Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to do everything themselves. Taking on tasks that are out of your area of expertise is unwise. There are several things you shouldn’t do yourself when starting a business.
If you have a great idea and no idea how you’re going to fund it, you need independent financial advice. That means seeking help from an accountant or business development professional who is responsible to you and has nothing to gain, or even is prohibited, from lending you money. Creating the appropriate financial structure for your company may involve banks, loans, investors, and signing papers that create serious financial commitments. You’ll also have to file your taxes, even in years when you didn’t make any money, which often happens in the first few years of a start-up company.
And speaking of financial structures and signing things, starting a business involves complying with laws and regulations. Unless you’ve earned your law degree, currently hold a law license in your state, and specialize in business law, don’t try to wing it. An experienced lawyer will help you determine the best structure for your business, what documents and papers you’ll need to file and what the associated fees are, and what kind of insurance you should get. You must also plan for what your obligations will be to any employees you hire.
If you’re OK using computers but have no idea how to set up a secure office network or how to set up connectivity for multiple workstations and employees, hire a certified cable installer to ensure you have the right kind of connections, and enough of them, to keep your network up and running in your workplace. A professional installer can organize cables to be as unobtrusive as possible while still making network connections accessible. Even wireless networks require some cabling to connect modems, routers, and servers.
Human resources is another area of professional expertise you shouldn’t try to handle on your own. You’ll know the skills you are looking for, but you may not know the legal ins and outs of the hiring process. Getting it wrong can doom your business from the start. Asking inappropriate questions in interviews, running ads with illegal or discriminatory criteria, or failing to get written consent to conduct background checks and contact references can all get you into big trouble. Recruiting and hiring the right people at the outset is critical to your business’s future success.
Successful marketing requires objectivity, data, and creativity. An experienced marketing professional can show you data that demonstrates what channels and media may work best for your business and what an appropriate marketing budget would look like.
Your job as a business founder is to get the business up and running with the help of professionals experienced in the process, and then to provide leadership and vision to your team. This is true whether you intend to stay small or are looking to grow exponentially. Even sole practitioners don’t go solo; they have lawyers, accountants, and freelancers helping them with contracts, tax forms, and payroll. Starting a business takes planning, capital, and help. Don’t try to do things you shouldn’t do yourself when you start your business.
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