In 2005, I fled the economic chaos of Venezuela for Miami. I was 24, and ready to launch a disruptive business venture in the country where I was born. There was one problem: Though I possessed the passion to succeed, I had no network, no knowledge and didn’t understand the intricacies of starting a company. 

Many of my first mistakes were cultural. In my Latin heritage, lunch is the day’s main meal. So, I launched a lunch delivery service — only to discover that most Americans won’t spend more than $10 on lunch, because the big meal in the U.S. is dinner. 

I also failed to appreciate the idiosyncrasies of local and state licensing: I spent 18 months securing the permits required to sell my first meal. 

Tapping relevant organizations and networks enhanced my business tremendously.

Find a support network

How could I have avoided these missteps? By focusing on my support network and knowledge before launching. 

We’re told that all an entrepreneur must do to succeed is to work hard. However, I learned that it’s more about leveraging resources and developing a great network and team. Just because you start a business doesn’t mean you’re the best person for every task involved in running it. 

Thankfully, there are many free and low-cost resources. Prospera helped me establish a business plan. The Small Business Administration’s SCORE mentoring program guided me through startup. Local chamber programs and grants can bring clarity to your ideas.

Business accelerators can help

The game-changer for me was joining a business accelerator group. I learned that though growth was my goal, I was getting in the way of the company scaling up. I doubled my business in eight months by applying lessons and skills learned in EO’s accelerator program, which provided the accountability and community to help me work on the business instead of in it. I have since joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization, through which I’ve defined my role and connected with a community of like-minded people who support learning and growth.

Though I suffered initial mishaps, tapping relevant organizations and networks enhanced my business tremendously. Don’t hesitate to leverage such beneficial resources when you’re starting out.