Who is your Banker, Accountant, Insurance Broker, and Lawyer? As a business owner you can readily identify these key relationships that were needed to get your business off the ground.


If you want to grow, what relationships do you need beyond the four above? The greatest growth for entrepreneurs occurs when they have strong supporting relationships.


Let’s focus on you as the business leader. How do you need to grow?


Here are some recommendations to consider.


Do you have a mentor? If not, find one.


It can be an individual, a team of advisors, or a mastermind group. Find someone who has; “Been there and done that.”  Mentors have experience in the business sector or profession and can give specific advice. This is a relationship through mutual agreement. The cost is the time invested by both of you.


How about a coach? The difference between a coach and a mentor; the coach is not necessarily an expert in the exact business sector. However, your coach will have expertise in drawing out answers from you. They will bring different perspectives, challenge your thinking, and help you build clarity on the direction you are taking your business.  A coach is usually a trained and certified professional paid for their services.


Next, think of where you engage your clients. If you work in a geographic region, consider geographic relationships. If you are virtual or international, how can you connect with others in a similar situation. What would be most valuable?


Personally, I am a member of groups locally, virtually, and by business sector. By sector I am in different groups to support my growth in the several areas of coaching:  leadership, team, and career transition. What makes sense for you?


You may join a group based on the sector of your business, say manufacturing. You may also join groups focused on areas of your business such as, marketing or logistics.


Groups to consider. Think about researching mastermind groups. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are by sector i.e., real estate, e-commerce, consulting, government contractors. Others are general such as small business owners. They will meet regularly and have some kind of payment to be a member.


Local organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Centers, APEX Accelerators (government contracting assistance), and private professional organizations are valuable to explore.


Consider exploring incubators, accelerators, and state and local government programs with the mission to assist entrepreneurs. Most will require an application process as they are focused on a specific, such as; size, business sector, or demographics.


A must have for every small business is a relationship with a local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). They are the local arm of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and provide counselors, training, education, advice, and other resources for business owners. Many services are free or a very low cost.


As an entrepreneur you will be building a small eco-system to support your development and the development of your business. Your growth will be significantly affected by the relationships you build and maintain.


To grow as an entrepreneur be strategic and deliberate with your relationships.


Did you miss the previous blog post in the entrepreneur series?  Find it here.

Ever have an interaction with a business that had you talking to yourself; “Why in the world are they in business? That was an awful experience. If I ran that business this is what I would do.” As an entrepreneur you have the opportunity to make your business exactly how you want it. The first step to creating that great experience is to know why you chose to start your business.

As you read in the Coaching Entrepreneurs’ overview, I believe creating a business has two phases; the research phase and the action phase. This post will focus the details of “The Research Phase”. Think of this phase as researching how you are a fit for a particular business.

This phase has three elements; drivers, vision, and what business. Let’s exam each.

What is pushing you to start this business? Exploring the origin of this push is extremely important.

Some common reasons; a family history of entrepreneurship, being frustrated with a problem and having an innovative solution. The desire to create generational wealth, improve the community by creating jobs, the desire to apply a unique skill set, or turn a hobby into a money-making venture. These are all good reasons but, what is yours?

Your reason is tied to your values. Those principles of living, most important to you. Every day you seek to align your actions with your values. As a leader you work to create an environment that fulfills your values.

When we are out of alignment with our values we are stressed. It takes mental and physical energy to try to get aligned. As leaders we work to create an environment that fulfills our values. When aligned it is easy to progress towards a goal. Particularly when the entire team in aligned.

In a coaching engagement we will work to identify and define your top values. Why? Because this is what drives you and serves as the guide for your path forward.

A transitioning veteran was in the final stages of purchasing a franchise, when the franchisor dropped him for a larger investor. He learned money was the driver for the franchisor which was out of alignment with him. His focus was on starting small and building community. The veteran redoubled his efforts to find a franchisor aligned with his values of building relationships and creating community. He currently is running a successful gym.

You have a vision of your business; one, three and five years, in the future. As your coach, I help you define and refine that vision; revenue, customer base, impact, growth, and number of employees.

I challenge your assumptions and assist you in creating a realistic vision and path forward. Optimism and unrealistic expectations can abound in the early stages when thinking about your business. As a coach I help you create the range of possibilities and assists you to ask the right questions.

I was working with a client planning on a sole source vendor for critical supplies. Their great rapport and positive relationship gave her confidence. I worked on challenging her thinking, which proved beneficial when supply chain issues challenged every sector in 2020.

What Business
This is about assisting you to define your business. The match of your drivers, skills, and readiness influences your thinking on the business you are creating. Understanding the fit of all the elements is critical. You started this journey with a solid idea of your future business, this defines and refines it.

I was working with an individual wanting to transition from the corporate world into entrepreneurship in one leap. As we worked through her skill set, passions, and current market she changed her mind. Rather she decided to create her business as a side hustle and grow it while still maintaining her corporate position. This reduced her risk and allowed her to bootstrap her business. That came from building an understanding of how her passion and needs intersected.

We all want to jump right in and prove we can own and run a business. However, spending time in the research phase with a coach can be invaluable. Partnering with a coach to slow down and build clarity around your business has the potential to speed up your success.

“I am looking at starting my own business.”

“Great what type of business?”

“I am not exactly sure. I am leaning heavily in the direction that will use my leadership and IT skills.”

“What type of research have you done?” “I have done a little. I’ve talked to a colleague of mine who has an IT business on the side and a couple of business owners in my area.”

This is a real conversation I had with a coaching client. Many of these conversations result in creating a business. So how do you go about starting a business?

The purpose of this blog post is to give you an overview of the areas I coach around to help clients get their business off the ground.

There are really two big broad categories in starting a business; 1) The Research Phase and 2) The Execution Phase.

The Research Phase is where you build clarity around why you are starting the business, what problem the business is solving, and how you plan on putting the business in place.

The Execution Phase is all about action. Writing a business plan, building relationships needed to execute the business, and prototyping and testing your ideas.

This will serve as an overview and follow-on blogs will have more details of the specifics.

The Research Phase
This phase has three areas. Drivers, Vision, and The Business.

What is driving you to start a business? This question can be harder than you think. A common answer; “For the freedom, independence, and autonomy it brings. I want to be my own boss.” “Okay how is your business going to create freedom and autonomy for you? Are you buying a business that is profitable and running well or starting something from scratch?” We all have to answer to someone.

My goal is always to assist my client in building clarity for around why start a business then how. I am always curious to get to the root of their ambition.

What I found is, most entrepreneurs have one or two key values driving them. Once identified, defined, and articulated the path forward begins to clear.

What do you want this business to look like in 1, 2, and 5 years. Having at least a rough vision of the future is another key. It provides a destination and therefore a path forward.

What Business
Most individuals start with a concept or category they want to get into. Others start with their skill set and want to create a business that will capitalize on their strengths. Either approach works. Starting with a category will lead to how your strengths will make you successful. Conversely, starting with evaluating your skill set will logically lead to a category or type of business where there is a good fit.

Your assessment will build more detail and clarity as you get deeper into your research. It will also solidify your purpose for pursuing entrepreneurship. Your “Why” becomes clearer.

Next is to begin looking at “How” which is the Execution Phase.

The Execution Phase
This phase is about taking action.

Business Plan
Your business plan forces you to stop talking and start writing. Putting your thoughts and plans in writing commits you to an initial path. As you write you will vacillate between clarity and uncertainty, driving further research and action. Exactly what you need.

Your plan has multiple purposes, the two most important are to hold you accountable to yourself and as a tool to justify funding by investors. It is your metric to measure progress.

The most important area of the plan is your financing. Startup costs, pricing, and 3 years of revenue projections. Once you create this model you are forced to confirm your assumptions, which makes the driving force for your education.

Here are a few questions to start your education. Do you know the rate of self-employment taxes, the requirements for payroll, or workers compensation? You will now.

You will not build or run this business on your own. Even if you are a one-person professional services enterprise such as a consultant. You will require a team to support you. Off the top of your head who do you think will comprise your team?

The bare minimum team will be your Banker, Accountant, Insurance Broker, and Lawyer (BAIL). “What! Are you kidding me, I don’t have that kind of money to fund those folks.” Yes, you will. They are not full-time employees however, they are key components of your business, particularly as you are getting started.

The above five areas are the starting point. My sense is that after reading this you have assessed yourself in each area and put yourself on the spectrum of: clarity – uncertainty. More details in the next post.