I Learned My Lesson: Not Every Hat Looks Good On Me

Here’s the thing about business owners (myself included): we just need to get things done. We will dig in, figure things out and knock those to-do’s off of our lists. Most of the time, we’re on our own. Sure, we have family and friends to talk to – sometimes business partners and employees even. But when it comes to our business decisions and plans, we tend to think that we’re on our own. Because we’re decisive and motivated, we charge ahead and get it done.

Running a small business, things move fast. I know for myself, sometimes I think that I don’t have time to stop and ask questions. But here’s what I’ve learned in the 14 months that I have been a small business owner: I need to find the right people to help me. Tapping into other people’s knowledge and experience can help me faster than I can figure it out myself. That was a huge eye-opening revelation for me because I am a do-it-yourselfer (I like to know how to do things).

But it doesn’t make sense when you’re trying to run and grow a small business – you can’t figure everything out on your own and still keep the pace you want to have. Not to mention, some things are just too complicated to figure out on our own. We don’t have the information we need. While I have a lot of knowledge about business law, there are many things about running a business that I don’t know.

As a small business owner, I need to find the right people to help me. I need to create an “external” team of resources that I can call on to provide the right information and guidance when I need it. I don’t have time to find someone every time I have a question. I need to already have the right person on speed-dial.

I’ve learned that lesson. Now I’m putting together my super-advisory team so that I can keep up with my rapidly growing business. It’s ironic that I am one of those advisors that my clients have on speed-dial and yet it has taken me a little over a year to learn the lesson that as a small business owner myself, I also need to have advisors on speed-dial. But I’m willing to admit my mistake – my DIY determination has not served me well.

In case there are other small business owners out there who are learning this same lesson – that you can’t grow your business without help – I’m sharing the list of positions on my super-advisory team. These are the people that are on speed-dial:

1. Website Guru (updates & changes, fixes problems, creates new features)
2. Marketing Helper (advises on how to reach the right people with the right message)
3. Bookkeeper (tracks expenditures, creates reports)
4. Accountant (prepares tax filings, advises on tax planning)
5. HR Consultant (advises on employee issues)
6. Lawyer (guides direction, navigates around pitfalls, reduces risk) *Of course, I play this role on my team!

There are others, I’m sure, that I will add to this team over the next several years. For now, at least I’ve stopped trying to do everything myself. I know that while I am capable of figuring it out, I really shouldn’t. As a small business owner, there are better uses of my time.