Personal Finance


Jeremy Tooker, owner of Four Barrel Café in San Francisco.

Photo: Eric Wolfinger

In starting a small business, many entrepreneurs feel the need to do it all.

They perform or monitor all aspects of their business, including product development, operations, sales, marketing and customer service. Early on, they may have even acted as their own attorney in setting up their business structure. They often do their own bookkeeping and perhaps even file their own tax returns.

This willingness to do it all yourself can be essential to launching a business. It allows the entrepreneur to learn the ins and outs of the business and can be a huge cost savings as the business gets established.

However, the do-it-yourself mindset can quickly become a significant barrier to success, as many entrepreneurs have difficulty delegating and outsourcing once their business grows.

Becoming a successful entrepreneur often requires a dramatic shift in mindset.

Relying on experts for professional advice can seem foreign for many aspiring entrepreneurs. People in their family and friend network may not utilize professional help, either. Therefore, calling on the help of a CPA, financial advisor, business coach or attorney may seem unnecessary or a waste of money.

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This kind of thinking is a big mistake. Often, you can’t afford not to have the help and guidance they can provide. You don’t need to hire them on as staff. You could just consult with these professionals when you need them.

For example, you could pay a few hundred dollars for just an hour or two of a CPA’s or attorney’s time as you are starting your business, with periodic consultations as issues arise. These types of as-needed consultations could end up saving you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Given that many of these professionals work with a variety of entrepreneurs and have specialized knowledge and experience, they might spot something that could hinder your growth or sabotage your success. They might be able to give you advice that saves you months or years of trial and error.

Relying on experts is normal and expected in successful business and high-net-worth circles. For those who are new to the game or grew-up in less well off socioeconomic groups, these types of experts can seem alien.

Many wealthier individuals are steeped in a culture that utilizes experts as a matter of course. They may have close friends or family members who are attorneys or financial advisors. They have networks of people who can quickly and easily refer them to the right person who has been endorsed by someone they trust.

In contrast, many people coming from less wealthy socioeconomic groups may have had to rely on just themselves or their relatives to get things done. When their car breaks down, they fix it themselves. When they need help with taxes, they go to an aunt who is good with taxes. Many have never met an attorney or a CPA, and can be distrustful of these types of experts.

However, entrepreneurial endeavors often require striking new ground, and issues can quickly rise above the expertise and experience in one’s informal network. When challenges emerge, they can go beyond the collective knowledge and experience of our support network, and if we don’t bring in expert help, that’s when mistakes get made.

Entrepreneurial success often requires a person to step out of their comfort zone, fight the urge to do it all themselves and seek expert advice.

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

By Dr. Brad Klontz, certified financial planner, financial psychologist and an associate professor of practice in financial psychology and behavioral finance at Creighton University Heider College of Business.



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