Some of the biggest businesses in the world were just a start-up dream at one time. Jeff Bezos started Amazon from his garage, Starbucks began as a single coffee shop in Seattle.
Small businesses and startups account for 99.9% of businesses in the US alone. So while it is often big business you hear about on the news, it is entrepreneurs and small business owners that truly keep the economy running.
Starting your own company is one of the most difficult, yet rewarding things that you can do. Most successful business owners will tell you that alongside their own hard work, there are many other people along the way who were essential in their success. These can include financial and registered agents who have the expertise to help you get it done.
Mentoring has helped some of the world’s most successful business people. Finding someone with experience, who can act as a mentor and guide, who can help you improve yourself and your business.
The mentor relationship can be informal or you can apply to one of the many mentoring programs, where you can be matched up with someone suitable.
If you aren’t sure where to start, reach out to your network and see if anyone is willing to help out.
A Business Coach
Business coaches differ from mentors in a number of ways. For a start, you pay them so the relationship is more formal, with expectations on either side. A business coach works with you to define your vision and goals for your business and works with you to get there.
The startup community is a close-knit one. After all, who know’s better than them about the challenges of the industry. Not only will you build a close network of supportive contacts, but many startups work with each other, often adopting products and services early, helping with product testing, or as a bartering agreement.
At some point in your business journey, you will be looking for funding to take your business forward. Presenting your business as an attractive investment opportunity can take a lot of networking and due diligence with investment groups. Investment managers will want to analyze your business plans and projections in granular detail.
An investment manager can help you with your investment pitch and give advice on many aspects of attracting financial investment.
Finding the right people to work in your startup is vital. Working in a startup business is unique and may not suit everyone, even if they have the experience you’re looking for. By necessity, startups are agile, forward-thinking, and resource-poor. Experimentation, and even failures, are encouraged as an important part of growth and strategy. This is very different from a more established business that might be more risk-averse. People who have spent years working in a more traditional business might find the conditions hard to cope with, or they may thrive. The point is, you don’t know for sure until you recruit them.
Using a recruitment consultant can help you to get the lay of the land in terms of the talent out there. Choose one that you can get to know so they can really experience the personality and drive behind your business. There are many consultants that work exclusively with startups, so are better able to find people who will do well in that type of industry.
You might feel that you can do all of the recruitment yourself. However, you’ll soon realize how much time and resource it takes up to do it properly. If you have that time available and knowledge of talent in the sector, that’s great but be careful it does not divert you from core business tasks.
The HR profession is no longer about hiring, firing, and staying on the right side of employment law. HR is now a fundamental part of all successful businesses. With the support of the senior leadership team, an HR specialist is hugely important in building employee engagement within your organization. Happy and engaged employees perform better, are loyal to the company, and can directly affect profitability. They also enjoy a better work-life balance, reduced absenteeism, and better mental and physical health. In a small startup, where every hire is crucial, someone skilled in HR can help you scale your workforce effectively.
You may think that you only need a financial adviser when you are making a lot of money. While consulting a financial adviser is an investment, doing it early can have huge benefits for your business, especially if you have no background in the sector.
Much like a personal financial adviser, they will ask you about your business goals and current situation. What are your projections for the next five years?
They can then take you through the ins and outs of cash flow, capital expenditure, and hiring strategies (from a financial perspective).
While you may think it is purely the number of contracts you’re having signed or products sold that grow your business, that is only part of it. Solid financial management procedures and careful planning can have a huge impact on your bottom line.
Perhaps one of the most valuable reasons to use a financial adviser is having someone to guide you on risk management. By keeping risks to a minimum or spreading your risk, you are less likely to be financially crippled should something go wrong.
Many startups forego legal advice at the beginning as they see it as costly and unnecessary. Investing in legal expertise sooner is not as expensive as not investing. You may have opened yourself up to financial risk without even realizing it.
At the start of your journey, legal guidance can set out clear ownership rights. If you are setting up the company with more than one person, you will need to set out responsibilities, liabilities, salaries, and exit rights. You might be on the same wavelength as your co-founders now, but that may not always be the case.
The legal structure of your business will need to be decided at the outset too. Guidance can assist you with weighing up the pros and cons of each option as well as the tax implications of each.
Protecting your intellectual property at the outset is far easier, and cheaper, than fighting for it in a costly legal process later. By not protecting your IP, other companies could potentially profit from your ideas. Your legal adviser can help you to set up patents, copyright, trademarks, and non-disclosure and non-compete agreements.
Doing business requires a range of contracts to be drafted. A well-drafted contract will remove ambiguity and protect you from potential litigation down the line. Don’t cut corners in this area.
Knowing your business from the outset can also help if you ever need to defend yourself against litigation or take legal action yourself against another company or individual.
Starting your own company is a huge step, that requires commitment and a lot of good advice. Along the way, you will interact with many professionals who can help you achieve your vision. The key is to know when and how to use these people.
An investment early on can potentially save you a lot of money further down the line. Always look for people that are experienced and that you can connect with, after all, they need to believe in you and your business in order to give you the very best advice.
Choosing the right people to take with you on your journey could mean the difference between success and failure.