When I started my own business I had no clue, at all, what I was doing. It seemed so easy from the outside looking in. For many years I got by doing everything myself, but as the business grew I had to start getting help. To help me, I built a team that could help me run the business, and provide expertise in areas where I needed it. Some were employees, and some were consultants. So, who were some of these team members?
Bookkeeper: I have a self-diagnosed OCD problem. This has its pros and cons. One pro is that I am fairly good at general bookkeeping, and can spend hours chasing the $0.01 that keeps Quickbooks from balancing with my bank statement. As a business owner though, that is also a bad thing. Having someone that can do the day-to-day managing of the business’ in-flows and out-flows frees up not only time, but also mindshare that can be used on growing the business.
My business never reached the size of having a full-time bookkeeper. However, we were able to find someone to hire as an “Office Manager” that was able to handle this bookkeeping along with other responsibilities around the office. Just make sure whomever you hire is trustworthy, and that you have good checks-and-balances in place to keep this person accountable.
Tax Accountant: This may go without saying, but you cannot run your business, and understand the tax code. (I am not sure that if you spent all your time on the tax code you would understand it anyway.) A good tax accountant should save you more in tax payments each year than you pay them. To allow them to do their best work though, make sure you work with them throughout the year, and not just on December 31st. This will allow them to monitor how things are progressing in your business, and put tax strategies in-place to maximize your tax savings.
If your business is setup as a pass-through entity (LLC or S-Corp) it is a good idea to have a personal tax accountant as well. In many cases it can probably be the same person, but make sure you are clear when hiring them that they need to think about your business and personal tax issues.
Lawyer: If you are in business for long, and your business is growing, you will eventually need a lawyer. At some point it is almost a certainty that you will get sued by someone, have a partnership agreement that needs to be reviewed, deal with a nasty employee issue, or run into something that makes having sound legal advice a smart move. Start looking early for a lawyer that understands you and the way you run your business, and that will charge a fair fee for the work that they do for you.
I have dealt with some great lawyers, and some real ambulance chasers over the years. At this point I have developed a personal checklist of what makes a great lawyer. (I’ll cover my checklist in my next blog post.)
As your business grows, the team that will help you run it will also grow. The list I gave here is not an exhaustive list of the help you may need, but it is good start.