A family member recently started a new job and he was lamenting the fact that he is on a team of one. Even though he works for a very large corporation, he is working on an assignment by himself. And this assignment involves a topic with which he has little experience.
My immediate thought was that this is no different from the typical small business owner. Most of us likely started our business as a team of one, and most of us gave ourself an assignment with which we had little experience–operating a business. This certainly was the case in my situation.
When I started my business, I assumed that common sense and hard work would be sufficient to address the issues that would come up. While both are important, and certainly help, they simply are not sufficient. The result was a continual process of trial and error, which was often costly, stressful, and inefficient.
On occasion I would solicit input from family or friends regarding specific issues. While their advice was often very helpful, they didn’t understand enough about contracting to provide the kind of assistance I sometimes I needed. So I continued to plod along, making slow but gradual progress (with occasional pauses to pull out large tufts of hair).
The Internet certainly helped change this. With the advent of chatrooms and forums, I suddenly had access to hundreds of other people who had “been there, done that”. I was no longer dependent on trial and error.
Of course, the quality of the advice offered on the Internet varies considerably. As I identified those individuals or organizations that offered sound advice, I slowly began to include them on my “team”. In addition, I was better able to communicate my vision to my employees and subcontractors. This too improved the quality of me team.
Every small business should have a team, even if it is a one-man shop. Obviously a smaller business will have a smaller team, but getting quality advice and input is important no matter the size of a company. Even a one-man shop will have need for occasional advice concerning legal, accounting, marketing, or other issues. Having competent professionals available–professionals who have some understanding of contracting–can help avoid costly mistakes.
Your team can also consist of others in your industry or a similar industry. While a direct competitor will not be likely to share as much information, general discussions can be beneficial. If you are in a large market, there are likely many small businesses who are not direct competitors.