5 people to meet on your entrepreneurial journey

No business owner walks alone. We all work inside an ecosystem, a community, that supports our efforts and enables us to turn our passion into entrepreneurial success. Here’s 5 people that should be a part of that village.

5 people to meet on your entrepreneurial journey.

The customer, or client

The only thing you need, to be “in business”, is a customer. Without the customer you may have an idea for a business, but you aren’t in business. Therefore, the customer, or client, is often the first person we meet on our entrepreneurial journey.

At first these clients are hard to come by. We treat them well, often underselling our value and over delivering our services just to make sure they are happy and don’t leave! While it’s true that happy customers fuel business growth, when we provide too much value we can starve our business of the profits it needs to grow. Also, by over-delivering and over pleasing we many not earn the respect we need to make a big impact on our client’s lives and businesses.

The client teaches you the value of your work.

The referral partner

Finding enough leads to grow your business is hard work; especially when you are delivering all the services yourself! It’s so much easier when you can find someone who values what you do (and, ideally, when you value what they do) who can refer your services to their clients and prospects. Someone with whom you have worked to develop trust; someone who sees people who are your ideal clients as part of what they do, and can simply introduce you (hopefully with a good word and a leg up on the sale).

When we find these people, they are like gold. They are better than a client – they are like 10 clients! Per year! If it’s possible for you to give them referrals back then that’s ideal, you’ve got a situation that can last.

Your referral partner teaches you how to scale.

The team

Eventually you’ll need some help. Maybe the team is helping you to deliver your services, or maybe they are just freeing you up to do more of what you are great at. Either way, you need to get some help.

Our first attempts at hiring are usually somewhat haphazard. I mean, who has time to write a job posting, sort through resumes, phone screen candidates, interview…it’s a giant pain! There’s this guy I know from high school, he’ll be perfect…

But he’s not perfect. He’s a disaster. Well, you both are actually. You hired him without really knowing what you wanted him to do, and without really knowing what he was good at…

After a few false starts, hopefully you find some team members who are solid, who know what they are doing, and can actually grow with your business. That’s when things really start to take off.

Your team teaches you how to create systems.

The peer

As a business owner, we have few people in our lives who truly know what our life is like day-to-day. The stress, the challenges, the disappointments, the wins and losses; it’s hard to understand unless you’ve been there. But when the only other business owners you know are people you’ve met at the Chamber of Commerce or in your networking group, they may not be much help. When we meet other business owners in a business context, it’s hard to be vulnerable. We don’t want to tell our referral partner that we haven’t closed a deal in 3 months and cash flow is stretched and we are asking ourselves if we should keep going! But we need to tell somebody.

This is when it’s great to have peer support. Just a handful of business owners that you aren’t “in business with” but who share you struggles. There are all kinds of places to find this: business owner roundtable groups, mastermind groups, industry specialty groups with similar businesses in different markets. The point is that you need to find one. You need someone you can share your ups and downs with, someone who really understands what you’re going through.

Your peers give you a true measuring stick; they teach you what’s you and what’s just “the business”.

The expert

If you are lucky, and work hard, and get good advice, and serve clients well, chances are good that you will grow your business to the point where you have hard problems. Problems that your peers haven’t solved. Problems that need an expert.

The expert is someone who is outside your business, or maybe even outside your industry, who can come in and look at your business with fresh eyes. The expert isn’t your friend, and isn’t afraid to insult you. The expert will tell you the truth and push you into uncomfortable changes that you wouldn’t make on your own.

The expert could be a coach, or a consultant, or a retired business owner who’s been down the road you’re on. But you will need one. It’s good to start keeping your eyes open now, have a short list, and be ready to invest when the time comes.

The expert will teach you to get out of your own way.

None of us has everything we need to make our business a success. We all need some help. Look for these helpers as you walk along your entrepreneurial journey.

Were there any we missed? Who have you met that has helped you?

Pro Membership CTA Dec 2014

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