So you’re thinking about getting into the #Entrepreneurship game are ya? Well, WELCOME to most glorious way to #CreateYourOwnEconomy!
As most others start out, you’re likely dipping your toe into #SelfEmployment to start as a side-hustle. You’ve found an idea, and you may even have an idea on who you want to sell to. However, just as important as who will buy what you do are the people you have around you who can support what you do. There’s no doubt that having family and friends is important. However you may find that they may not understand this new path you’re taking and that support may not be as strong as you need.
When I started my path the first time into being a #BusinessOwner, I didn’t start with these connections, and I will tell you it did make getting started inevitability a lot more work. However, when I returned to Entrepreneurship after some time in the government sector these bridges are what made the transition a lot smoother and help keep me in the game!
Yes. As much as you read and hear stories about free grants available or bootstrapping your dream, any business is going to need a relationship with their banker to help through some sticky times. Try and make connections with three key players in any local bank. The Bank Manager, The Customer Service Manager. And the Small Business Banking Officer. That way if one leaves, you still have the comfort of support with the other two.
Why bankers? Think about additional fees such as cheque ordering or even NSF’s that you may need help with. Or perhaps temporary overdrafts or credit lines to help you with larger orders or leaner months. As a side hustle, your business and personal finances may intermix at the start so trying to start this relationship at your current bank is ideal. Also, this relationship isn’t just customer service in nature. Small business bankers especially make great referral partners as well for what you do locally.
A REALLY important note here. Notice I wrote banker, and not bank. In my 15 years of Entrepreneurial experience, I always connected the banking professional. And you should as well. Today, front line bank employees are even more restricted on what they can do for customers, and you’ll notice turnover of banking tellers is pretty common. You need someone who will advocate for you and try and pull strings. Someone who knows your story, and someone who can help guide you as transparently as possible through the banking system.
Another important note. Never have too many business products with a bank that wouldn’t allow you to pull out and jump to another bank if it means following YOUR banker. Follow the person. Never the brand.
2. Government Business Resources
Always work to make connections with any and every government resource centre you can. In Canada, this could include your local Small Business Enterprise Centre, a local Community Futures Development Corporation, your local rep with the Business Development Bank of Canada and Regional Innovation Centres.
These make for great connections more so for the resources than the consulting. Although often not Entrepreneurs themselves, the folks who work within these groups have access to a TON of resources issued by the government that are often free, and that nobody will ever really hear about that will have value for your business. From document templates to local networking to connection to local, regional, provincial and federal tiers for business, these centres are are a great way to stay informed around anything to do with the regulations, structure or operations of your business.
3. Referral Partners and Collaborators
This might seem like an obvious one, however you would be SURPRISED at the number of people I meet in this position doing things alone. With their full time work, and family obligations it can be difficult to meet people with common core values that you can work with. And if time is not on your side allowing you to attend live networking events or conferences, consider online groups. There are a number of social media groups where people exist just like you who think just like you and would love to be connected and referring or working in partnership with someone just like you.
Referral partnerships work best when the other person exists within your value chain. In other words, people seek you or your referral partner first. Consider a wedding venue, and a wedding photographer. People seek both of you at the same time as their service may be complementary to yours. Think dry cleaning and laundering services. Or either one of you is sought afterwards. Think real estate, and mortgage pre-approvals. Knowing your client’s journey is important here. And keep in mind this is most likely a transactional relationship. So to avoid any issues in the future, track every single referral whether they close or not.
Collaborators are people who you work with rather than simply refer. Collaborators make for great “partners” because it’s like having two people in the business without the commitment. You reach a larger network and you can build out a stronger value ladder. Having collaboration relationships does involve more communication than referral partners. You also want a regular interaction with your collaborators regardless of business to be completed. And know collaborators aren’t permanent. Its OK if your business model evolve and you pivot in a different direction.
4. Tribe and Accountability Partners
VERY different that number 3, tribe and accountability partners are people who you have a more intimate connection with. These are the people you can talk to when things aren’t working and you’re frustrated in your business. Sometimes even in your life. These may be people who connect with because your life partner doesn’t understand what you do and you feel isolated and lonely.
This isn’t about connecting to people for free business advice. This is about having deep meaningful relationships with people who understand you. And who are motivated to support you. These are also people YOU deeply care about and who you are motivated to support. This relationship is a two way street and requires the commitment to continually GIVE AND RECEIVE support.
Often, you hear the term “Mastermind” in the business world, and this is a GREAT place to find tribe and accountability partners for sure. Often for a fee. Also note that more than number 3, these relationships do MUCH better when there’s a core value match in business and in life. Think about identifying your ideal client. Identifying your tribe members and accountability partners should have as much thought put into it as well. It’s not about who’s available. It’s about who you fit with.
5. Legal Professional
Even in a side hustle, you should be FULLY aware of what your legal liabilities are. In fact, as a side hustle with no registered business and likely no legal contracts for clients or contractors AND as someone just learning how to do business in general, I would argue you are the MOST vulnerable for legal implications.
Being a “small hobby business” in your home doesn’t negate the need to protect your personal and family assets. Always understand what the legal standards are for your industry, for your business locally, provincially/state-wide and federally are AND ALWAYS have legal agreements for anyone you are exchanging money for goods or services with. This may even include a deep look into what insurance you should have in your side hustle.
There are a number of resources online such as lawdepot.ca which provides contract templates, and some Small Business Enterprise Centres may have templates of legal contracts or referrals and resources they can provide you for free. I myself have a legal service I use where I may a monthly fee under $50 and get access to legal advice on any business topic I need within a day!
However, if you consider number 3, or even number 4 above you might be able to find someone in your network in the legal field you can establish a trusted business relationship with as well.
Side hustles are never easy. And if they are, I would argue that you’re missing a step. Overall, regardless of the type of business you are starting, these 5 connections will make the entrance (and maintenance) into Entrepreneurship a much smoother step, and set you up for success in the long run.