Founder and CEO of The Finance Bar, Marsha Barnes.

Donald Wilson

Here’s how to avoid sabotaging your success during those first critical years in business.

Sheiresa Ngo
Jul, 20, 2016

If you’re a new boss, you’re no doubt excited to jump in and start making some waves. But you need to slow down before you get in way over your head. You can avoid some common new boss mistakes by taking the time to properly prepare your business so that it can stand the test of time. Essence.com reached out to Marsha H. Barnes, founder of The Finance Bar, to get her advice on how to steer clear of the most common missteps new bosses make. Here’s how to avoid sabotaging your success during those first critical years in business.

Name: Marsha Barnes
Age: 40
Title: Founder and CEO, The Finance Bar
Location: Charlotte, NC
Twitter: @thefinancebar
Website: thefinancebar.com

My Journey
The Finance Bar is a personal finance suite and mobile hub bridging the gap between communities and financial awareness one mile at a time. We deliver financial education to organizations, corporations and educational institutions. Prior to launching The Finance Bar, I operated and led a local non-profit (Financial Empowerment) which I was also the founder of. The work that I did with FE allowed me to work solo with individuals in the community on their financial standing by providing resources and methods for them to move from financially existing to financially thriving. Essentially, The Finance Bar became an extension of what already existed, just on a larger scale. The mobile component of The Finance Bar allows us to meet clients where they are literally on their financial journey. It pains me to understand and value how hard many people work to care for themselves or their families and rarely have the opportunity to fully enjoy their lives because of financial strain. Our platform is used to solve issues that are unique and specific to individual challenges as opposed to educating our clients on what we think they need financially.

How I Overcame Challenges as a New Boss
When I first started The Finance Bar, I was literally a one-woman shop--the driver of our mobile hub, the communications specialist, the content creator, the janitor, the accountant, and the list goes on. Somehow I was under the impression that I could master all of those tasks and keep my sanity at the same time. Looking back, I wonder how I did it. The answer is simple: I did what I had to do to make it work. Eventually, I had to buckle down and find talent that I trusted and who believed in my vision. Small business owners often feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness when it’s actually a superb leadership trait. You can’t always work in the business while making strides to grow your business at the same time. It’s extremely important to hire great staff or freelancers as soon as possible. 

The Biggest Mistakes New Business Owners Make 
Not having clear goals: I view operating a business similar to operating your life. Are you clear about what you want for your life? The vision that you have for your business should use the same strategy. In the beginning stages of operating a business you may feel your business is your life. In some cases, small business owners are motivated by the launch of a website or even a product, when essentially those moments only get you to the starting line, not over it. Having a clear purpose, strategic plan, and written goals are extremely important. These items keep you on track and focused on what’s ahead of you, which reduces distraction, wasted time, and a loss of money.

Failure to prioritize: Additionally, it’s important to remember that it’s not necessary to have all of the bells and whistles when you are in the beginning stages. There are things that you need to have in business and others that are nice to have. Focus on what’s priority first. Avoid some of these missteps by planning before you even launch your business. Ask yourself the following questions. What do I visualize for my business? How many of X do I need to sell to keep my business afloat? How many of X do I need to sell to profit in my business? What steps do I need to take to build relationships and to earn the respect and trust of potential clients or investors?

The Best Boss Advice I Ever Received
There are no shortcuts to growing a successful business. Do the work and remember that no task is beneath you. I carry this advice with me in my planner, it reminds me that nothing is given and everything is earned. Even when you think you’ve been given a shot that can thrust you forward, remember that it was your previous work that got you there.

Bonus Tip
Remain flexible in business and be prepared to pivot when necessary. When I launched The Finance Bar, I had a white board filled with the exact flow that I visualized. Today those notes are significantly different. It’s OK to grow and shift based on the market and the needs of customers. Always stay open to opportunities and better ways to do business.

 

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