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Succeeding as a new entrepreneur might seem more challenging now than ever before. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20 percent of new businesses don’t survive for more than a year, and nearly half survive only five years.
Looking through the lens of COVID-19, recent reports show that millions of businesses could close in the next few months, depending on the ongoing impact of the crisis. However, this shouldn’t dissuade you from your path of business ownership—some of the most successful businesses in history started during a recession.
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The key is to connect with the right professionals to make your life easier. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, make sure to connect with the following five people:
Certified Personal Accountant
Having a financial expert and advisor in your corner is essential, and a certified public accountant is one of the best options.
According to Investopedia: “Running out of money is a small business’ biggest risk. Owners often know what funds are needed day-to-day, but are unclear as to how much revenue is being generated, and the disconnect can be disastrous.”
A CPA will help you understand and optimize your finances to ensure long-term success. What’s more, CPAs will also make sure that the following tasks are done correctly:
- Leveraging appropriate tax deductions: You can’t afford to leave money on the table or pay more taxes than you need to without deducting your business expenses. CPAs identify and advise on how to best deduct and potentially even make end-of-year investments for the best outcome.
- Forecasting future finances: CPAs help you plan for the future, using data to support their decision, so you know when to make investments, how to best allocate resources, and when it’s wise to scale.
- Managing audits: A recent survey of 1,000 business owners found that 28 percent were audited or received a notice from the IRS. A financial professional will ensure you’re adequately prepared for an audit and help you through the complex process, should it happen.
- Preparing for the unexpected: During the pandemic, businesses applied for government relief programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). When disaster strikes, these programs can provide imperative support, but can be difficult to navigate. According to Mark McKee, the President and COO of OnPay, of the businesses that applied for PPP, 73 percent said their accountant’s advice was important during the process.
Business, marketing or sales coach
Doubt and apprehension can be detrimental to a new business owner, manifesting itself in a case of imposter syndrome.
Ann Vertel, executive leadership speaker and founder of the Vertel Group, explains to Entrepreneur: “When it hits new business owners, the effects are both subtle and powerful, causing them to doubt their accomplishments and preventing them from taking necessary risks. Left unchecked, imposter syndrome can derail your entire business.”
Certified coaches exist in all verticals and can help you step up to the plate to take on new responsibilities while building confidence in yourself. Different coaches offer value in different areas, so here are a few to consider:
- Marketing coach: As a business owner, you are your own best marketing asset, with your expertise, excitement and authenticity. For example, a social media coach can specifically help you harness that authenticity to craft the right message and reach potential customers and clients on the platforms where you’re likely most active.
- Sales coach: All leaders need a foundation in sales. In their sales coaching guide, the experts at Lessonly explain that sales coaching focuses on skills more than numbers or hard selling techniques, and that coaching ultimately builds overall confidence.
- Business coach: General business coaching focuses on you and your journey as a business owner. You work together to tap into all the personal and professional elements that go into running and growing a business.
One challenging aspect of starting a business is breaking into your industry. While fellow business owners might be seen as the competition, they’re actually valuable assets. Networking is the way to reach them, along with other like-minded individuals who might serve as partners and vendors to support your startup’s growth.
As the Harvard Business Review explains, “Professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster advancement, and greater status and authority.”
Make it easy for yourself and find a networking expert to help you break into the scene. This might be someone who can introduce you to the right people and offer advice on which type of events and networking platforms are best. The beauty of power networkers is that they thrive on connecting others, they understand the ropes and they want to welcome new members to existing groups.
Website developer and designer
Building a website can be challenging if you’re not tech-savvy; a developer and designer will make your life easier. Sure, you can hack it with a DIY website builder, but your best value is in running your business, not teaching yourself how to build websites. A critical lesson to learn as an entrepreneur is that time is money. By cutting corners, you spend way more time than necessary on tasks (like building and managing a website), when it could have been cheaper and faster to hire a professional.
Plus, ongoing maintenance may require the help of a professional, and having a developer on speed dial can eliminate that stress. Remember to ask folks in your network for recommendations; a genuine testimonial is invaluable in selecting a web developer.
Whether official or unofficial, having a mentor to guide, support and encourage you is key to making it through the first few years. Research by Endeavor found that 33 percent of the most successful startups had founders who were mentored by other successful entrepreneurs, and that mentorship was a significant predictor of overall performance.
Unlike a coach, a mentor is typically unpaid, and is someone who’s more experienced and has been on the entrepreneurial path for many years already. He or she is an expert in his or her industry and is able to provide insights and support when you come up against challenges and frustrations.
Connect with the right professionals at the start to level up your business
Novice entrepreneurs must learn to juggle more roles and responsibilities than ever before; all while having the confidence, energy and drive to lead their company. It can feel like a herculean task, but there are professionals available who can make your life easier and your business more successful. While it’s a natural inclination to be lean and bootstrap, establishing working relationships with CPAs, developers and coaches is well worth the investment in time and money.