How do you build a startup team? Business expert Barbara Weltman offers her own personal experience on the matter.
As a small business owner, your job is to focus on the core of your business. Getting customers, servicing them, marketing your business; you want to work with a team of experts to handle all the other responsibilities that go with running your business. It's going to wind up saving you money in the long-run to work with a good team of experts, because the time that you would spend doing those other things, you can devote to your business bringing more money to pay your experts. Plus, working with experts will keep you out of trouble and save you penalties and aggravation, and a lot of problems down the road. I’m a small business owner. I’ve been in business many years. And over the course of operating my business, I’ve used a variety of experts I’ve had to turn to. I continually work with my IT professional to maintain my systems because that’s the lifeline of my business. Even though I’m an attorney, I turn to an attorney for specific consultations of areas that I’m not familiar with. I work with a CPA to help prepare and submit online returns. Even though I totally know how to prepare them, it’s always great to have an expert look over your shoulder and get feedback. So I think [makes sound] whatever business you’re in, it’s essential that you have a team of experts that you can call upon when and if needed. When you're just starting a business, you want to work with an attorney to select the right form of business organization for you, whether it's incorporating, forming a limited liability company, or otherwise. You also want to work with an attorney for a number of other reasons. For example, just reviewing commercial leases, or reviewing contracts that you may want to sign. You also may have other questions, for example, employment related questions and you may want to run that by an attorney. So you can't be a lawyer for your business, you need to use an outside expert. Every business works with a bank, whether it’s just processing your payroll or, bringing in your money and paying your expenses. But beyond that, you may need to, to build a relationship with a banker. Perhaps you’re going to need a line of credit to expand your business, and cover you on a rainy day. Perhaps you’re going to be buying a, a building and you’re gonna need a commercial mortgage. So establishing a relationship with a banker can be invaluable going forward. On top of that, the banker may provide advice to you, and there’s no extra charge for that advice. It’s part of the service of the banker. You want to work with a good CPA who can talk to you, explain to you the tax opportunities that will save you money and impact your business decisions. For example, should you hire an employee or use an independent contractor? Should you buy or lease equipment? You want to make sure that the expert that you use is familiar not only with federal tax issues, but state issues that can impact your business. You want to work with a knowledgeable insurance agent who could advise you on the type of insurance that you must have, or want to have as well as the amount of coverage that you should buy. Unlike major corporations, small businesses don’t have in-house IT people to help you when something, when the server goes down or some other problem arises. So you have to have an IT professional that you can turn to immediately for service. And this person may be able to help you with a variety of things, such as security for your information, and protecting the security of your systems. And also helping you to expand what you need for your business. As you would search for a family doctor, it's always a good idea to ask for referrals from somebody that you trust. So you can ask one advisor to recommend another, so a CPA may know an attorney. An attorney may know a bank, or whatever kind of expert you're looking for, that's one way to find them. Then there are, of course, other ways to make connections through a local chamber of commerce, where you get to meet these people before you engage them, and get to know them. There are professional organizations that you can check out: bar associations, CPA state societies, they can recommend people. And, of course, you can always go to the better business bureau and check anybody out. Being a small business owner, you have to wear many hats, and you have to do many things. But you don’t have to do everything. And you, you can simply your, your business day and sleep well at night, if you know that you have a good team behind you to help you on problems, and issues, and opportunities that are out there.