business mentor

What you really need when starting your own business (other than a business plan)

If you have decided you want to start your own business and you probably have a lengthy list of to-dos to get your business off the ground, like:

  • Write business plan
  • Get business license
  • Build website
  • Set up accounting system (if this isn’t on your list, it should be)
  • Open doors and be successful

Of course, there are many more tasks that should be on that list and most new business owners miss one majorly important item: assemble your mentors or, as I like to call them, your Cheerleaders.

Last month, I shared my process on how I chose an alternate path in building my business. Remember the tale of the tortoise and the hare? I was the tortoise. Slow and steady helped me win my race, but what you also need in any race is cheerleaders. Cheerleaders are the people that not only cheer for you when you are winning, but those people that support you when you feel like you are losing. Cheerleaders are the voices of reason when your thoughts go sideways. While you may have family members or friends that cheer for you unconditionally, you also need cheerleaders that have been where you are and can see your situation objectively.

My Cheerleaders

While I always knew that I would eventually own my own business, that didn’t necessarily mean that I know how to go about it. As I mentioned, I started my process slowly by contracting my services while I still had a full-time job. Part of my process included stepping into the networking arena to meet other business owners. This was a fantastic way for me to make connections and create a name for myself in this new world and, thankfully, I also met two people that became my main cheerleaders.

One was a financial advisor named Jim. Jim is smart and well-connected and has been in his industry for over 20 years. He’s the kind of person that knows someone in just about any industry. Need a plumber? Jim knows someone. Mechanic or estate planner, same thing – Jim knows someone. Not only was he well-connected, but he was also fun to be around, and we quickly became friends.

Early on in my business-owner life, he was a great sounding board on financial decisions I needed to make. Making money decisions as new business owner can be scary, but he helped me see beyond my fears. With his guidance, we were able to determine when it would be financially feasible to leave my full-time job and go completely solo. He was able to help me objectively see the best way manage my money and how to spend it wisely. As time went on, our friendship grew into an official business relationship and now Jim is also my personal financial advisor.

Through the same networking group, I also meet an incredibly smart tax attorney named Cathie. Like Jim, Cathie is successful and a veteran in her industry and knows the ins and outs of running a business. Cathie and I are in the same general industry and she was generous with her insights on running a successful business. One insight that has served me well was regarding client management. As a new business owner, there are many myths you believe, like thinking you must take any work you can get, even if the client is not a good fit. Cathie was there to help me see beyond the newbie business owner beliefs and to help me see my worth and the value of my time. Thanks to Cathie, many headaches were alleviated and avoided, and I feel like I have more control of my business.

Both Jim and Cathie started off as business contacts that became friends and eventual business partners. Whenever I had an issue or felt like I was losing the race, I knew that I could turn to them for advice and encouragement. Because they had once been in my shoes, they could understand where I was coming from and provide insight and support in ways that others couldn’t. Not only were they there to celebrate my successes with me, I knew that if I was having a bad moment, they would help me through it. My cheerleaders provided encouragement, guidance, support, comradery, and the confidence to grow my company in a way that worked for me.

Going forward, I am excited that I now get to be the cheerleader for my clients. I am truly invested in their success, and I try to support them as best as I can with accounting services and beyond. I am also excited that I have recently had the opportunity to work with the Santa Fe Business Incubator to provide guidance to new and emerging businesses. It’s an amazing thing – when you have great cheerleaders on your team, it really makes you want to be a cheerleader for someone else.