Whitman on mistakes: Common errors startups should sidestep to survive

Alan Whitman, CPA, Office Managing Partner, Baker Tilly, was featured in Crain’s Detroit Business recently when he was part of a panel giving advice to business startups on how to avoid common pitfalls.

His advice? Whitman says he watched one of his clients grow too quickly. But the entrepreneur didn’t want to ask for help or take advice, he said.

When the company finally hit $3 million in sales, the owner came to Whitman for help. He realized quality was sliding and he could lose his largest customer.

“A lot of entrepreneurs are too tied up in the product they have developed or solution they have developed and don’t spend time paying attention on how to go to market, how to turn that product into a sustainable business. They are worried too much about the immediate versus focusing on the important. They also aren’t willing to accept help. It’s a control-alt-delete in your brain. Reboot your brain to recognize to be willing to accept help.”– Alan Whitman, CPA, Office Managing Partner, Baker Tilly

Whitman helped the client restructure their financials, creating a three-month projected financial plan so he could understand what was happening in the near term. He also created a “within/without” plan to model what would happen if the company suddenly lost its largest customer.

He also says the informal network is just as critical as the full advisers. Having other business owners to chat with and use as a sounding board is imperative. Look for a mentor in your field or another owner you admire and approach them about guiding you and your growth. If you present yourself as sincere and committed to growing your business and creating jobs in the community, they will take you seriously.

Read the Crain’s Detroit Business article >

Alan D. Whitman
Chief Executive Officer
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