By Abhi Golhar, host of Real Estate Deal Talk and managing partner of Summit & Crowne.
No one starts a small business knowing everything they need to know. Even the most well-educated and experienced businesspeople will find there's always something to learn. While you can learn things as you go (or if you're just starting out like I did in 2002), it will likely take more time than you have. Streamline the process by finding mentors like these:
You can't make a small business successful without delving into the law. Lawyers will keep you safe from litigation and tell you what you need to do to make sure your company is legally covered. They can also help with financing and make sure your intellectual property is properly protected.
I work in two worlds: the real estate space and as a co-founder of a healthcare startup. In both industries, I've seen litigation destroy businesses because the business owners didn't cover their bases from the very beginning. As I pursue my projects in the healthcare space, I face various challenges, from HIPAA compliance to securing client files.
Who helped me sort through everything? My attorney. Having a legal team that evolves to your needs is crucial to ensuring growth while being covered legally.
Human Resource Experts
On paper, hiring doesn't seem that difficult. You want a job filled, so you get someone with the right skills. However, it can often get grittier than that. How will you know how much experience is required or appropriate?
Human resource experts and recruiters will know. They'll tell you your small business needs and will help you create a job description that will attract the right kind of people. Make sure they're present during interviews so they can help you decide who to hire. I look at potential hires only if they have been referred from folks I know in my industry. A good human resource expert helps tremendously here because they'll pick out exactly what you need.
Running a small business is a unique adventure. Its challenges are unlike what most people will ever face in their lives. The only people who can give you advice on those challenges are people who have been or are in the same boat.
When you're lost, talk to another business owner. They know what you're going through and will likely have some insight on what action to take next. I could never imagine running my businesses without my business partners. There are too many tasks during any given day for one person to do. I rely on them just as much as they rely on me to be in the trenches daily.
It takes more than just having capital to make a small business work. You need to manage your money. It's easy to end up overspending if you don't have a good eye on it.
Enter the accountant. Accountants give you a clear idea how your company is doing financially, and can tell you where to cut back and when you have room to spend. My accountant is incredible: She has saved me time and money. The best part is, every time I meet with her, I always learn something I can be doing better. They are trained to see what's invisible to the business owner.
Sometimes, the people you need to find have been there all along. There's a life outside your business; one that you shouldn't neglect. No one will help you deal with that like friends and family.
They will serve as a constant reminder that you do not exist for the business. They will keep you grounded when your ego threatens to run away from you. No one else will know how to keep your energy up when it lags. My family is the reason I got into business in the first place, so I can use business proceeds to buy more time to spend with them.
In theory, you can run your small business without mentors or people helping you out. In practice, they can make the journey a lot easier and help improve your performance. So go find your mentors quickly: The sooner you find them, the sooner they can help you.
Abhi Golhar is host of the daily radio show, Real Estate Deal Talk and managing partner of Summit & Crowne, a real estate investment firm.