Starting a business often requires a sharp learning curve, and it can be difficult to get up to speed on all aspects of running a business as you’re trying to get your product out the door. Having a group of trusted advisers who can guide you and answer your questions along the way is vital to your success.
If you don’t have the right people advising you, you’re going to lose money, speed to market and the ability to bridge your own weaknesses, says Isabella Johnston of Pivot Business Consulting. “Choose experts in their field, and make sure they’ll tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.”
Here’s who you need on your side as an entrepreneur.
A good lawyer will help you tackle a wide variety of issues. Find someone who has the legal expertise to help you incorporate properly, Johnston says: “There are things you don’t know, and what you don’t know can hurt you.” A lawyer can help you determine how to divide the company in the event that it’s a partnership, and can give you guidance when it comes to setting up terms and conditions on your website, a contractor or employer agreement, and other contracts.
At first you might look for someone to “handle the books,” but you’ll quickly need someone with a little more expertise than simply paying the bills, Johnston says. “Accountants deal in the here and now, while financial strategists forecast,” she says, so if you’re working with an accountant make sure they have some financial strategy experience. In addition, someone who only does bookkeeping may not be qualified for tasks such as helping you with taxes or audits, she says.
In the early stages of your business, HR is about processes — but Johnston recommends finding someone who has a background in HR development as well so you can put together a plan to develop employees and a company culture. Someone with that background will know what the trends are in hiring people and should also be wired for processes and compliance. They’ll be the control person who will save you, Johnston says.
How are you going to sell your product? In the early days, it might be you building the relationships that lead to business deals. But you’ve got to focus on growing your company, so look for a sales expert who can coach you on the type of people you need to sell your product or service. Look for people who can provide tips on building relationships, Johnston says.
Marketing is “huge and broad,” Johnston says, so having an expert on your team who can give you some guidance is vital. “You need a good CRM in place, especially if you’re digital,” she says. They’ll be able to give you advice on your content and how to use analytics to make your marketing more effective, Johnston says.
It’ll take some networking to find people who can help, but there are a lot of options, Johnston says. “Meetups are an entrepreneur’s best friend,” she says. “There are so many great services being offered, you’ll hear from people who are experts and you’ll see a depth and breadth of knowledge.”
Talk to other entrepreneurs and ask people if they recommend any of the experts you need. “Networking is key,” Johnston says. Meetings held by your local chamber of commerce or industry groups can help you meet experts or people who can refer you to the helpers you need.
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