You are innovative. You are strong. You are capable. You are amazing. You are not, however, equipped to forge your way completely alone. Yes, as a business owner or leader you are a critical component of your business’s success, but you are not the only factor. Building and maintaining a successful business requires a cadre of talented professionals to provide support.
Build Your Circle
Let’s get one thing clear before we dive too deeply into this: Building your cadre of talent does not mean bringing on a full-time staff of whizzes. Your support network may incorporate your professional mentors, outside consultants, or vendors that supplement your skillset and your staff. This is about building a support network to foster growth, and while that may include folks on your payroll, it may also encompass your external community.
You’re starting your own business because you’ve got a great idea. Your company requires more than one great idea, though. You’ll be brainstorming plans that range from how you’re going to launch your business to how you’re going to support your market as you grow. Building a community of experts you can bounce ideas off of will be crucial. You need someone willing to tell you, “No. That may not be a viable plan,” and someone willing to say, “Hey, don’t write that idea off so quickly You need a sounding board who can help you take a nugget of an idea and flesh it out into a viable solution.
Skills You’ve Got and Skills You Don’t
Not everything is in your bailiwick. As an entrepreneur you are going to be responsible not just for the functions you’re good at, but also the functions that you aren’t. Wait, let’s qualify that a little more: You will be responsible for overseeing all those things, but you may not need to do them yourself. That’s where your support network comes in. Marketing not your strong suit? You may hire a staff member to take this one on, or you can outsource your efforts to an agency or consultant who rocks in this arena. Your job will be to provide what they need to be successful and let your marketing guru do their thing.
Boost Your Cash
Starting a business is not cheap, but you already knew that. While some entrepreneurs are able to bootstrap their new businesses, many will seek investors or financial institutions that can provide a loan. Your support network will include the lenders and/or investors who contribute the cash you need to get the ball rolling. Depending on the route you take, this person(s) may be more or less invested in your business. Investors may want to be able to provide some input on a business plan and/or daily operations.
Knowing Someone that Knows Someone
Your friends, family, and professional mentors may not be the right fit for your specific needs at this time. They may, however, know someone else who is. Cultivating a network of business peers and mentors can help establish connections to other support systems beyond your initial reach. Hint: If you’re not already active on LinkedIn or with your local Chamber of Commerce and professional organizations associated with your field, now is the time to jump in and start networking!
Depending on the nature of your business, your startup may launch from your kitchen table or the spare room in your home. On the other hand, you may need dedicated office or retail space. Your circle of support may include incubators or small business support systems that manage properties that offer dedicated workspace for startups. Or it could be space in an office park or a stall in a retail outlet. Explore your options.
Pay it Forward
Are you an experienced entrepreneur? You undoubtedly know the value of building a business support network as you launch and grow your business. Now is the time to pay that forward and support another innovator beginning to nurture the seed of a great idea. Thank your mentors. Continue to cultivate your relationship with them and, while you do, make yourself available to potential mentees who can benefit from your experience.