Owning your own business can be exciting - and it is also common that entrepreneurs can feel lonely and not certain about where to turn for advice. One of the best ways to make sure that your company has a solid foundation is to build a business advisory team that works for you.
What is a business advisory team? The best teams are made up of experts who can handle the areas of your business where you lack expertise. The long and short of it is that it’s impossible to do everything yourself. And with some things, like legal matters or taxes, you really shouldn’t try to DIY. Investing in the right advice for your business will save you money in the long run.
Additionally, when money is tight, you might think it would be better to put in some sweat equity and spend time just doing it by yourself. Truth is, your time is your most valuable resource. Especially when you are just starting out. Evaluating the time/money equation is a key part of setting yourself - and your new company - up for success.
When it comes to building your dream team of business advisors, there are a few types of professionals that we recommend you should always have on speed dial:
You knew we had to start here - bookkeepers keep track of the details - money in, money out, properly categorize transactions, reconcile accounts, and generate accurate financial reports so that you know where your business stands.
Having a great bookkeeper is also incredibly helpful during tax season. We stay on top of your numbers so that tax time is a breeze and your accountant thinks you're the most organized client in the world (trust us, they love clients like this!) We then help you put together all of your financial and tax documents in a nice, neat little package and send them over to your accountant.
At Hill Bookkeeping, we will also help you develop your goals and your budget for the year. Then we’ll check in periodically throughout the year to see how you’re doing and decide if the plan is working or if we need to make some adjustments. We are proud to offer some financial advisory services in addition to the typical, traditional bookkeeping assistance.
As much as we want to be the star of the finance show, we know that a good bookkeeper is nothing without having a rockstar accountant. How do you choose the right one for you and your business?
First, look for someone who understands the needs of your business. We always recommend looking for a CPA that wants to get to know you, your business, and help you develop a rock-solid tax strategy. Plan to meet with a good accountant at minimum 2 to 3 times a year: at least once for advance tax planning, once for taxes, and maybe once again to refine goals after your tax returns are filed. The right accountant will not only know how to file your taxes but also how to defend their decisions to the IRS, should you get audited.
There are typically some duties that overlap between your accountant and your bookkeeper. Ideally, they will work together to provide you with a full financial picture to help your business grow and thrive.
Having a good business attorney is one of those “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” types of expenses. We recommend having an initial consult with an attorney (typically for a flat fee of 1-2 hours of their time) to help you draw up or review any legal documents you might need for your company, such as service contracts or subcontractor agreements. Usually most attorneys will have templated versions of these documents and they will help you ensure you have boilerplate language in your forms to protect you and your assets.
It’s imperative that you find an attorney you can trust. Take the time to set up some initial phone calls and find someone you feel truly understands the nature of your business. Ultimately, you want to know that they have your back in the event that you are implicated in a disagreement or a lawsuit. You don’t necessarily need to have an attorney on retainer, but having an existing relationship will put you a step ahead because they already know your business and can more quickly get to work on your case.
In addition, a good attorney can also help you with legal formation documents, business registration matters, trademarks, etc.
Insurance, when done right, is not a race to the bottom to get the cheapest rate out there. Depending on the type of work that you do, a great insurance agent will help protect you and your business from all kinds of disasters that we don’t even want to think about on a regular basis.
Being prepared for the unexpected will give you and your clients peace of mind, whether you sell products or services. There are many different types of insurance and unless you are well-versed in current insurance products, we do not recommend going with an online quote from a faceless guy on a website.
We highly recommend finding a local representative whom you can talk to. Find out if they work with other business owners in your industry and what they recommend for a company like yours. Ultimately, the coverage you walk away with can be the difference between protecting your business and personal assets and financial ruin, so this is not an area we advise you to scrimp on.
Marketing Specialist/Graphic Designer/Web Team
Anyone can use Canva, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should. When designing your logo or choosing your brand colors, working with an expert can make all the difference between standing out and getting lost in the sea with all the other Canva Queens and Vistaprint Kings out there.
A high-quality branding package should include not just the design for your logo, but also your logo in different formats, in color and black and white, drafts for business stationery and business cards, and ideally, written brand standards you can distribute to other participants on your marketing journey, so they understand how your logo should look and what guardrails they have with designs.
Once you have your logo down, we recommend working with a web designer and marketing team to help you make your presence “pop”. Gone are the days of hanging out a shingle and hoping that people walk by. The digital sidewalk is now on social media and your web presence is your business card. Often the first time someone hears about your company, they will Google you - so make sure you make a great first impression with a website that draws them in and social media channels that make them want to click that follow button.
An HR (human resources) specialist is only necessary if you have employees, but if you plan to have people on your team, then you REALLY need to meet with an HR specialist before hiring anyone. They can help you build out your core employment documents - your employee handbook, time-off policies, and interview questions - and proactively prevent issues like discrimination and wrongful termination, all while helping with hiring and ensuring employee satisfaction.
Your HR team doesn’t have to be employee-facing, they can just interact with you! Having the right HR people when you are building your team can make all the difference between finding and retaining the right employees to grow your company and having a whole bunch of turnover.
A good benefits advisor is not just important when you have a team - they can also help you create a health insurance and retirement package for you as an entrepreneur! A fantastic benefits advisor will also work closely with your accountant to help you find the most cost-effective and tax-advantageous way for you to set up a benefits package that will take care of you and your bottom line.
When you have a team of employees, a benefits advisor will walk you through all of the different options for providing benefits of all types to your employees. They’ll also work with various insurance companies to help you find the right mix of benefits at a fair market price.
Whew! That’s a lot. Did we miss anyone? Who do you think is invaluable to have on your business advisory team? Drop us a line and let us know what your team looks like - and how we can help if you!