A friend of mine who is also a small business owner both looks forward to and dreads the summer. She looks forward to it because, of course, who doesn’t love summer, especially where I live in Southern California? She also looks forward to it because that’s when her two kids are home—but that’s also part of why she dreads it.
As a home-based entrepreneur, during the school year she’s got a nice block of time each day when she can focus solely on her business with the kids off at school. But when school lets out, the juggling act kicks in. Just getting to a midday client meeting requires a complex dance that on any given day could involve babysitters, family members, playdates, drop-offs and pick-ups with the realization that the clock is always ticking.
It takes a village to make a home-based business work when you have kids. And really, the same is true of any successful small business owner. Whether you’re a parent or not, married or single, a one-person business or the head of a thriving company with 50 employees, smart small business owners rely on a network for help.
Who’s in your village? Here are some of the “villagers” every small business owner should have on their team.
- A lawyer. You don’t need to spend tons or keep an attorney on retainer. Use your connections to tap into attorneys with experience in small business who are willing to work with you at reasonable rates. Save money by using a template to create contracts and other legal documents, but have an attorney review them or you’re being penny-wise and pound-foolish.
- An accountant. A good accountant is worth his or her weight in gold—sometimes literally. Use your accountant’s know-how and expertise to tap into more than just bookkeeping skills. Your accountant can advise you on everything from what employee benefits make financial sense to whether your plan to expand is perfectly timed or premature.
- A board of advisers. Sounds fancy, right? In reality, you don’t need an official “board of advisers”—an informal group of fellow business owners that you can share your frustrations with, bounce ideas off of and brainstorm with is a great help for any entrepreneur (especially those who run solo businesses or don’t have key employees to strategize with).
- A personal support system. Running a small business is exhilarating, but can sometimes be exhausting. To keep going, you’ll need encouragement and understanding from those closest to you—your parents, spouse, significant other, friends and/or kids. Make sure your family buys into your dream and will stand behind you all the way.
Of course, one great place to find your village—from legal and accounting advice to mentorship and brainstorming—is at SCORE. Visit www.score.org to learn more.