As you probably well know by now, you as an entrepreneur are not an island. In fact, if you ask any successful business owner or investor you will learn that business is really a team sport. You can’t possibly know everything, and it would be a foolish use of your time trying to do the things in your business that you are not qualified to do alone. That’s where you need to consider building a strong business team.
Here are some universal members of virtually any business team. First, you need a mentor, which is someone who is or has been where you want to go, someone who has “walked the talk.” Next, you want to gather some professional advisors. A starting lineup should include an accountant or CPA, a business attorney, a banker, an insurance agent, and a financial advisor.
As your business grows you may find a need for additional advisors including a tax advisor, business broker, real estate broker, bookkeeper, mortgage broker, stockbroker or others depending on you business and goals.
The first step is finding these team members. The best way to do this is to ask successful business owners in your area for referrals to their advisors or mentors. You can also ask your professors if they can recommend any individuals. A last resort may be to look in the phone book.
Before selecting someone to be a part of your team be sure to interview a handful of candidates. Not only does this allow you to find someone who is a good fit, but it will also help you learn what help this type of professional has to offer. Most business professionals will agree to meet with you for free the first time.
Also, be sure to be upfront with them about the fact that you will be interviewing several professionals before deciding on whom to work with. Some sample questions you may want to ask a potential advisor are:
- What are your credentials?
- How many areas of my financial and business life can you help me with?
- Would you give me some references that I can call on?
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you have many clients?
- What are your fees?
- Would you be willing to meet with my team to discuss our financial and business plans?
After you have selected your advisors be sure that you communicate with them on a consistent basis. Remember that you are the leader of the business. So when you do meet with your advisors, make sure to have a specific agenda with specific goals for the meeting. Learn some of the language that your advisors speak, but don’t pretend to understand them. Often times I’ll ask an advisor to explain some concept using a story or example. Always be honest with them. And when you find a good team member, be sure to pay them on time!
Finally, don’t be afraid to spend money on a good advisor if you are serious about being an entrepreneur and growing your business. A good consultant will save your business much more money than they charge you in fees. Now, go out there and have fun building your team!
Roman Brzozowski, a former Chapter President of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization chapter at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is the founder and President of Elite Detailing Service Inc. [formerly Extreme Automobile Detailing Service]. His company provides automobile appearance services in the Chicagoland area to clients at their home or office. Among many other things, Roman is actively involved in personal development coaching, enjoys speaking to aspiring entrepreneurs, and is in the planning stages of starting a real estate investment company. You can reach Roman at email@example.com.