It Takes a Village
You have probably heard the expression that it takes a village to raise a child. The idea is that each of the adults in the child’s life brings a different perspective. Well the same approach makes sense for your business. No matter how smart you are, no matter how much you know about your business, there are gaps in your skill-set.
You can fill those gaps by building an advisory board, or team of professionals, who can provide information and guidance in their areas of expertise. Best of all as a small business they don’t need to be full time employees. Your business village is your advisory board, and it can be filled with smart, talented subject matter experts who you engage on an as needed basis.
Who Do You Need in Your Business Village? (On your advisory board)
Your attorney’s primary objective is to protect you and your business from risk. As you set up your company, one of the first things you will need to decide is what type of company structure you will have; C-Corp, S-Corp, LLC, or sole proprietorship. Once you decide on your structure, you will need to file articles of incorporation. Yes there are forms you can use to fill this out on line, but your business structure will have long term tax and risk implications, so you should at least talk with both your attorney and accountant to be sure you are picking the right structure for your business.
Your attorney will help you prepare and review a range of legal documents such as contracts, non-disclosure agreements, and non-compete agreements with employees. Having an attorney who is familiar with your business will make these reviews much more efficient because you won’t have to start each review by explaining what your business is about.
There are bookkeepers, financial accountants and tax accountants. Which do you need? Well that depends on your comfort level with the numbers of your business. A bookkeeper will keep your day to day operations on track, paying bills and invoicing clients. A financial accountant is someone who can provide guidance not just bookkeeping assistance.
Your accountant should prepare financial reports on a monthly or quarterly basis and review key numbers with you. Your accountant should be able to help you predict if you have enough cash to meet future obligations and growth goals. A tax accountant does more than just prepare your tax returns, understanding your business, he/she can help you make decisions about when to invest, when to pull back, and how to avoid paying more than you should in taxes each year.
The worst time to establish a banking relationship is when you need money. As you start your business get to know your local business banker. He/she will advise you on the types of accounts you will need, develop a cash management strategy, and secure funding when you need it.
Your Financial Planner
For many small business owners, the business is your retirement plan. The question is will this be enough? Don’t guess. A good financial planner will look at both your personal and business finances to make sure you have what you need when you are ready to walk away from the business.
Your IT and Marketing Support
Sure, you can manage your computers and software on your own. You can post content on social media and call it marketing, but just like every other element of your business, you need to stop and ask yourself, should you? Is this the best use of your time, and do you really have the expertise to manage those roles in house. If not, it is time to add these professionals to your team. In both cases, the industry is changing rapidly. You need people on your advisory board who understand both the trends and your business objectives. Lean on them to make the right suggestions about where and when to invest so you can focus on growing your business.
Build Your Business Village
Sure you may own your own business, but you don’t have to do it all on your own. Start building your village today. Don’t try to do it all at once. Find someone in one of these categories and enlist their aid in filling the other slots on your advisory board.
It Takes a Village
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