For green businesswomen who are co-founders or founders of their companies, you face a real real need to put together an initial team that can deal well with the complexities of the company's development, from sourcing product, securing partnerships, developing and monitoring supply-chain methods, business finance analysis, understanding marketing and sales, delivering on customer support, and ongoing strategic development of the business.
If you have a good understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, it becomes necessary to find other co-founders, partners, or consultants who bring other skills to the table.
If you're already a "numbers person," make sure the technology and operations are covered by someone with experience.
If you're already a "techie," find a marketing and business development guru.
If you're already a "sales superstar," find the logistical expert you need.
In terms of finding excellent support team members, make sure to hire the best you can afford. "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys" is one of my favorite quotes from James Goldsmith. Know that the success of your company will depend on a significant amount of equity, ownership, or consulting fee given to the other people you bring on board in return for their best work.
Just as you would never expect a plumber to take on electrician requirements in your house, or you wouldn't expect your coffee shop to sell Chinese food, you wouldn't expect one person to be able to take on the different roles needed to build your business.
The top three relationships you'll want to develop are an excellent working relationship with your banker, your attorney, and your tax professional. These three external professionals are key to the success of your business. With these experts on board, you are freed up to dream, envision, and build upon the green principles you wish to embody in your business.
A reliable banker can help with financing strategies, risk management, cash management, deposits, and international trade as you grow.
A strong attorney will help you structure the company to protect assets and reduce liability, and retain your intellectual property rights.
An experienced tax professional will help you file your tax obligations in a timely fashion.
Consider other professionals who can help you build your business to survive and thrive past that initial startup and growth phase. These may include your web team and social media outreach team, your sales managers and primary customer service point people, your coach or advisory board, and others to help with risk management, strategic planning, intellectual property, contracts, general operations, and more complex legal and financial issues.
With the right people helping you and your team, you'll be able to build a company that feeds you and your family, creates value for your customers, employs others, treads lightly on the earth, and embodies your green and sustainable values, hopefully for years to come.