It takes a village to build a business

By Catherine Porth

Winning all-woman team for What's the Big Idea? Pitch Competition | Winner: The Lotus Program

(This article was originally published in Knox.Biz Journal on July 21st, 2022

We’ve all heard the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” and other iterations of the phrase. But have you ever heard the phrase “It takes a village to build a business”?

Within the business world you often hear terms like network, mentors, and advisors — but in all the years I’ve spent surrounding myself with entrepreneurs, studying entrepreneurship, and working across a spectrum of businesses, I never really heard the term “village” used. That is, not until recently.

I teach the CO.STARTERS program at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center to help new businesses get off the ground. One of the first modules we cover is about understanding your strengths as a business owner and identifying who you need on your team. But having the right team in place means much more than the people you hire or a business partner. It includes everyone you surround yourself with to help you along the rollercoaster journey that is entrepreneurship.

Having the right team in place means much more than the people you hire or a business partner.

I’ve compiled a list of the top six people every entrepreneur needs in what I call their “Business Village.” Some of these people you may not speak with every day, but they’re important to know and keep on hand in case something goes sideways. Others are foundational support with whom you’ll likely keep in contact frequently.

So let’s take a look at who these people are:

Someone Who Is Good With Numbers

Whether you like it or not, having a sustainable business comes down to the numbers. You may be able to take a crash course in social media marketing, but understanding taxes, income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow can be a lot for most new business owners. That’s why seeking consultation from an accountant can make all the difference in the world to not only help you understand your own business finances, but also to give you peace of mind.

Someone Who Understands Risk

There are some businesses that have obvious liability risks like construction, transportation and restaurants, but almost every enterprise carries with it some form of risk. No matter what type of business you have, you likely will need some form of liability coverage. Speaking with a licensed commercial insurance agent can not only help you understand the types of risk you’re open to but can also ease your mind and stress level.

Someone Who Can Hold You Accountable

If you’re venturing out on your own, it can be difficult in the beginning to stay motivated and to push yourself. Some people will invest in a business coach for this reason, but when money is tight and you’re bootstrapping to get your business off the ground, having a friend who believes in you and will check in with your progress can have a huge impact on realizing your entrepreneurial dreams.

Someone Who Has Been There Before

Having a mentor or advisor in your business village who has walked a similar path can help you not only avoid costly mistakes but also navigate the complicated process of running a business. It’s common to get so wrapped up in day-to-day business activities that you forget to look at the big picture. Finding a mentor/advisor who can provide sound advice from experience will ensure you build a business that’s not only successful, but sustainable.

Having someone who will stick by you through all the ups and downs is not a nice to have; in my opinion, it’s a need to have.

Someone Who Sticks By You

When looking for someone to round out your business village, consider this person your entrepreneurial best friend. Owning a business can be lonely at times and it’s an experience that not everyone will understand or support. There will be days when you will want someone to help you celebrate your big wins and there will be others when you will need someone to talk you out of quitting altogether. Having someone who will stick by you through all the ups and downs is not a nice to have; in my opinion, it’s a need to have.

If you’re looking at this list and don’t know where to start to build your village — that’s where the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center can help! Check out for ways to connect with the entrepreneur community right here in Knoxville.

About the author »
Catherine Porth

Catherine Porth is the director of Insights & Development at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, the founder & chief advocate of Let Her Speak, and the co-chair of the Women in Entrepreneurship – Knoxville group. Her mission is to improve and grow opportunities for women across the community, one inspiring story at a time. If you are interested in learning more about or getting involved in Knoxville’s community of women entrepreneurs and leaders, contact her at

LinkedIn: /catherine-porth 

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