Sierra Nevada Powerful Woman: Six things to know before starting a business
Special to the NNBV
RENO, Nev. — For more than 26 years, Cheri S. Hill and her company CEO of Sage International, Inc. has helped people define and develop their dream of starting a business. While doing so, she found a title that describes what she does best: Wealth Protection Diva.
“About 14 years into the business, I started realizing what I’m really helping people do is to protect the hard-earned wealth they’re trying to create,” Hill said.
Through that lens, Sage International has provided financial education, business development and wealth protection strategies to thousands of business owners, investors, professionals and entrepreneurs.
By working with Sage International, these individuals learn how to properly structure their business and personal assets to grow, protect and leverage their hard-earned wealth safely. Also, Hill and her team support each client with ongoing education, a network of resources and back-end support services.
“I truly believe that if I’m going to help you start a business, then I have to help you stay in business,” Hill said.
READ MORE IN SIERRA NEVADA POWERFUL WOMAN: This story is adapted from the 2019 edition of Sierra Nevada Powerful Woman, a specialty magazine produced by the Northern Nevada Business View. The newest magazine, the second annual, was inserted in the May 27 monthly edition of the NNBV. Or, you can go here to read the digital version.
To help those entrepreneurial individuals take their first step, Hill offered the following advice and tips. Go to sageintl.com to learn more.
1. FIND A TEAM
One of the first steps Hill recommends that any aspiring business owner take is to look for mentors and a support network.
“Women have a harder time asking for help,” Hill said. “Women have a harder time finding mentors, especially local mentors.”
It’s important to find the right kind of mentors, she added.
“People surround themselves with family and friends or other folks that they take a lot of advice from, but haven’t found someone who’s walked the walk,” Hill said. “It doesn’t do any good to go get a mentor who hasn’t owned a business for several years.”
2. ESTABLISH THE RIGHT STRUCTURE
One of Sage International’s specialties is helping business owners navigate what Hill calls the three flaming arrows of challenge: income taxes, liability exposure, and probate and estate taxes.
To do this, they help businesses get set up correctly or cleanup existing entities, by forming corporations, limited liability companies or limited partnerships.
“If you don’t understand the value of the tools, limited liability companies, corporations and others, then you give more money to the government, or you’re exposed to lawsuits,” she said.
3. CREATE AN ASSET
When a person starts a business, she has to look at it as an asset, Hill said. The potential to sell this asset in the future is far greater when it has structure, even if the business is a single person entity.
“If the goal is to create an asset that people would be interested in buying then you have to be effectively reducing your taxes, you have to be making sure you don’t have hidden liability out there,” Hill said.
4. ‘STAY IN YOUR LANE’
One of the key strategies to create a successful business is to “stay in your lane,” Hill said.
“Whatever you decide that you want to do, master it,” she said. “Once you’ve mastered it then you can start to look at how to expand or diversify.”
5. BUILD IN WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Often, women business owners and entrepreneurs will ask Hill about how to achieve work-life balance.
“I tell them there’s no such thing,” Hill said. “You build your company around your lifestyle. You don’t try and figure lifestyle into your company.”
For example, Hill said, if a person loves to play golf every Friday, then as a business owner she should train her employees, clients, vendors, and other partners that she’s out on Fridays.
“It’s really about looking at what gives you joy and make sure that that’s still happening,” Hill said.
6. PLAN FOR A WHOLE LIFE
While business owners or entrepreneurs may think they need to separate their personal and work calendars, Hill said that’s a bad idea.
“It’s all one life,” she said.
Instead, she said, they should put all of their professional and personal commitments on one calendar to see the full scope of the activities.
“If you look at everything you’re already committed to, then you know what you can say yes to, and what you can’t say yes to,” she said.
At the crux of all her advice is Hill’s belief that the whole point of owning a business is happiness.
“It’s not all days, but certainly that’s got to be a whole big reason that you want to guide your own destiny,” she said.
Annie Flanzraich is a freelance writer and owner of Flanz Writes, a Reno-based business that offers writing, editing, strategy, and other content services.
“The thing that I like most about entrepreneurship is I can work toward something that I’m passionate about and be at the forefront of the change that I want to see happen,” said Priyanka Senthil, a senior at Davidson Academy in Reno and co-founder of startup company AUesome.