This is from an article by Martin Barlow. I have shortened it slightly and I hope you like it
with thanks to:

Do you need to make decisions but feel you don’t have all the inputs you’d like?  

If anything defines the life of a business owner, it is incomplete information. One way that I have continually found helpful in closing this information gap is through a strong network of mentors, which in my experience come in three varieties: 1. external mentors, 2. internal mentors, and 3. customers.

  • External mentors

External mentors are what people typically think of when you describe “mentors.” They can be family, friends, investors, advisors, executive coaches and so on. They take an active role in shaping you and your business from the outside in by providing external perspectives across a vast array of experiences. This can be a huge value-add to us as business owners given we are fairly insular experts in a specific market, software, or solution. Recruiting a strong network of external mentors takes significant time and energy — and it also requires humility, a high degree of self-awareness, and strong listening skills. You need to convince the most relevant individuals you can find that you are eager to absorb and apply their knowledge to challenges your business faces.

But even when you have a great network of external mentors at your back, the complexity of being the business owner is sifting through the various opinions of an incredibly smart group and determining which is the right path for your specific company.

  • Internal mentors (aka your team)

I am a strong believer in building a team of the most impressive people you can find, people you would proudly work for under different circumstances. If you are successful at this, your team becomes a group of high-touch, day-to-day mentors from whom you can absorb some highly relevant skills and knowledge. At Fernish, the first hire I made was my co-founder, Lucas. I regularly describe Lucas as the smartest person I know given his deep understanding of technology, organizational management, and a proven ability to methodically build and scale a business. Lucas and I had worked together at a previous startup, Atom Tickets, where we built an excellent working relationship — but it was still a months-long recruiting process to get him to join me and start Fernish. I could have chosen another co-founder and might have got the business off the ground earlier, but the uncertainty around working relationship and skill set would have just added to the already risky nature of starting a business

We’ve focused on hiring a group of overqualified, fairly senior individuals who are happy to be individual contributors while getting our company into a position to scale. Similar to external mentors, the way to find and convince a team of bar-raising individuals to join you is through a combination of storytelling and humility. And, like in the case of my co-founder, it can take a while. But having strict discipline in hiring that is rooted in rigorous recruiting and screening processes will yield a group that will accelerate both your business trajectory and your entire teams’ learning curve.

Related: Want to Build a High-Performance Team? Start with Trust.

  • Customers

While external mentors provide a breadth of applicable perspective and internal mentors propel growth and learnings day-to-day, your customers are actually the most important mentors you can have. Customer development and understanding isn’t just critical to your business, it is your business! How are you speaking to your customers? How often are you doing so? How do you synthesize that information and act upon it? What do you know what your customers value? What motivates them? What do they dislike (What’s stopping them buying more)? What hesitations do they have about using your product or service? How do you get them over the hump to do so? These are not easy questions to answer. At Fernish, we have a methodical approach to customer development — for both active customers and those who don’t quite make it to the bottom of our funnel. It involves a combination of surveys and interviews across a refined list of questions with measurable inputs and actionable outputs. For instance, we’ve found out there is actually a lot to be learned from how much customers are willing to spend on a latte (correlations rather than causations, but who would have thought!). The concept of “customers as mentors” can lead to some tough decisions that go against internal theses and legacy product development. However, these decisions will both align you more closely with your customer and start to fill some of the gaps in information asymmetry.

Related: 3 Ways to Monitor Customer Churn

Building a network of mentors in each of the above varieties is a challenging, time-intensive, and intentional process. But it will provide you with an essential perspective when making decisions with incomplete information. And as you go through this process, I think you will find that engaging with a robust, interdisciplinary mentor network is one of the most rewarding parts of business ownership, because together you make the business more robust and more sustainable.

Let me know if you have any questions.

As a leader, you might think you should have everything figured out already, but this simply isn’t true. While all of us have our own talents, leadership skills are often something we have to learn along the way.

Enter the business coach. A business coach oversees and guides a manager or founder in starting, growing or developing a business. Like a sports coach, a business coach’s job is to help you develop the skills and resources you need in order to be successful.

Business owners often have to find ways to perform well and work efficiently under conditions of immense pressure, heavy workloads and stress. When tasks keep on piling up and you’re faced with many demands and questions, whether from customers, employees or investors, it can be difficult to keep a cool head.

These seven entrepreneurs offer their best strategies for dealing with the pressures of business management so that you can remain calm and perform at optimum capacity — even when feeling overwhelmed.

Know how to prioritize.

“Running a successful business comes with a lot challenges and the pressure to meet many objectives, but the one way that I ensure I can meet all deadlines is to prioritize my schedule and the tasks at hand,” explains Kristin Kimberly Marquet, founder and creative director of Creative Development Agency, LLC.

According to Marquet, one way to achieve this is to put together a to-do list and keep it close throughout the day: “I keep a handwritten to-do on my desk to help me stay focused and achieve what needs to be completed. If I can’t get something done, then I will outsource or delegate it.”

Eat the elephant.

Well, not a real elephant — this means the biggest issue an entrepreneur is faced with every day, according to Brian Samson, co-founder of True North. This kind of prioritization is hard and requires strong discipline.

“The easier choice is to check my phone, respond to emails and knock out trivial stuff,” Samson explains. However, “my energy level is highest early in the day and solving big problems, such as strategy, cash flow or client proposals, builds tremendous momentum for the second half of the day.”

Change your perspective.

Shifting a negative perspective into a positive one could be the solution to dealing with high amounts of pressure, thinks Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance.

“Think of the activity or situation as fun, because a lot of times it is. Being under pressure in certain instances can actually be exhilarating,” he says. Along the same lines, visualizing a positive outcome can help. “Both of these strategies have worked for me numerous times in the past when I’ve been under the gun,” Schrage reveals.

Keep smiling and laughing.

Even if it seems counterintuitive, making light of the situation can help relieve the pressure for both you as a business owner and the people around you.

Hostt Co-founder Peter Daisyme explains: “I remind myself not to let the pressure get to me. The best way to do this is to keep smiling and laughing. It sounds simple, but it’s these actions that stop me from focusing on the things I can’t control and remind me of what I’m doing this all for. It also helps others around me to feel less pressure.”

Go for a walk.

“I’ve always found that a quick solo walk around the block, without my phone, is a great way to decompress,” says Justin Lefkovitch, founder of Mirrored Media.

According to Lefkovitch, it’s important to keep a level head as an entrepreneur: “When the pressure bears down on you, it’s wise to take a step back. My beautiful Santa Monica neighborhood provides a relaxing atmosphere for me to reset and clear my head.”

Don’t abandon your process.

Another key strategy when faced with inevitable periods of stress is to stick to your process and proven success strategies, says BLASTmedia President Lindsey Groepper.

“When I returned from maternity leave, five of our clients had been acquired — great for our clients, but bad for our PR agency’s bottom line. Rather than panic, discount prices and go rogue, I remained calm, followed my process and held firm to our value proposition and pricing. The revenue came back quickly,” she explains.

Trust yourself.

Trusting yourself and your abilities is arguably one of the most important strategies you can implement, thinks Bryce Welker, CEO of the Accounting Institute for Success.

“If you’ve made it this far, chances are that you’ve developed a process and gathered a team that is capable of accomplishing incredible tasks. What’s helped me stay calm and collected in the face of considerable pressure is the knowledge that I have handled similarly intense events in the past, that I am capable of handling them in the present, and that worrying won’t change a thing,” he concludes.

Source: Forbes Coach Council Community Voice