That same independent spirit that gets us started in business can also be a bit of a hindrance when reaching success. A little like asking for directions when you’re lost, asking for help when you are starting your business takes a change in mindset – but the effort will be worth it.
Before you even start trading, you should look to build a team of business professionals around you, to help with planning, setting up and running your business.
And it doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are many organisations, such as your regional Chamber of Commerce, offering discounted services to members, and many Government agencies providing free advice and services to business. There’s also now a wealth of free and independent information online, which can help you plan and grow your business.
In getting help, many businesses don’t look for a trusted expert – be it an accountant, lawyer or banker – until it’s crunch time. My advice is to enlist the help of an ‘expert team’ much earlier – right at the set-up stage. A start-up network can help you plan your business, set up key systems and structures, and work through legislation, training and financing.
I recommend you audition a few potentials, starting with referrals from other professional service providers and successful small business owners. Ask a lot of questions – from their experience with helping start-ups and how they could help your business, to billing processes and any conflicts of interest. Most importantly, look for someone you feel understands your business – and is willing to work alongside you as you grow.
As with any relationship, good communication is the key to success, so be sure to establish clear expectations and open communication lines. It also helps if you genuinely like and get along with your advisor. This doesn’t mean you need to be best buddies with your banker, rather that you are comfortable discussing all aspects of your business with them – the good, the bad and the ugly.
A team approach to the success of your business not only draws in a range of expertise, it also enables you to focus on business fundamentals. Like most large companies have executive teams and boards, your own professional team can help you make decisions, plan for development and identify what you need to do to grow. And independent advice can be absolutely crucial when you, yourself are very close to the business. From my experience working with start-up businesses, a trusted, objective start-up network can make all the difference in the long run.