As a new business owner you must wear many hats.
You will need knowledge of accounting, marketing, advertising, management, administration, inventory, sales, etc., in addition to knowledge pertaining to your industry. Since you may be very proficient in some of these areas, but not in others, reading and learning about these other areas is imperative. Of course, the question is, when do I find the time. This is where networking comes in. Your network of contacts is your support group for the areas in which you need help. Determine what areas you need help in and locate a networking group, support group or make a list of the contacts you need and make them yourself. There are also Home Business Clubs in many areas. The SBA is another source, but be careful, we’ve heard too many complaints about the mentors in the SBA program. However, you might find them adequate for your needs. Look at the local groups and ask before you join if the areas you need help in are represented. You can then call these individuals before a sales presentation, run the client presentation by them, and see what they think. They should be able to help you over the rough spots. Be sure to reciprocate when one of these individuals calls you about your area of expertise. Networking is not a one-way street.
Many times by having contacts in companies you want to do business with, you can find out how they want proposals, bids or contracts done beforehand, and gear your paperwork towards this end.
The library is a good source, so are the publications you subscribe to. Many times the back of publications list networking and support groups. Many of the national organizations have local chapters, so the fees are fairly low, and you are becoming part of a nationwide organization, which, if they are flexible, gives you a variety of individuals to contact. Remember our discussion about the Web. Many of these individuals are using it, so rather than a phone call you can e-mail one another.
Copyright DeFiore Enterprises 2000