Imagine being in an impound lot, standing behind the vehicle in which your father died much as John Gray and his brother when they came to town for their father’s funeral. Their father had been car jacked, stuffed in the trunk of his BMW, and left to die in the hot East Texas sun.
It was then that John climbed into the trunk of the car and asked his brother to close the lid. He said that he wanted to experience what his father had experienced during his last moments on earth. Once in the trunk, John saw where his father had broken one of the taillights to reach the trunk release and escape. Like John’s father probably did, John stuck his arm through the opening, and searched for the button that would open the trunk. His brother, standing outside began to coach John. “Up John,” he would say. “Now back toward your wrist. Come back a little more. Now up some more.” John’s finger landed on the button. He pushed it, and the trunk opened.
All too often, we bury ourselves in the business of doing business, not always seeing the solution to daily challenges. This story demonstrates the importance of an outside perspective.
Being a small business owner or entrepreneur, we don’t have the luxury of multiple employees to assist with growing the business. We don’t have the insights needed to improvise, adapt, and overcome unexpected obstacles. The recent Covid-19 pandemic and recession are current examples.
There is good news. The people from whom you can receive outside perspectives that will assist you in overcoming your challenges are all around them. Your job is to identify the one with whom you want to work and develop mutually beneficial know, like, and trust relationships with those people. Who are they? Thank you for asking. Here are the five imperative relationships you must have to compete.
These are the five business professionals I encourage my clients and friends with whom to develop mutually beneficial know, like, and trust relationships for the best insights for their success.
Coach: Everyone in business deserves and should have a coach and/or mentor to stay on track. The most successful people in the world have coaches and advisors to help them determine direction, time requirements, mindset, and relationships. Interview coaches. Find the ones who have the experience, insights, and business savvy to help you see what you need to see to move forward and who will encourage you while holding you accountable. Yes, every small business owner needs a coach.
Business Attorney:: Too many small businesses begin and attempt to live without outside perspective of an attorney, or they engage attorneys without a specialty in small business. Big mistake! While business attorneys tend to charge more per hour than general counsels, you must weigh the costs associated with having a "go to" adviser versus the costs associated with going out of business. Find the "go to" adviser for your business here...
CPA: Too many small business owners and entrepreneurs believe that CPAs exist to answer tax questions. They do far more than completing tax returns. Depending on the capacity in which a CPA works, they can support your small business by…
Banker: When meeting potential coaching clients, I will ask, “Do you have a banker?” The answer? “Yes, I bank at XYZ Bank.” Note that I didn't ask what bank they use. There is a vast difference in having a bank and having a banker. You need to have a relationship with someone of influence within your bank who can go to bat for you and help walk you through today’ banking maze. Just think about the criteria required of small business owners to receive funding from the CARE Act during the COVID-19 crisis. Those with champions in the bank working for them saw their applications move through the process much quicker than those who had a bank.
Business Risk Management Specialist: Small business owners are good about getting liability insurance. However, it is critical to work with a commercial insurance expert who understands the small business world as much as he understands insurance. Collaborating cohesively with your attorney, your risk management adviser can provide the specialized coverages you need. Remember, everyone who sells commercial liability insurance is not a risk management specialist.
Develop your advisory team with a sense of urgency. Start now by establishing mutually beneficial know, like, and trust relationships in your community. Engage in associated professional associations and in non-profit volunteering, participating in chamber activities, and peer relationships. If you aren’t comfortable with the person, don’t engage with them. Listen carefully when in conversations with them or your peers. Remember too, every conversation is an education and the one who listens the most, learns the most. Enjoy building your team!
Brian Kennedy is an encourager who shepherds small business owners and entrepreneurs along the path of business success to preeminence by embracing time tested principles and executing the associated fundamentals daily.