small business networking

By Rieva Lesonsky

Any small business owner who works from home and has school-age children knows the joys–and miseries–summer brings. Joy, because it’s summer and your kids are home. Misery, because you may feel like you spend every minute shooing them away so you can finish that project, call that client or reconcile your accounting.

The juggling act that work-at-home parents face all year long is especially intense this time of year. Just getting to a midday client meeting requires a complex dance that on any given day could involve babysitters, family members, playdates, drop-offs and pick-ups with the realization that the clock is always ticking.

It takes a village to make a home-based business work when you have kids. And really, the same is true of any successful small business owner. Whether you’re a parent or not, married or single, a one-person business or the head of a thriving company with 50 employees, smart small business owners rely on a network for help.

Who’s in your village? Here are some of the “villagers” every small business owner should have on their team.

  • A lawyer. You don’t need to spend tons or keep an attorney on retainer. Use your connections to tap into attorneys with experience in small business who are willing to work with you at reasonable rates. Save money by using a template to create contracts and other legal documents, but have an attorney review them or you’re being penny-wise and pound-foolish.
  • An accountant. A good accountant is worth his or her weight in gold—sometimes literally. Use your accountant’s know-how and expertise to tap into more than just bookkeeping skills. Your accountant can advise you on everything from what employee benefits make financial sense to whether your plan to expand is perfectly timed or premature.
  • A board of advisers. Sounds fancy, right? In reality, you don’t need an official “board of advisers”—an informal group of fellow business owners that you can share your frustrations with, bounce ideas off of and brainstorm with is a great support for any entrepreneur (especially those who run solo businesses or don’t have key employees to strategize with).
  • A personal support system. Running a small business is exhilarating, but can sometimes be exhausting. To keep going, you’ll need encouragement and understanding from those closest to you—your parents, spouse, significant other, friends and/or kids. Make sure your family buys into your dream and can stand behind you all the way.