Organizing Your Business
Starting a business is a lot of work, stress, and responsibility. But you don't have to go it alone. Putting together a power team of business professionals, mentors, and helpful friends/family members will help you use your limited time and resources to the best effect.
Family and friends will be easy to recruit, but how do you find a good lawyer or an accountant? I've found personal referrals to
work well. If you know any small business owners in your area, ask them if they're happy with their lawyer, accountant or
whomever and then get the name so you know whom to call or whom to avoid.
Family and friends will be easy to recruit, but how do you find a good lawyer or an accountant? I've found personal referrals to work well. If you know any small business owners in your area, ask them if they're happy with their lawyer, accountant or whomever and then get the name so you know whom to call or whom to avoid.
If you had a great experience with a Realtor when buying or selling a home in the area, call them up and ask if they can recommend any commercial Realtors.
Once you find one business professional that you click with, get his or her recommendation in turn for other members to round out your team. Unless you are in a large city, the professional small business community is often small, and the players often know each other quite well.
You may need to interview a couple of different lawyers, accountants, etc., before you find someone that you will feel comfortable working with. When interviewing potential team members, make sure to find out their fee, whether you can email them with a quick question (and how that will be charged), what their area of expertise is, what they don't handle, and how many small business owners they've worked with before.
Below are some potential roles that you may want to fill for your own power team and a brief discussion of why each team member may be useful to you.
If you decide to organize your business as anything other than a sole proprietorship then you will probably want the help of a business lawyer. Other areas that may require legal help include registering/licensing your business, negotiating your lease, applying for a trademark, complying with ADA requirements, and even reviewing employment policies. Not just any lawyer will do - you want a commercial lawyer with small business expertise. Legal fees are expensive, and you may not end up having your lawyer look over your lease or help you with your trademark application, but it's a very comforting feeling to know that expert advice is just a phone call away.
Besides tax advice, your accountant can help you evaluate the pros and cons of various business structures, get your bookkeeping system up and running, help with the paperwork involved with hiring employees, and even devise reports that will let you monitor your business's financial health. A CPA is not necessary since most small businesses do not go to the expense of getting audited financials, but do find someone who has small business experience.
Commercial Realtors are typically paid by the landlord or managing agent, not you. So why not get some help in locating that perfect space for your shop?
Even if you are not getting a business loan, it is helpful to get to know a business banker at your bank of choice. Call and make an appointment and have them walk you through all the products they have available: business checking, merchant accounts, line of credit, etc. Business bankers are often extremely experienced and have great flexibility in how they can help. For example, I've had a home mortgage done on the business side of the bank instead of through the traditional mortgage department.
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Contact the editor, Craig Stark
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