You may be going into business for yourself, but you shouldn’t be doing it alone. Even if you have a great idea and the drive to make it happen, you may not have all the skills you need. To fill in those blanks, you need two types of people — specialists and supporters. That’s why we’ll help you get started on building a Rolodex. It’ll definitely come in handy.
A lawyer – Yes, a lawyer. The business world isn’t scary, it’s complicated. A lawyer who can help steer you through it is worth her or his weight in gold. Find one by checking with people in similar businesses, talking to other lawyers and by interviewing lawyers listed in the telephone books under business specialties. You’ll want someone familiar with small-business operations.
An accountant – If the legal world of business is complicated, so too is the financial world. An accountant specializing in small business can help you set up bookkeeping and other systems that will save you time and money in the long run.
A banker – Joseph R. Mancuso in his book “Mancuso’s Small Business Basics” advises that you “pick a banker, not a bank.” Find and cultivate a young loan officer. Often he or she will be as excited as you are to be starting out. Think about whether he or she will work well with your lawyer and your accountant.
An advertising agency – Wait, you say, I’m not ready for full-page newspaper ads and billboards. No, you’re probably not. But you are going to need a look, an image and visibility. An agency can help you cultivate all of that. You are a small-business owner, so look for a small ad agency. The people there will understand what you are all about. They’ll help you look professional.
Same business, different town – Find someone who has done what you want to do, but who isn’t your direct competition. Business networks and web sites are often a good place to find your business twin. It’s great to have a sounding board, someone to call when you are stumped or simply weary.
A management consultant – These are the “been there, done that” people. They are the troubleshooters. They provide objectivity and show you where your plans may have flaws. In addition to formal consulting firms, you might try looking at your local university’s business department, local business-development offices and organizations such as SCORE. Even a banker or lawyer in another town would be good. It’s nice to be able to call someone to double-check the advice you get.
A personal information officer – You could hire someone or you could assign the task to a key staffer. You might get really lucky if you know people who have a knack for research and who are willing to share information with you. The point is to let someone else navigate and drive, so you can do the reading.
A good masseuse – When you get weary — because you will be faced with long hours — renew your energy for tomorrow’s round of challenges with a rubdown.