As a business owner, wearing multiple hats is your norm. From answering phones that seem to never stop ringing, to jumping in to handle any situation on the spot, you know how to run your business like the back of your hand. As a Jack or Jane of all trades, you may have a smooth handle on a wide bracket of the services needed to make your business run but without the right team of niche experts in technical fields, you may be stunting your business’s growth. Highly technical matters of law, accounting, management, and marketing are best handled by external expertise. Spend more time focusing on expanding your empire by leaving intricacies up to professional service providers. Here is a list of must-have professional service providers for any growing business:
Legal and Accounting
Consulting with legal expertise prior to making business decisions that could have legal ramifications is a generally smart way to lay out the foundations of your business. Decisions like setting up or altering the terms of a partnership or corporation, verifying for compliance with regulations in regions you intend to do business, negotiating loans to finance expansion, obtaining trademarks or patents, tax planning, drawing up or revising pension plans, reviewing business forms, drawing up real estate documents, reviewing employee contracts and collecting bad debts are all vital actions that attorneys and accountants can assist within the beginning stages of your business.
But remember while you may have a strong rapport with the legal and accounting experts that initially aided you in starting your business, a different team may be needed as the needs of a growing business versus a startup differ greatly. After your business takes off, an assessment to analyze your team of professionals and how they fall in line with your current needs. Legal assistance in its early stages looks very different from an expanding business, looking to increase its mark internationally for example. Similarly, accounting needs grow more complex as business grows, taking on issues like setting up financial controls and navigating tax laws of entities for different states.
Marketing and Management Consultants
While many entrepreneurs are typically on firmer ground in the marketing and management space, hiring expertise can elevate your brand to new heights. Specific goals can be reached by working with a consultant, like help in systemizing and process-mapping the business functions or building out a comprehensive marketing campaign to market to certain demographics. However, be sure to do your homework when bringing on a consultant, as they can become pricey, ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars a day. Make it a point to know what the consulting fees will be and what exactly you are paying for. Seek consultants who ask in-depth questions regarding your needs and are in-depth listeners. Be prepared with a specific description of your business needs and avoid consultants with ready-made solutions. While the general functions are the same across industries, how you may execute will generally differ and may differ.
Coaching and Performance Development Coaches
We know that working with consultants not only boosts your business but also frees up your time which is of the highest value as an entrepreneur. However, what can’t be neglected is having a great business coach and/or personal development professionals that can guide you in the right direction. You are the star player of your team and building up your champion-level roster of expert professionals isn’t complete without someone being able to see the big picture and bring out the best in you which ultimately impacts your team. Some of the most successful business leaders have a business or performance coach helping them unblock limiting beliefs, navigate complex business decisions and provide sound insight. Get the right coach to guide you to your personal and professional best.
So now that you know what are some of the professional service providers you will need for your business. Identifying how to pick the best one for you is next on your list. But how?
Utilizing referrals, especially from other entrepreneurs is the best way to upgrade your professional services team. Asking people in the same sector of business as you is an organic way to seek top referrals. Asking other professionals, like asking your attorney for a recommended accountant and vice versa is another strong solution to finding the best fit for you.
Once you have garnered enough referrals, personally interview at least three prospects to gauge if they are the right fit. Take note of the following qualities:
- Experience: Focus on professionals that excel in your field, and small businesses in general. :
- Understanding: Does this professional understand your vision for the future and how to get there?
- Ability to communicate: Someone who is able to translate field-specific jargon in ways you understand are imperative to relationship building.
- Availability: How quickly can they respond to emergency situations and prioritize your needs?
- Rapport: Good chemistry will fortify a better relationship and positive results for your business.
- Reasonable fees: Shop around and get quotes from several providers before making your decision.
- References: Obtain a list of clients or other professionals to discuss competence, service, and fees
Keep your cost in check without hurting your chances of growing:
- Choose the right professionals: It is integral to match your needs with the skills and resources of the provider. The majority of small business owners do not need a large big name law firm or international accountant. Seeking out a small business expert over a megafirm eliminates high costs associated with their hourly rates.
- Examine your fee agreement: Ask candidates for a sample of their standard fee agreement for your review. Don’t go with anyone who is hesitant to submit to this request.
- Use paralegals and bookkeepers as part of your professional team: Some legal tasks can be done by paralegals for a lesser cost, and the same goes for using a bookkeeper over an accountant.
- Do your own footwork: Maintaining organized records, indexing volumes of documents and writing out memorandums can lessen your professional fees greatly.
- Meet with your professionals regularly: Meeting regularly avoids multiple rounds of phone tag, making better use of time and communication.
- Use your attorney as a coach for minor legal matters: Asking your attorney for advice on handling small legal situations can help you avoid higher costs in situations like filing lawsuits in small claims court, drafting employment manuals, and other uncomplicated legal tasks.
- Request and review your monthly invoices: Ask for a breakdown of time spent and costs incurred to date, being sure to double check for any discrepancies.
- Negotiate prompt payment discounts: Request a prompt-payment discount, even a small one helps save in the larger picture.
- Don’t make impromptu calls to your professional: Strategize and plan when you need to call so that you aren’t wasting money on a quick question.
- Negotiate outcome based fee arrangements with attorneys: An outcome based arrangement is a risk sharing plan, with successes and losses being reflected in the fees.
Surrounding yourself with the right team of professionals frees up your time and aids your business’s advancement. Without the right expertise, you may be holding your business back from its full potential.