Mental Health Awareness: When to ask for help as a founder

When to ask for help as a founder

Firstly, let’s make it clear that asking for support is not a sign of weakness, but a sign you’re fully aware of the bigger picture. It shows strength and courage to make that first step. 

Running a business is one of the toughest challenges you can take on. The economy throws multiple uncertainties at us we’ve all witnessed which make future planning a struggle. Through our work with acquisitions, we’ve learned that many entrepreneurs find themselves grappling with the demands of their business, often realising too late that seeking support could have transformed their journey.  

We’ve been truly inspired by the courage and resilience of Pia Harpur as part of Inc & Co’s latest acquisition of Studio PIA, as she tells us in her own words. 

Starting out 

In the initial stages, it’s common for founders to feel they need to know it all. This pressure to please and impress everyone around you can prevent you from being able to work on the areas of your business where you excel.   

Our most recent acquisition of Studio Pia showed this, as written in her own words by the head of business, Pia Smith, who reflects on her early days:  

“In the early days of my business, I thought I had to be seen to know it all (when I knew nothing!). I struggled to admit that I might not have all the answers, and I fumbled my way along, hoping my best was good enough. It worked for a while and got us to profitability, but it wasn’t enough to maintain at that level in a tough economy.”  

This mindset can lead to a burnout and can affect growth, as founders spend less time on their strengths and more on areas outside their expertise.  

The Impact of External Pressures  

The COVID-19 pandemic and other recent world events exacerbated many existing challenges for businesses. Economic instability and changing market dynamics forced many companies into survival mode. Studio Pia was no exception:  

“Honestly, the last couple of years post-COVID have been challenging, to say the least. My team worked incredibly hard to grow, but the reality was we’d been living hand-to-mouth, never having enough to invest in the areas we knew we needed to.”  

When external pressures increase, the need for support becomes more apparent. Founders often find themselves overwhelmed, unable to invest in crucial areas such as marketing, HR, and technology. You feel the need to downsize or cut back to protect those around you.  

Seeking Support and Building Confidence  

Joining supportive groups can be a game-changer for business owners. Pia found strength in networks like Female Founders Rise and BUY WOMEN BUILT:  

“In the last year, having joined two amazing communities, I’ve found comfort amongst my peers and built the confidence to ask for help without shame. I also learned a ton about investment and exit events through their insightful webinars and panel discussions.”  

These communities provide valuable insights, emotional support, and practical advice, helping founders navigate their challenges more effectively.  

Embracing Acquisition for Growth  

When the opportunity for acquisition arises, it can provide the much-needed support and resources to propel a business forward. As a result, Inc & Co acquired Studio Pia and, within a short space of time, set out plans for a new growth strategy, using the already existing talent and experience across the group.  

“When the acquisition offer was made, it seemed too good to be true! I would remain in my position as head of the company, with the support of a board of experts in commerce and finance and further access to a team that could help with marketing, HR, tech, and more. What’s more, we’d finally have the funds for those growth levers we’d been desperate to pull. It was an easy YES!”  

As a group, we were keen to expand our portfolio of luxury, high-end brands that have a real and genuine focus on sustainability and an ethical ethos, and Studio PIA fits this perfectly.  

Knowing When to Ask for Help  

This brings us back to our main title point of recognising when to seek support. In some cases, this is easier said than done, and sadly, this doesn’t work for all businesses, but we want to change perceptions of asking for help to be not a negative but the next step for a business. As Pia said:  

“What could you do with more support? It’s a question I wish I’d asked myself a lot sooner.”  

By being proactive in seeking support, whether through peer networks, professional advice, or strategic partnerships, business owners can enhance their chances of long-term success and personal fulfilment.  

By embracing external help, whether through supportive communities or strategic acquisitions, entrepreneurs can navigate their path more effectively and achieve sustained growth. The key is to acknowledge the need for support early and to take proactive steps towards securing it.  

If you would like to contact us to talk about your business and its future plans, then get in touch with our team.  

Mental Health Awareness: When to ask for help as a founder Inc & Co
Inc & Co
The Marketing & Content team at Inc & Co has created this content.