One of the biggest mistakes I made as a new small business owner was thinking that I could go it alone.
When I started my freelancing business six years ago, I really took the term “sole-proprietor” to heart. I didn’t tell friends, colleagues and family what I was doing so that they could recommend me via word of mouth. I didn’t reach out to others in my industry for mentorship, and I didn’t hire professionals to pick up the slack where I lacked knowledge.
I won’t hesitate to tell you that I was very wrong to try and take the path of the small business owning lone wolf. In fact, it was only when I reached out and started taking advice from colleagues in the freelance writing industry that my business really began to take off.
Don’t learn the hard way like I did. Find and hang on to the following business allies:
Most small business owners didn’t start their businesses because they love accounting (unless, of course, they’re accountants!) But tracking income and expenses, managing money and payroll, and correctly filing taxes are all vital parts of running a small business. If you have questions about your books or tax returns, it’s best to turn to professionals like the accounting team at Bookly.
As a brand new small business owner, I scoffed at the idea of sending each client a contract… until one day a client disappeared off the face of the earth without paying me. A good lawyer will help you protect yourself should a client relationship go bad. Further, a lawyer or a legal service like MyCorporation will help you choose the right business entity for your business. For example, maybe you’ve been operating as an LLC when you should be an S-Corp. A legal professional will be able to determine that for you and set you on the right path!
A Savvy Designer
Human beings buy first with their eyes. If your website or business card or brick and mortar store isn’t up to par, your potential customers may pass you over for a competitor – no matter who really has the best credentials. A good designer will help you represent your business with a professional logo, savvy branding and a look and feel that attracts the customers you want.
A Website Developer
Eighty-three percent of consumers go online to do research before making a purchase. Does your business have a website? If not, it’s time to get a talented website developer in your corner. Just like a designer, a web developer will ensure that the look, feel and functionality of your presence on the Internet reflects your business and draws your target customer.
Colleagues in Your Industry
As a neophyte freelancer writer, I had no idea that the best clients didn’t advertise jobs, or that I wasn’t charging nearly enough for my work. While it may seem odd to a novice to reach out to “competitors,” it’s actually a smart move to befriend others in your industry. They’ll help you find your feet, and you’ll soon find what experience professionals often know – there’s usually enough work to go around.
These are the people who will stand behind you and your business and recommend you to their friends and colleagues. Your first champions may be an old boss , a mentor, or even one of your earliest customers. Champions will often bolster you when you’re feeling down and help you find new customers through word of mouth.
-Zach Olson, CEO of Bookly