STEP 7: Support Team
I found out that many businesses went bust before they even went fully operational because they did not start right. Starting right can mean the difference between success and failure. It simply means I should have all the tools, information, facilities, contacts, money management and government complaints all fully prepared and organized. The four key professionals who could help me in getting all these logistics organized and put my organization on a path to starting up smartly and cost effectively are listed below. They will also be instrumental as my business grows.
1. Accountant / Financial Planner – I need a qualified accountant's expertise to ensure that my cash flow is in good order, expenses are well managed, tax liability is minimized and book-keeping is well organized. In some cases, a financial planner could cover a wider scope than an accountant.
2. Lawyer – An experienced lawyer will ensure that all agreements with my associates, staffs, and third parties are placed under well drafted contracts to protect my personal and business interests.
3. Banker – A banker can be helpful as the business gets running because I may need some financial facilities (ie short term loan, credit facility, checking account, treasury management) that can be useful from time to time.
4. Insurance Professional – I need an experienced insurance professional to identify all possible risks that I may encounter and insure all those risks cost effectively. I will not attempt to cut corners in this segment and land myself into any possible financial liability.
In addition, there are other supports that may be vital to certain types of business. Of course there is a long list of people who can help an entrepreneur along the way depending on the nature of the business. However, I manage to sum up four important supports that all business entrepreneurs should not miss out. The four are listed below:
1. Website Designer or Programmer – These folks could help me build my multi-functional Website that would be the backbone of my entire business if my business depends heavily on online transaction. A web presence is also essential for my company's brand positioning and customer after sales service.
2. IT Specialist – This kind of consultant could assist me to set up a paperless office system and an effective computer system to minimize office operational expenses. Beside, an IT Specialist could also ensure all business data and client database are well managed, hassle free and accessible.
3. Real estate agent – When owners are venturing into a brick and mortar business model, they absolutely need an experienced real estate agent to advise them on the overall cost of leasing or purchasing, location suitability for their particular business, amenities and parking facilities, monthly maintenance and whatever hidden costs.
4. Local business council / association – I would definitely join a local business council or association (usually there is a small joining fee) and find out what kind of support or advisory they could provide. Normally the group members conduct a regular forum or meeting, where members could seek out solutions to many of the existing problems and foreseeable roadblocks. Many of them would have walked through the problems and could share with me some valuable insights.
Before I start my search for any form of assistance and support, it's crucial to know what I want to accomplish with each of them and prepare a well-defined budget to meet my goals. However, I would be cautious as certain supports may be expensive! Once I hired them, I would work closely with them to attain my business goals in a strict timeline.
Regardless of who I retain, they should be well versed and experienced in the field of business I am involved in. Most importantly, I must be able to trust them, therefore I usually select my service providers through referrals, their years of experience (which is a key factor) and I must be comfortable dealing with them.
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