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Organizing Your Business
Part II: Assembling Your Power Team

Clicks-and-Bricks Used Bookstore Series

by Jill Hendrix

#101, 13 August 2007

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.

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.

Business Lawyer:

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 Realtor:

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?

Commercial Banker:

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.

Graphic Designer:

Unless you're an artist yourself, you are going to need someone to design your logo, business cards, and perhaps even some advertising. If you are currently working in a corporate environment, make friends in your company's graphic design department and see if anyone would be interested in making some money on the side. Alternatively, drive around town and find an independent business whose logo you like and see if the owner will share the name of its designer.


Many used bookstore owners have some or all of their shelving custom-built. My father built my store fixtures, and I'll be providing the plans later in this series. Even if you purchase all your fixtures, you may want to have the wall cases attached to the wall for additional stability. Also, once you sign your lease, everything in the inside of your shop is usually now your responsibility. So, if the toilet stops working or your light fixtures are too high for you to reach to change a bulb, whom are you going to call?

Computer Expert/Programmer:

If you're not great with technology then you may need someone to advise you on hardware purchases and help you get a computer backup system in place. A programmer may be useful if you want to add features that didn't come with your website or if you need help exporting from your inventory system to the various online listing services.

Industry Mentor:

Rather than reinvent the wheel each time, do you know someone in the industry that you can turn to with questions? If not, consider joining your regional booksellers association. Or there are free online resources such as the BookThink Open Shop Bookstores Forum and the Oldbookstore Yahoo Group.

Backup Employee:

If you're not planning on having regular help, you may still need someone who could step in for you in the case of an emergency or if you come down with a bad case of the flu. A backup employee will give you the opportunity to take a vacation from time to time without having to close your shop down completely. It's also helpful to have someone else around to work the register if you need to meet with sales reps or run errands during normal shop hours.

Manual Laborer:

Who will you take with you to library sales to watch your boxes and then help you cart them all back home? Once you sign your lease, who will be helping you move your stockpiled inventory into your shop?

Good luck assembling your team and if you have any questions, please email me at or post your query to BookThink Open Shop Bookstores Forum.

Stay tuned for the remaining parts of this article:

Part III - Picking Your Business Structure

Part IV - Registering Your Business

Part V - Creating Your Business Logos

Want to read more articles by
BookThink's Contributing Editor Jill Hexdrix?
Click here.

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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