Startup Lessons Learned is an informal series I share on occasion where I recap the questions I currently have within business. These can relate to business development, team building, scaling a business and really whatever else I’m wondering about as a business owner.
My hope with this series is for it to be a resource covering topics relevant to growing entrepreneurs and startups as we thrive together.
SURPRISE: I’m not a business expert.
I don’t have a background in business. I took some business classes in college and I remember liking them but not really loving them if you know what I mean. Now that I’m in the throws of business ownership, I wish I had paid more attention in those classes or at the very least, in accounting class.
I’m not a business expert. I am, however, pretty good at Google search and I’ve invested a significant amount of time researching the best answers to a plethora of business questions. I’ve also read countless blog posts on business development, team building, scaling a business and time management.
I’ve found great value in researching answers to questions and problems online through Quora, blog posts, YouTube and my local SBA. There is a ton of information out there and many entrepreneurs willing to share their experiences and lessons learned.
I still have (many) questions.
In the beginning, I felt overwhelmed by not knowing which questions were most important to ask, the order to ask those questions, and the reality that there were questions I didn’t even know to ask — the latter of which was probably the most overwhelming.
After more than a year in business, I’m feeling some financial and team stability. I want to maintain this stability while positioning the business for future growth. I’m confident that we have a bright future ahead of us even though I don’t know exactly what that will look like.
Here’s what I’m asking right now:
- How do our profit margins compare to other agencies?
- How much should we plan to grow next year?
- How should I adjust my salary to compensate for our adjusted revenue?
- How do we factor a pro-bono work into quarterly tax payments?
- How can we function more lean?
- What questions should I be asking?
- What processes need improved?
- Are we making poor choices in a given area of the business?
Notice how the last four questions seem to be particularly vague?
The questions I have now tend to be more along these lines. I think this is an indication that it’s time to experiment with bringing on an expert to assist with the areas of the business that are not my strong suit.
Why I think it’s time to call in help …
I don’t want to wait five years and find that I could have made minor changes to prevent major problems. I want to learn lessons now and adjust sails appropriately.
I’d like someone to come in who has the financial expertise and experience (specifically with other agencies) to advise me in the answers to the questions above and others I haven’t even thought to ask.
I’m bringing in an expert: Outcome TBA.
In the beginning, I didn’t have the budget to bring on a financial advising expert. Instead, I choose to go with a good accountant and continue my independent research through the meetings with colleagues, blogs and occasionally meeting with my SBA advisor.
That worked for more than a year. Now, I see the need and have the budget to get help from an expert.
So, this month, I’m testing the waters with a local (and virtual!) financial and business advising consultancy called, UpSourced Accounting. My goal is to bring them on as a business and financial advisor that goes into greater depth than a traditional accountant. They will be handling invoicing, payroll, accounting, book keeping and advising on the financial side of the business.
I’m really eager to dive in and gain all I can from working with their team. I’m going to be transparent about this process and share my experience with you all in a future Startup Lessons Learned post.
More to come on this … in the meantime, I’d like to ask YOU some questions:
Have you decided to bring on an expert to advise on an area of your business?
How did you know you were ready for help?
Did it work out?
What did you learn?