Right now is a better time than it has ever been to jump in with two feet an pursue your dreams of entrepreneurship.  Increasing efficiencies and access to information provided by technology and social media means all of us have more tools and resources to start and grow a business than ever before.  But with the abundance of resources, how do you know where to start?  And what areas of your business are the most important for you to put your time, money and attention into at each stage?

An entrepreneur focused on growing a manufacturing business has great creative design and problem solving skills essential to creating their products.  Someone with a wonderful service-based business needs to have a wonderful mind for people and building relationships. But having strengths in your specific trade does not necessarily translate to strong business skills or even personnel management.

Every small business owner uses a strength they have to start a business that capitalizes on this strength. Although this asset is integral to the day to day running of the business, it doesn’t check all the boxes that running a small business requires. It is essential for small business owners to look at the big picture and to outsource the tasks that challenge them.

Investing in these challenges once identified in your business can pay dividends over time. If your weakness comes in the form of money management investing in a financial consultant can be a huge asset. If your business struggles with reaching more clients hiring a marketing firm or looking into online marketing options would be a great way to help grow your client list.  These seem like no brainers when spelled out but too many business owners, especially new ones, try to do it all themselves.  Not only will you burn out but you’ll end up giving everything less than 100% instead of giving your full attention to the tasks that matter most.

So when do you hire a professional?  You need to identify a litmus test for different areas.  For example, I tell business owners you need to hire a bookkeeper when you can no longer simply reconcile your bank accounts and credit card accounts by the first week of every month.  If you don’t have complete, reconciled and accurate financial statements by the 5th day of the following month, you’re not keeping up with your bookkeeping and it’s time to outsource. Your marketing and advertising budget should be around 7% of your revenue.  While you can build some DIY campaigns and then pay to promote them, at least part of that budget should be a well focused effort, with measurable goals, done by a professional.

Lastly, invest in yourself as the owner.  There is no litmus test for when you should hire a business coach.  You needed one before the ink dried on your formation documents.  Coaches give you a higher level view of your business than you’re currently seeing for yourself.  A coach will also do a deep dive with you into the areas of personal development that you as an owner most need to focus on in order to help you build sustained success.  Growing yourself personally is one of the best investments you can make in your business.

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