When you meet the CEO of a small business, you're likely shaking the hand of the CFO, COO and CMO — and the intern who does all the coffee runs — all at once. That's the nature of entrepreneurship. The best businesses are defined by their ability to do the most with the least amount of resources possible. And that often means one person doing the work of many.
However, success can be hard to come by for solo acts.
Studies show that 15% of small businesses close their doors after one year, and the failure rate balloons to 50% over a five-year time horizon. Of course, businesses fail for a variety of reasons, but many fold due to a lack of specialized knowledge, like finance.
So the question becomes: How can small business owners find help that they can afford?
Robert King, director of small business for Intuit Canada, recognizes that paid help is unrealistic for several young businesses, but he also posits that entrepreneurs have three, solid options for assistance that won't break the bank.
1. Surround yourself with people in the same situation
One of the easiest ways to pick up free advice is to hang around other entrepreneurs. This tactic doesn't reduce any legwork for a "one man operation," but does allow business owners to share their specific skill sets with peers who face similar challenges. King suggests joining an incubator to gain exposure to a wide variety of business minds.
"It's pretty powerful to be able to lean over and talk to another entrepreneur going, 'How do you set up social media? How do you set up a website?' It's that extra ecosystem support to help you," he says. "But also, in a fun, new way, too, it's like therapy. You get to sit and talk about and share the learnings and the pitfalls."
2. Assemble a board of directors you can trust
A board of directors might seem silly for a small startup to have, but considering the breadth of knowledge a board can bring to a business, King feels it's never too early to assemble a group of invested mentors.
"When you have that idea and you're at the point where you're formulating the launch, you build your board," he says. "And you know what? You may be four people sitting in your mom's basement. But it's your board."
"And it's either people that you respect and are inspired by, who went out and started businesses and you're asking them, 'Help me with my business case. Help me understand where I'm gonna go.' It could be business partners that you want to come join you and maybe help invest small amounts of money or energy or their intellect."
3. Let software do heavy lifting for you
Small business owners may not be able to afford a CFO, but they might not need one either. With the help of user-friendly technology, entrepreneurs can unlock the power of a trained financial mind — and do so with ease.
"We know that more entrepreneurs in Canada are now running their businesses from mobile devices than in the U.S., and they need to be able to work effectively while in field,” King says. “Being able to create invoices, quotes and process payments is just a requirement today — in fact, more than half of Canadian entrepreneurs are using apps to facilitate working on the go. Ultimately, our customers are looking for time-saving solutions that will make them more successful long term.”
He continues, "QuickBooks is our accounting solution, and paired with features like payments and payroll along with third party apps, it’s really easy to leverage the software’s capabilities to amplify your operations. At the end of the day, you need to meet your business goals, so you have to find an ecosystem that will help you do that.”
Here's how to get the financial help you need
When it comes down to dollars and cents, small business owners can greatly benefit from sophisticated financial management that just makes things easy — and if you’re looking for a way to get started, you can sign up here for a helpful free tool. Remember, there’s no reason to go it alone. With the right resources and support system, you can trust that your business will be set up for success.