Entrepreneurs face many challenges when they first open their business. Frequently, business owners don't even know how to get started with registering their business on a local, county, state, or federal level. During my time as a business mentor with SCORE
, I've been surprised by the number of aspiring entrepreneurs who come in asking for legal and accounting advice to help them get through their initial start-up period. While SCORE counselors are not allowed to give out specific advice in regards to those fields, we do help identify the questions they should ask an attorney or accountant.
Because lawyers and accountants are licensed and regulated everywhere, most people don't assume that they can manage legal or tricky financial transactions without professional help. Eventually, every business owner needs to learn how to balance their finances and manage their daily sales, but most will not try to file a tax return. It takes years of study to become a lawyer or an accountant, so it's a good idea to leave that work to the professionals.
Other than legal and accounting issues, new entrepreneurs also have to figure out how to source their wholesale merchandise, write a business plan, startup financing, hiring employees, manage their marketing, choose between a home-based business or a rented location, and a whole lot more. Most new entrepreneurs are quickly overwhelmed by the responsibilities they must take on for their business to come alive.
Anyone can become an entrepreneur. All you need is a personal passion that has sparked the idea to sell a product or service, or perhaps the belief that you can improve upon someone else's product or service. The passion will drive you to get started, but success might not arrive until you learn how to fit many of the above topics together to build your dream.
At SCORE, we include a lot of topics under the heading marketing. Some of the popular topics include finding your customers, branding
, SEO, social media, pricing strategies, websites, and general advertising. You can make a career out of each of those individual topics marketing topics, and many universities offer degrees for these as well. Marketing is probably the broadest topic that I cover as a private business coach and with my volunteer work with SCORE. What I find most interesting is that most entrepreneurs believe that their passion for their product is all the expertise they need in order to manage all their marketing.
I've met many different business owners that had a lot of talent and were masters of their product or service, but their ad attempts had failed and they didn't know how to find customers. While they were willing to pay for professional legal and financial advice, they were unwilling to recognize that marketing professionals were just as important for the success of their business.
I come across advertising disasters every week in my local newspaper and in the Valpak coupons that are frequently delivered. It's easy to spot an ad that was thrown together by someone without marketing training and point out the fatal flaws. I've seen ads without phone numbers, addresses, and many without websites. I've seen other ads where the product photo in the ad wasn't mentioned once in the ad copy. Each of these mistakes can turn a reasonable ad into a complete waste of the time and money it took to create the ad, and trigger a loss of needed sales.
I do respect all entrepreneurs who have to serve as their own chief cook and bottle-washer during the startup of their business, but eventually the best chance of growing happens when that new entrepreneur realizes that they can't do it all, and one of the first duties they should relinquish is all those marketing tasks.
The bottom line Nugget for today is simply that business owners often view marketing as just another task that they can manage in their spare time when it should be viewed as a full time job for an employee or a hired marketing professional.