Starting a small business can be a very exciting and overwhelming enterprise! It’ll be a lot of work but don’t panic—we’re going to help you get started on the right foot. As a business owner you will need to wear multiple hats. This list may be daunting but most entrepreneurs are eager to take on the challenge:
- Business Owner
- Brand Manager
- Customer Service Supervisor
- Relationship Manager (vendors, clients)
- Accounts Payables/Receivables
- Marketing Coordinator
- Human Resource Manager (if you plan to hire staff)
- Executive Assistant
You’ll realize pretty quickly that the key to success is knowing your limitations. There are just some things you can’t (or shouldn’t!) do yourself. Here are a few professionals you’ll want to consult with as you begin to build your business.
Before starting a small business you will want to make sure your finances are in order, you’re following tax law to the letter and you have the funds to support the business for a set period of time. This is where an accountant comes in handy.
An accountant can look at your business plan to determine whether your business will be profitable, how long it will take to generate profits and what the best plan would be for minimizing loss and maximizing profit over the long haul. Once you’ve launched your business you’re going to be busy. An accountant can lessen your load by helping you establish payroll, track incoming/outgoing expenses and file your taxes in April.
There are always legal hoops to jump through when starting a business and consulting a lawyer is the best way to navigate them. First, you will need to decide whether you want a lawyer from a big or small firm. There are pros and cons to both. You’ll find more one-on-one attention and affordable rates with a small firm. On the other hand, large firms will be more expensive and you’ll spend more time speaking with the firm’s staff then the lawyers themselves. Even so, large firms do hold more clout in the community and a larger legal team means you can meet all your legal needs under one roof.
Once you find your lawyer, they can help you with a number of important tasks such as structuring your business to reduce personal liability, ensuring protection from unwanted litigation and minimizing your tax burden. Your lawyer can provide advice about licensing and regulations you may not be aware of and help you protect your intellectual property. And finally, you can look to them for help understanding the contracts you may be signing (ie. leasing agreements) as well as developing legally binding contracts for use with clients and vendors.
If you don’t have all the necessary funds for starting a business then you will need to consult with outside funders. The first people to ask for seed money would be family and friends. Just keep in mind that mixing money with family/friends can be dangerous for maintaining relationships! If you’re not keen to ask for help so close to home, here are your other options:
- Banker: If you’re planning on getting a business loan you will need to consult with a banker. You’ll want to choose one with an understanding of business accounting from a bank you have a good track record with. Your banker will guide you through the application process and help maximize your chances of being approved for a loan.
- Investors: If you plan to ask for funding from outside investors you’ll want to consult with them fairly early on. Investors like to be involved in the planning stages as a way to minimize their risk of loss.
The type of insurance you will need as a business owner will depend on the scale of your business. Will you have staff? Is your business home-based or will you have a public office? Will you be using your car for business purposes? An insurance agent can help tailor an insurance package to your specific business needs.
You’ll definitely want insurance for peace of mind. Insurance will allow you to protect your assets (ie. your vehicle, office space, equipment and yourself) and limit your risks. You’ll be able to sleep at night knowing that you’re prepared for the worst-case scenario!
Business Coaches or Entrepreneurs
Who knows the trials and tribulations of starting a small business better than successful entrepreneurs from your field? Business owners know the journey well and can give you some real-world insight on the pros and cons of being your own boss. A business coach can pass on the knowledge they learned the hard way! You may even get referrals to trusted lawyers, accountants, bankers and insurance agents to help you get started.
You will probably want to look outside of your location so you’re not consulting with a business owner who’d be in direct competition with you. However, don’t stray too far since markets vary wildly from place to place!
Now that you know who to consult as you build your small business you’re ready to assemble your very own A-Team! Don’t try to spread yourself too thin—who has time to become an accountant, lawyer and insurance agent when you’re starting a business?!