|Putting the pieces together to start your own business can be tough.|
It is National Entrepreneurship Week and several new entrepreneurs have approached me lately for advice. Some have been students and some have been later-in-life-career-change entrepreneurs. I certainly don’t have the market cornered on entrepreneurship but I have learned a lot of lessons along the way. I love sharing my story and I love learning from other business owners. There can be a certain collaborative spirit among entrepreneurs that is refreshing and inspiring. I want to be part of co-creating a new way of doing business that is meaningful and equitable. Here are 3 important lessons I have learned along the way.
1) Find your local resources. Every state has representation from the Small Business Administration (SBA). There are many resources available from the SBA besides just loans. Visit SBA online to find your local SCORE chapter (Service Corps Of Retired Executives), Business Development Center, Women’s Business Center, or Procurement & Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Many Community Colleges have entrepreneurial programs. Visit the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship to find one in your area. You can also check out the National Business IncubatorAssociation to find incubators in your area.
In Lincoln, Nebraska we have the Southeast Community College Entrepreneurship Center which includes an incubator program and the Nebraska Business DevelopmentCenter. Check out Community Development Resources for SBA and Micro loans.
|Eship Center at 285 S 68th St Pl, Lincoln, Nebraska|
2) Find a business coach. Most entrepreneurship and incubator programs include business coaching. However, if you decide not to go that route, find a business coach anyway. There are many types of personal coaches out there today. Life coaches, career coaches, personal fulfillment coaches, sales coaches, and organizational coaches abound. Each one is great for his or her particular specialty. However, business coaches focus specifically on the process of building and developing a business. A basketball coach is an expert on basketball. A football coach is an expert on football. A business coach is an expert on business. Makes sense, right?
Do an internet search for business coaches in your area, and then be sure to ask around, get references, and interview the coaches before you decide to buy. Personality fit is just as important as experience. If you don’t get along with someone or dread going to meet with them, you are going to hate writing them a check every month.
|Your support network is vital.|
3) Build a network of like-minded entrepreneurs. It is really difficult to exist in a bubble. It is, of course, possible, but then you have to invent everything for yourself all the time. If you can build a network of entrepreneurs that share your business philosophies, then you do not have to be all alone in the universe. It is so nice and comforting to be able to share your struggles (and there will be many, I promise) with others and be able to learn from their struggles as well. Sometimes it’s just nice to be able to compare credit card processin fees and accounting software.
In the beginning you will find that more established entrepreneurs have all the answers and that you have so much to learn. You might feel as though you will never reach enlightenment. Then there comes a point in time where you start sharing your wisdom and knowledge with others. It is surprising and satisfying to know that you actually have something to contribute to other people’s entrepreneurial journeys.
Seek out other entrepreneurs and look for entrepreneurial groups in your community. Look to your local Community Colleges and Universities. If you don’t have a group in your area, start one! People will flock to it for a sense of community, guidance, and camaraderie.
These are just 3 of the many lessons I have learned so far. What do you think is essential for starting your own business? What other resources should be included in this list?