Running a small business is an honorable and rewarding pursuit, but it doesn’t come easy. The tasks involved in running a business can be overwhelming and there is a vast range of skill sets required to accomplish them correctly. Whether it’s business development, operations, bookkeeping, accounting, team management, financial management, or legal organization, you are bound to hit a brick wall in some areas that may not be your strongest suit. This is why it is important to create a team of professionals and partners to help enable you to run your business at its highest optimal level. Not only should you surround yourself with a team, but you should go to great lengths to ensure your team is filled with people you trust and are the best suited for yourself and your business.
While many go at business ownership alone, the ones who work with a trusted team spend fewer hours doing things they don’t enjoy, have lower levels of anxiety, and can reach much greater efficiency which ultimately leads to more successful and rewarding businesses.
Below are some examples of the types of team members you should be looking for:
A Reliable Bookkeeper / Business Manager
The lifeblood of any successful business is cash flow. Businesses that track and manage the inflows and outflows of their money tend to be the ones that stick around. It is as simple as that. Maybe this is your strong suit, but for many, it is not. You probably got into your business for more meaningful reasons than counting receipts and expenses, so you should probably let someone else take care of that and allow yourself to worry about the bigger picture of your company.
However, if you are going to outsource this work it is crucial that you find someone who knows what they are doing and who you trust. We have all heard the horror stories of that bad bookkeeper who stole money or missed bill payments due to a lack of organization that ultimately placed a company in financial distress. Don’t let this be something that happens to your business.
Maybe you have a family member who is organized and detail-oriented that would be a great addition to your company as a business manager. There are also plenty of highly skilled and trustworthy bookkeepers you should consider hiring so that you don’t waste precious hours per week with your head stuck in spreadsheets, bank statements, or learning QuickBooks. You will be amazed at the amount of time and mental energy it will save you.
An Experienced Attorney
It is no secret that the legal field is difficult to manage and can be filled with landmines – that is what attorneys are here for. As a small business owner, you will find yourself navigating countless legal documents that are required to open and operate your business, not to mention the need for you to protect yourself and your assets due to the various liabilities you may have attached to your work.
Attorneys are highly specialized and you need to know who to contact for different types of legal questions or issues. For example, a personal injury lawyer is not going to help you very much if your company is being purchased and you are negotiating a merger or buy-out.
Depending on the type of work you are in and the scale of your business, it may not be necessary to have an in-house lawyer or an attorney on retainer, but it is a good idea to have someone in your contact list who can be a go-to professional when legal questions pertaining to your business arise. There are a ton of ways to get access without breaking the bank. Connect with attorneys in your area and leverage online resources for understanding exactly what you need.
A CPA (Certified Public Accountant)
Filing taxes as a small business owner is a lot different and much more complicated than filing as an individual who is an employee of a company. Not only are the ways in which you are paid treated differently (e.g. W2 wages vs. self-employment income), but many different business structures have unique tax treatments that you must be aware of to avoid getting yourself into trouble with the IRS. For example, C-Corporations are taxed at the company level and are considered their own tax entity whereas S-Corporations and LLCs are considered “pass-through” entities that can be included on the owners’ personal tax returns.
In addition to simply filing your taxes correctly, savvy tax planning decisions are crucial to saving you a lot of unnecessary tax bills to the government that could otherwise be used to grow your business. For example, taking the right deductions at the right times and setting up employee benefits such as retirement plans and healthcare in tax-efficient ways could mean all of the difference in keeping your companies tax bill as small as possible.
The key thing to remember is that there are incredible amounts of tax-related decisions to be made as a small business owner and every situation is unique, so having a savvy CPA who is familiar with your industry and your company makes all the difference when it comes to tax planning.
Advisory Board, Coach, or Mastermind Group
Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, it might wind up somewhere else.” This rule of thumb applies to business ownership as well. There might not be any better way to ensure that you do know where you are going than to have an advisory board, mastermind group, coach, or some other type of accountability partner to help you navigate your vision.
Every step that you take as the owner of a small business should be in the direction of your long-term vision. That seems easy enough until you hit roadblocks along the way and learn that you must adapt and pivot at times to survive. Consulting with experienced individuals who have seen the ups and downs of businesses like yours, or who might be going through the same struggles will help keep you honest and focused on keeping your eyes on your targets.