Every small business owner needs a team to help them achieve success. It is the common belief of many business owners that they can do it all. This belief is most commonly held because they think that it is cheaper for them to do it all rather than employ a team of professionals to help.
This method of starting or running a business may be cheaper in the short-term but I guarantee it will cause some problems in the long run. Let me share a couple of issues that I have found while working with my clients:
- A business obtained a tax identification number as a LLC but never filed articles of incorporation with their county and state which means that they were not a corporation.
- A business owner with a large amount of liability choose a sole proprietor legal structure which left them open to excess taxes as well as unnecessary personal liability for the business.
- A business wanting to attain a business loan was unable to do so because they had not kept accurate financial records for the past three years.
There are so many more examples that I can cite, however I am going to share thefive people who you MUST have on your team.
- A business consultant: Yes, this may seem like a shameless plug for my services but having a business consultant to guide you through starting and running your business will save you so much legwork. We are able to provide a wealth of information and resources while helping you to think through decisions. If you can not afford to hire a business consultant, there are not for profits like Women Business Centers, SCORE and Small Business Development Centers that provide low-cost or no cost sessions to assist you. No matter which stage you are in your business, a business consultant is an invaluable resource.
- A certified public accountant (CPA): You may be used to doing your taxes yourself and I am sure that you have done a wonderful job, if you are not in arrears. However, you need to consult with a CPA when you begin considering starting a business and quarterly once the business is established. Using a software program like Quick Books will allow you to manage your day-to-day accounts, revenues and expenses. It will also allow you to print reports to take to your CPA for review. Many CPA’s will bill per hour so being prepared will save you time which will save you money. Also, the more knowledgeable you are about your business finances, the less likely you will be taken advantage of. Warning: don’t let the fear of being taken advantage of stop you from working with a CPA.
- A business attorney: Find someone who specializes in working with businesses and preferably your type of business. If you are starting an entertainment company then you need an entertainment lawyer. If you will be patenting a product then you need someone who works with patents. Don’t assume because they are an attorney that they will be able to help with your needs. You need an attorney to review legal documents, advise on your business legal structure, and assist with succession planning. You should never sign a legal document without having your attorney review it. If the document was not designed to produce a favorable outcome for you, you are not entitled to bail on the agreement because you didn’t understand what you were signing. Knowledge is power. Also, if you need to have a legal document created. Search online for the basic document and have your attorney review it and make it compliant for your business. Attorneys also charge per hour and you would be amazed at how many hours it can take them to create a document versus reviewing it.
- Banker/financial advisor: Many banks have financial advisers on staff while some people choose to have a financial advisor not employed by their bank. Regardless which option you choose, you need a banker and a financial advisor. It is imperative that you have a good relationship with your banker. You should inquire whether they provide SBA financing, in case you need a SBA loan now or in the future. You should also be aware of the business banking services that they provide so that you can make sure your money is working as hard as you are. Your financial advisor can help you create a benefit package for yourself and/or for your employees. Not all benefit packages require employer contributions. A financial advisor can help you plan for the future of your business and it’s finances.
- Marketing/ public relations: This is one of the most overlooked team members because everyone assumes that they can do it themselves. However, the success of your business is largely dependant on the image of your company. You can have a great product or service but if no one knows about it then you are not going to be in business very long. So, the money you may be saving will not go as far as it would if you invested it in promoting your business which would result in more clients which would result in more revenue. Funny how that works. You have to spend money to make money. A marketing professional can help you design professional collateral (business cards, logos, brochures, newspaper and magazine ads, etc) as well as help you create strategies to get publicity for your business (press releases, events, etc). I will not shop with businesses that will not invest in their image. I find it pointless to make an investment in your business, if you are not committed to doing the same.
You need these people on your team! Start the new year off on a great start, stop fighting it and start searching. Don’t hire the first person that you meet with, no matter how impressed you are with them. Interview at least three professionals for each position, compare their rates and what you will receive in return. If you still are not satisfied, keep looking. These are not people who you want to replace each year. They are positions that want to be a staple of your company for years. They will have access to confidential information about your company and will be the people who you will rely on to guide the growth of your company. As you grow, you may even want to consider bringing everyone together once a year to ensure that everyone is on the same page with the advice that you are being given.
Did I miss anyone? Is there a professional on your (business) dream team that I forgot?