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DIY, But Ask For Help

The most beneficial approaches when starting a business is to learn from someone else’s experience, including their mistakes.

The point may be arguable, but there’s much to support the opinion that there’s never been a greater time to launch a small business or non-profit. Although the impact of energy prices, inflation, and other fluctuating negative factors can create unforeseen challenges, the visionary individual hoping to explore new opportunities has more tools at their disposal than could have even been imagined just ten years ago.

As technology has blossomed to include cloud-based data storage, new doors have been opened to allow business owners to work and collaborate in a virtually limitless capacity. The massive presence of social media enables self-promotion across a myriad of platforms, and venues such as YouTube and podcast hosting sites have provided an opportunity for owners of businesses and non-profits to share the message of their mission with a widespread audience. But even with this awe-inspiring toolkit, the prospect of navigating through the setup of a new enterprise can be completely daunting.

There are so many complications inherent in establishing a new business venture that many would-be entrepreneurs talk themselves out of even starting. From deciphering governmental regulations to unravelling the complexities of best practice strategies, a seemingly endless array of Information can loom in front of someone on the path to business startup. The end result can be a “can’t see the trees for the forest” scenario. Even once the new venture is up and running, the owner can still feel battered back and forth between the demands of day to day operations, struggling to navigate the challenges of operation while somehow trying to maintain focus on the vision for the business.

Perhaps the healthiest perspective for a new entrepreneur is to somehow strike a balance between learning everything possible to address the needs of the startup and realizing that it’s impossible for one person to know everything that’s needed. Despite the tremendous wealth of instructional and personal experience content that can be gleaned from YouTube, nothing can ever replace the in-person value of a mentor, someone who has already navigated the perilous waters of the business startup and lived to tell the tale. And yet, few owners of new businesses or non-profits ever reach out for the kind of input that only can be provided by someone who has “walked the walk”.

According to a survey of 200+ businesses that was conducted by the financial services platform Kabbage, Inc., 63 percent of new business owners never seek assistance from a mentor when first starting on their venture. Left to their own devices, would-be entrepreneurs might start their journey already well off course from what would be the most practical trajectory to success. Without the benefit of direct interaction with someone who’s already been down the path, misjudgments can be made at the onset that end up yielding unanticipated results further on.

There may be wisdom in many counselors, but starting a new business is definitely not a time to try to follow the advice of anyone and everyone. A key goal for the owner of a startup should be to actively seek out at least one credible voice to share guidance and to offer a frank appraisal of both the positive and negative aspects of what is already in place. No one likes to hear negative feedback, but those who attempt to start an enterprise mistakenly believing that they’re doing everything perfectly are doing a tremendous disservice to themselves and to the vision they hope to bring about.

Even the most focused individuals may not have a clear grasp of just how many moving pieces there are when establishing a business. Analyzing and documenting all the myriad factors required to support day to day operations can seem cumbersome, but failing to do so opens the door to unexpected problems born out of inconsistency. Before the new entrepreneur can even realize what’s happening, the fabric of the entire enterprise can already start unravelling, and the fresh demands of “putting out the fires” can sap every ounce of enthusiasm for moving forward.

The truth is, one of the most beneficial approaches when starting a business is to learn from someone else’s experience, including their mistakes. In the endless parade of demands associated with a startup, a mentor can provide the necessary input to ensure that a proper foundation is being laid. Guidance born out of personal experience can sometimes seem counter-intuitive to someone unfamiliar with the subject, but new business owners who can establish a relationship of trust with a mentor can reap benefits that will catapult their enterprise far beyond they otherwise would have accomplished.

ValorExcel offers training, coaching, and development services for nonprofits and small businesses. If you'd like to find out how we can help you reach your goals, contact us at or call 240-329-9387 today!

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