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It’s natural to be excited – and a little nervous – about starting your eco-friendly business. Let’s face it – after years of answering to others, the appeal of answering solely to yourself is attracting you like a nail to a magnet. Not to mention that with this venture, you feel like you can finally do some good. Sometimes, however, that cloud of excitement can hover over some common entrepreneurial pitfalls, and they don’t emerge from the shadows until you find yourself putting out fires. Proactively identifying and then mitigating, or even avoiding, some of those mistakes is much easier than reacting to them later.
If you’re a first-time green entrepreneur, however, it’s not realistic nor fair to expect you to be able to predict all or even a lot of the probable snags. To help, Phoenix Voyage offers the following guide to take some of that guesswork out of your startup planning and execution so you can sidestep new business landmines.
Don’t make “frenemies”
Doing business with friends can seem like a dream come true. After all, you’re quick to meet up and grab a brew after work a few nights a week – now you can extend that camaraderie into your work life. You also may feel like you are doing each other a favor; as a business owner, you’re giving business or even a job to a friend who needs it. In return, you’re getting someone you know is highly qualified without having to go through a strenuous interview or vetting process, and you already know you’re compatible. Or so you think.
Social compatibility and business compatibility can be two different things. It can be tougher for a friend to take professional criticism, for example. They may feel as though you are being “tougher” on them because of your personal relationship, perhaps feeling more comfortable that the friendship provides an “insulation” of sorts. And being lax on vetting them, such as doing a credit or background check, is just the type of relaxed business process that can lead to one of those fires you may be putting out in six months.
It’s not that it never works to do business with friends – it’s simply something that should be approached with more care and caution, rather than less. Otherwise, you may start your business with a friend and end up with a “frenemy.”
Figures and filings
Get ready to have some new “best friends” in business: your accounting system and your attorney. You are going to become obsessed with numbers, from your capital startup costs to your inventory to payroll to taxes – yet, the only way you can focus on all of the startup complexities is to have a system in place that makes these financial elements easy to process and track. While it would be nice to have a full-time accountant on staff, that may not be realistic.
Even if you have a competent freelance bookkeeper, having a robust accounting platform in-house adds professionalism as well as efficiency and allows you to have real-time insights into your business finances. Whether you start out with employees or independent contractors, you still need a system for managing your payroll and that automates as many calculations and processes – like direct deposits and tax filings – as possible. You will also do yourself and your employees a favor if your system also manages your employee benefits.
Now consider your need for ready access to a good lawyer, or even more than one – it’s unlikely your employment attorney is also an intellectual property expert. A few additional reasons to have your attorneys on speed dial include:
Enhance Your Knowledge Base
As a newbie entrepreneur, there’s going to be a lot of trial by fire, and even if you adhere to these suggestions, you’ll still encounter some ups and downs. It’s only natural. In addition to having certain people in your corner, it’s also beneficial to boost your business know-how, and this starts with taking business courses. An MBA is a great option for taking a deep dive into all things business, and you’ll learn everything about operations, leadership, accounting, marketing and management. Look for a program that offers online opportunities to help you balance your obligations.
Maintain patience and precision
If you can methodically check off your startup requirements with patience, you won’t find yourself in the shadows with overlooked pitfalls for companions. A well-prepared business plan is a perfect tool to help you with this.
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