When was the last time you saw a specialist? In the medical realm, we do this often. Yes, we have the general doc that gives us general care. A great general practitioner will rather quickly send you off to a specialist that has decided to dig deep in one area of specialty. It might be age, but this year has been a year of specialists. Wrist, dermatology, elbow and more. Somewhere there is a HIPAA compliance specialist cringing, I’m sure.
Need a specialist? Resumes, Linked-In profiles, painting, photographer, welders, YouTube, Facebook profiles, travel, and more. The list is exhausting and could fill this page. Yet in every one of these areas, there is a specialist that knows the nuance. Then dig further. There are not only welding specialists, but those certified to weld gas pipe, under water, TIG, MIG, etc. There are divers that snorkel, those that use tanks and those that use specialized breathing gasses for even greater depths. Oh, and yes add the combo; deep divers that weld underwater.
What about your business? It’s my experience that many business people at some point were “artists.” These are the people I described above. Along the line, they decide they can do this as a business. Nearly immediately the focus changes. The time they could take making amazing intricate miter cuts in 12-inch crown molding around a challenging room is now spent on supplier relations, website design, customer acquisition, bookkeeping, managing another artist that can’t quite do it like they could, and their own art suffers. They’ve had little to no practice or training in these other areas, yet they’re trying to pull them off to their own detriment. Fewer potential customers call because the art is gone. Suddenly, the artist turned entrepreneur is late on taxes and the end is staring them in the face.
Some follow different paths to be sure. Often, they get help. Well that’s simple enough, right? Finances tight? There are so many resources available to entrepreneurs that you’re already paying for! The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Roanoke is free! So are programs such as SCORE (Senior Corps of Retired Executives), RAMP (Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program), The Advancement Foundation (TAF), and various offices of Economic Development.
Need more? Join organizations such as your local Chamber, or organizations such as the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC). Finally, consider hiring a coach or your own specialist. “But that’s expensive!” So is failure.
Take the most challenging part of your business, say bookkeeping. Think how many hours each month you’re spending on watching YouTube in frustration over payroll, or depreciation, think how much that time (that you can’t bill) is costing you. Hire it.
Take another part and get a coach to help you until you understand it.
Drop the pride. I’ve been there, done that. “That is expensive” is a death knell to your business. Wait until you can afford the higher-level stuff like more social media engagement or hiring an ad agency.
We’re out here. Specialists that have been there, done that. Reach out. We’ve enough challenges in business. Don’t make it harder on yourself than it needs to be. If you think you’re going to fail because you don’t have the knowledge or resources, please re-read. The help IS out here!
Grant Holmes, Executive Director
Botetourt County Chamber of Commerce