When you run a small business, you call the shots. But you don’t have to do so in a vacuum. Make it a priority to assemble a roster of experts in various areas. These are the people you trust as important partners in growing your business, and to whom you can turn when you don’t know what to do next. These are some key positions you might want to fill on your team:
1. Banker Look for someone who seems to value your business. You might be more likely to find that at a smaller bank, but don’t rule out the big ones. More than an institution, you’re choosing an individual who will be a trusted partner for the long haul. You want a personal relationship with this person, so you can pick up the phone and land a call when you need to. This relationship is so important that if your banker were to later take a position in a different bank, you might even consider moving your accounts as well.
2. CPA Your CPA will have a bird’s eye view of your business, year after year. That gives him or her an excellent perspective on your company that can be a useful balance to your own perspective, which can sometimes be obstructed by the day to day. Again, choose someone who seems to truly want your business. And don’t be shy about calling up to run something by your CPA, from whether you should purchase an office building to if you should cash a big client check just before or after the end of the year. Sometimes a five-minute phone call can save you from a costly business decision.
3. Lawyer Ditto on that five-minute phone call when it comes to your lawyer, (although few of them can really talk just five minutes.) But pick up the phone before you make a move that could have unexpected repercussions for your business, like signing an office lease or firing an employee. Most law firms will allow you to come in for an initial meeting at no charge, to see if the chemistry is there. This is another of those business relationships you want to last for years, so you might need to interview a few different lawyers to find a good fit.
4. Computer Consultant Nothing can bring a small business crashing to a halt faster than a computer problem. If you’re unable to receive email or you can’t print that big client presentation, your stress level will go through the roof. Find someone to do regular maintenance, but make sure it’s also someone who can react quickly when there’s a sudden malfunction.