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The 5 Most Important People for Entrepreneurs to Have on Their Side

in Do What You Love, People & Products

This is a guest post from David Bakke. In addition to running a reselling business, David shares his personal finance and small business tips on the Money Crashers financial blog.

The life of a entrepreneur comes with many benefits. Entrepreneurs don’t have to answer to bosses, and they can work whenever and wherever they want, allowing them significant independence and freedom.

Many successful entrepreneurs, however, realize that they don’t possess expertise in every aspect of their business. To succeed, they require the assistance of expert advisors and mentors.

While this might sound costly, these people do not need to occupy space on your payroll. You can often find advisors when you begin a business networking group, or when you informally network with family and friends. Additionally, bartering can be an excellent way to acquire assistance – offer your services in exchange for help.

Advice can come from all angles, but there are 5 people who will be most helpful to you as you develop your business.

5 Most Helpful People for an Entrepreneur to Know

1. Financial Mentor

Entrepreneurs need to have a solid financial mentor in order to succeed. This person can assist you with a number of tasks related to finances, including budgeting monthly expenses on an inconsistent income, reviewing available health insurance options, and offering advice on how to save for retirement.

My mother is my financial mentor. She has given me countless tips on how to proceed with my financial goals, and following her expert advice has saved me thousands of dollars. If you don’t have someone in your life that fits this description, find one. Consult with family, friends, and coworkers to find someone who can help you with financial goals.

2. Accountant

Develop a relationship with a qualified accountant so you can utilize some of their services at no cost to you. Working with an accountant or just receiving advice from an expert mentor can help you build your business.

Creating spreadsheets and mock profit and loss statements to measure your success can tie up your time. Consulting with an accountant can help you focus on the critical aspects of your business. An advisor or mentor can also introduce a better accounting method or software option to use until you can afford to hire an accountant.

3. A Fellow Entrepreneur

Fellow entrepreneurs can also provide valuable input for running your business. This mentor should understand the ins and outs of self-employment, and can work in any industry. In fact, finding an entrepreneur in an industry completely unrelated to your business can be beneficial, as it eliminates any competitive concerns.

Having a fellow entrepreneur to lean on provides you with a direct avenue of support. They may have had success with advertising methods that you haven’t tried, or have connections with direct-mail houses or printers in your area. Perhaps this advisor has had experience with a situation that you now face for the first time. This is also a good way to find the right business partner.

If you can’t barter and offer this mentor free services, you can build a referral partnership, sharing information about your advisor’s business with clients.

4. Lawyer

Depending on the size and complexity of your business, you should consider retaining the services of a lawyer, or ideally, have an attorney friend who can offer you tips and advice for free or for a greatly reduced price. A lawyer can help you establish your business and provide input toward its development. Some of the ways an attorney can help an entrepreneur include:

  • Incorporating. Ask an attorney to help you with the tax and legal issues involved with incorporating your business.
  • Lawsuit Protection. By establishing a relationship with an attorney, you have someone to turn to in the unfortunate event of a lawsuit.
  • Trademark Registration. The complexities of trademark law should be investigated and overseen by a qualified attorney.
  • Contracts. The correct wording in your contracts ensure that you cover all of your bases.
  • Investor Agreement Assistance. An attorney can ensure that agreements for partnerships and investors are clearly defined, including the distribution of assets and liabilities.
  • Selling Your Business. Engaging the services of a lawyer to help you sell your business ensures a successful transition.

Get referrals from people in your network to find the best lawyer for your business. Clearly communicate your needs with your attorney, and discuss potential future needs as well. If you don’t need a full-time lawyer, find an attorney that offers services on an as-needed basis.

5. A Creative Person

Try to foster a relationship with a creative person. This person might work in advertising, art, graphic design, writing, or might just have a creative approach to business. This mentor can help you come up with solutions to unusual problems, and may offer insights into advertising and website design.

The success of a business can often hinge on your ability to operate “outside of the box.” Tips provided by creative-minded people can help you make sweeping changes by offering a fresh perspective on your business.

Barter for Services

Although you might understand the need for these five advisors, your business may not have the capability to hire five new employees. However, you can exchange your professional expertise and services with professional advisors and barter for the services you need to help you reach your business goals.

I currently work with a financial mentor, a fellow entrepreneur, and a creative advisor, and their services do not cost me anything. I am skilled at writing, and have offered technical writing, editing, and promotional copy services in exchange for the services that they provide to me.

If you don’t have anyone in mind, check out the various bartering and swapping websites for potential opportunities.

Final Thoughts

Many people will offer services or advice for free, simply because they like to see other entrepreneurs succeed. You just have to find the right mix of people for your specific business needs.

Ask friends, family, and coworkers to help you find expert advisors. Look for networking groups online, too. Expanding your network of contacts benefits your small business and leads to success.

Have you had success bartering for services? What other types of advisors do entrepreneurs need to improve their chances of success?

We’d love to know your thoughts!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager May 18, 2012 at 1:36 PM

What a great list of people to have on your side. Sounds like the start of a great support/ cheer team too!

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Leah E-H May 18, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Good advice! Thanks for the article!

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Amber Goodenough May 18, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Love this list! I would agree with all of those people. For my small business I also needed a marketing person since that is not my area of expertise. We have technical know-how and we were able to trade a website update for some free PR. Worked out great for us and them. But if you are a small business owner without marketing skills, find someone fast!

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Frugal Portland May 18, 2012 at 5:08 PM

I wonder how often these are five different people!

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Lee Davy May 20, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Hi David,

Great post. I just wanted to back up what you said about not having to have these five people on the payroll. In fact I would go one further and welcome the challenge to attract them without paying them. There are a multitude of ways to do this like exchanging working practices, but just realising that you DONT have to pay gets your mind to work finding these people in the first place.

Lee

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Carl Lassegue May 22, 2012 at 7:44 PM

I enjoyed this article. All of these people are essential but the most important can turn out to be #5. Your creativity can be the thing that sets you apart from other businesses, and having a creative person in your inner circle will help inspire you to find unconventional solutions to your problems.

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Felicia May 23, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Hi.
Great business advice. I really like the idea of bartering. Everyone can benefit. Thanks!

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John Corcoran May 25, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Well, I guess since I am a lawyer I have to agree with #4, or else I’d be an embarrassment to my profession.

I’d actually say see if you can become friends with a lawyer (or an accountant too, and the other categories as well) so that you can ask a “quick question” without feeling guilty, getting shot down, or having to pay a big bill. One of the major problems with the legal profession (which still hasn’t been solved) is that lawyers are so damn expensive that people tend not to go to them when they need to — until it’s too late. So it’s helpful to be able to bounce a legal question off a lawyer on the front end to prevent a very big bill on the backend.

Nice post!

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Janith Randeniya - Let's Learn Finance June 4, 2012 at 1:03 AM

Hopefully Number 5. Creative Person is something you can find in yourself, as an entrepreneur.

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