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12.1 Building and Connecting to Networks
Entrepreneurial networking is interacting with other people who have a common interest that eventually leads to the exchange of goods and services for payment. You must be comfortable approaching, talking to, and working with other individuals in order to build the circle of associates, colleagues, and professionals that you will need to start and operate your business. Likewise, you must be willing to offer your expert knowledge and professional skills to others. A good networker supports others in the community through sharing information and passing along personal introductions to expand everyone’s networks.
People do business with those they know and trust. Connecting with people in face-to-face meetings through group membership is valuable but so is the power of social media avenues dedicated to professional connections, exchange of information, and support, such as LinkedIn. Networking is not easy or free. Some of the costs other than money include time, fear, and dedication. Because entrepreneurs are willing to invest the money, spend the time, take the risks, and stay with it, economic success for communities and individuals is possible.
12.2 Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team
The idea that entrepreneurs are isolated loners and solo performers in the market, doing everything themselves, having absolute self-reliance, is a myth. Successful entrepreneurs quickly seek outside advice, rely on professionals in supporting areas, and are very good at establishing and maintaining personal relationships with key individuals. Perhaps their essential skill is their ability to identify, connect, and trust those individuals who can help them succeed in their personal entrepreneurial journey.
Whatever the entrepreneur can do best is what he or she should focus on doing. Other required tasks can be assigned to employees, service providers, or consultants. However, it is very important that the functions having a direct effect on customers and sales are performed proficiently, because that is what generates revenue for the company. Entrepreneurs must assess their own skillset and willingness to execute tasks, then identify employees and outside professionals to fill in any gaps.
12.3 Designing a Startup Operational Plan
Success is best defined as achieving what you want. Without some kind of plan, you can never be successful. Whether they are entrepreneurial owners or management employees, business managers need to have a written plan so that everyone can be certain of what tasks are needed, who is assigned those tasks, and when those tasks are scheduled. Recording and tracking financials is imperative in any business. Knowing where money is coming from, to whom it was sent, how much, and why are crucial to being a responsible business professional.
Without a business plan that encompasses all major aspects of your business, you may find yourself without a business. If that happens, you may very well ask, “How did I end up here?” Unfortunately, the answer is likely to be, “I don’t know.” On the other hand, a successful business professional can look back and say, “I did this, and this is how I did it.”