I have found that having my own financial services business and being my own boss can be very satisfying. At the same time, it can be very challenging. In particular, decision making can be a lonely endeavor if you are the only or primary employee of your small business.
However, you don’t have to face the challenges of running a small business alone. There are numerous sources of free or paid advice for small business owners to help them successfully start and grow their businesses, including the following.
The Internet. The websites of the Small Business Administration (SBA) at http://www.sba.gov/ and of SCORE http://www.score.org/index.html , among others, have numerous resources and plenty of helpful information for small business owners. Importantly, they can be excellent sources of information and advice even before you start your business to help you ensure that your venture gets off on the right foot and has the best chance of success.
Local Small Business Associations. While websites can be a good place to start when looking for advice about starting and operating a small business, they are no substitute for talking to real people face to face. For that, find out if there is an organization in your community for small business owners. Often there is a group that meets regularly, possibly to share a meal, hear a speaker, attend a workshop, or just exchange ideas. Other owners of small businesses you meet there can be valuable sources of advice, based on real work experience, and of moral support for you and your business.
Mentors. Mentors are not just for those on a career path at a large organization. They can also be invaluable for small business owners. Finding a small business mentor may not be easy, so you may have to be proactive. Seek out someone who you are comfortable with on a personal level and who has experience in successfully starting and running a small business. Try to meet with your mentor regularly (probably at least once a month) and take preparing for those meetings seriously so that you are sure to discuss the topics most relevant to your business’s particular issues. Also, once your business is successful and thriving, take the time to be a mentor to other small business owners.
Business Consultants. Websites, contacts made at local small business associations, and mentors all can be excellent sources of free advice for small business owners. But you may find that, in some situations, you need to go further than that and pay for help. For example, if your small business is experiencing significant operational or financial challenges or if you are facing a crucial decision about your business, such as whether to make an acquisition, sell the company, take on a partner, raise additional equity capital, take the company public or make a dramatic strategic change, you may need advice from a professional business consultant. Although business consultants are not inexpensive, a good one may actually save you money by helping you make solid, objective decisions about issues that could significantly affect your company’s future.
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