It takes a village to launch and grow a business. The team you assemble in the early stages could make or break that first unpredictable year.

We’re not just talking about the staff you hire full-time or part-time. We’re also talking about the other professional relationships you build into your network. The right type of partners and mentors can help you anticipate small issues before they become big problems down the road.

Here is a list of 4 people that you need to have on speed dial and be on a first name basis with during your first year.

  1. An Experienced Bookkeeper

You may think you can save money by doing your own books in the first few years. And that’s often the first financial mistake small business owners make.

Ask yourself how much your time is worth as the business owner, and put an actual dollar value on it. Now, let’s say you’re spending 2-3 hours a week doing your own books. That’s about 8-12 hours a month.

Now consider that a bookkeeper’s hourly rate is likely lower than your hourly worth to your business, and they can do the books in a fraction of the time… is it still “more affordable” to do it yourself?

They say there’s only one resource that you can’t afford to replace – your time.


  1. A Commercial Lease Expert

Whether you’re opening your first storefront or your fourth, each would-be space offers its own challenges and advantages.

Before you sign a lease, you will want someone with experience in this area to go over everything and flag any possible issues for you.

A professional lease reviewer does not necessarily have to be a real estate lawyer. There are more affordable options and people who specialize in commercial lease analysis for small business owners. They can help you identify areas in the lease where you can push back a little bit, and areas where you may get some concessions.

  1. A Financial Advisor

Your bookkeeper can help you monitor your cash flow and identify areas where you can find tax breaks, or areas where you may be wasting money.

Your financial advisor can help you with bigger picture financial decisions. They are particularly helpful if you need to borrow funds, or lease large-scale equipment.

They can also advise you on how to wisely invest your money back into your business and potentially expand.

  1. A Mentor

Your business mentor may be the most valuable part of your team. They don’t necessarily have to even have any experience in your space. They simply need to be someone you look up to with an entrepreneurial background.

They can act as a sympathetic ear that you vent to. Or they can give you tangible advice on how to manage people or clients more effectively. In either case, their time often costs you no more than a lunch or a cup of coffee, but their value is immeasurable.

Of course, as you expand, you will need to know an entire fleet of lawyers, recruiters and other advisors. However, these 4 people can form the nucleus of your advisory board that helps you succeed and grow.