to become more comfortable with asking for help?

1. Ask for something that doesn't matter.

When we think about asking for help, a lot of times we only conceive of things that would be a "huge imposition" to someone else--and then don't ask because we assume we'll be rejected. Instead, try to ask for something that someone would likely say yes to, and that if they do say no, it wouldn't upset you overly much.

If you practice with a few of these, you'll gain enough confidence to be able to ask for more important things.

2. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I hate asking for things -- It's one of my least favorite things. However, one time when I needed a ride from the airport, I forced myself to ask my friends rather than rely on my usual Uber. What I found was that my friends were more than willing to pick me up--they saw it as a way to spend quality time together, and not a chore.

If you can get over your own squeamishness, you can accept the help others are trying to give you.

3. Be specific in your ask.

Once you have gained a bit of confidence and lost some of your embarrassment, then comes the time to start asking for more important things. In meetings, ask directly for a follow-up. Ask for feedback, next steps--even for information about any competition you might have.

A specific request is much easier to answer.

4. Assume nothing about the outcome.

The most common problem people have with asking is making assumptions about what other people can give them in return. When you're concerned with a problem, you often have tunnel-vision about how to fix it.

By simply letting people know that you have a need, you may be presented with a solution that you may not have thought of.

If you don't ask--you don't get anything. After all, what's the worst that can happen?

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