Going it alone has its ups and downs. On one hand, you get to say you’ve built this company from the ground up all by yourself. On the other hand, how many failures cut you at the knees, leaving you to re-build your would be empire? What if that mistake could have been avoided?
I have made these mistakes in my own personal career, losing tens of thousands of dollars. Money that could have been put to better use and my company would have been stronger for it. I made these mistakes because I was thinking in a vacuum, and have some pretty strong persuasion skills. I would bounce these ideas off of my partners and prepared to defend them tooth and nail, wearing down any opposition until I was victorious. However, once the money was spent, it was too late. “We”, or rather “I”, put the veritable “cart” before the “horse”.
There were multiple problems with this scenario:
- My partners and I were too close to the business to see the pitfalls in the idea. Everything we were going to do was going to be a monumental success. We were blind to other factors affecting market penetration in this particular segment.
- Partnership dynamics can be a fragile relationship. One partner may overlook his/her own hesitations to appease the other. It’s a give and take relationship that has no place in business.
- Failure to plan. We failed to plan out how we would penetrate the market in this particular segment. So we did things out of order.
So how do you mitigate these risks?
There is a reason why large companies have a board of directors. They are responsible for the direction of the company and voting on key decisions. Small businesses don’t usually have a board of directors helping to guide their business. So what are small businesses to do?
Small businesses should have a board of advisors or, at the very least, a few mentors. These can be paid or non-paid individuals. Helping the community is the key driver when volunteering to sit on a small business’ board of advisors. Some small business will even pay the members of their board. Meetings are held at different frequencies throughout the year, but they are paid only for each meeting they attend. They don’t even have to be partners in the business. There are some great resources, like SCORE, out there to help small businesses in this area. I wrote a post on these resources here if you’d like to learn more.
Your local Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start networking with local business owners and active community members. Additionally, research local business networking events and start attending. The more you open yourself up to these events and organizations, the more you will build your network and increase the likelihood of finding mentors and advisors.
Get involved in your local business community today and remember to “Stop Doing the Mundane, and Start Getting Weird!”