When a customer walks in your front door, you have a team there to greet them, but there is also a team of professionals behind your business who should be on the job as well. While the delivery of great service may be the most important job of your business, there are functions and people behind the scenes who are also critical to your success.
An astute business owner must quickly learn no one can do it alone, and a key part of the profession is developing partnerships with trusted advisors who specialize in areas you do not.
This relationship building allows you to concentrate on providing first-rate service while allowing professionals you trust to concentrate on what they do best.
What follows is a bulleted list of teammates you might consider when assembling your winning team:
Certified Public Accountant (CPA): CPAs can assist with a lot more than tax preparation. A CPA who is proficient in working with small businesses can help with expense efficiencies and identifying areas in which you can improve cash flow. They have access to financial statistics that allow you to compare your business with peers. A highly skilled CPA understands the nuances of your industry and what your needs are.
Attorney: Using an attorney is wise for matters such as lease negotiations, employment contracts and buy/sell agreements. Finding an attorney who specializes in working with your type of business can speed up the process and identify potential problems or concerns specific to your industry. They can also make a business purchase or sale run more smoothly as they know the specific issues to address. Attorneys can help with human resources compliance and guidelines in order to avoid issues in these areas as well.
Insurance Agent: An insurance agent can help identify and offer suggestions that best fit your needs both personally and for your business. Insurance needs can be complex, and finding an agent who can provide insight in all areas is beneficial.
Banker: A good banker can offer financing solutions to buy or expand your business, as well as provide ongoing daily operational assistance such as fraud prevention. In addition, they have programs to assist with the purchase of equipment, lines of credit and the real estate that houses your business. A banker with a key understanding of your industry can offer insight on how financial decisions you make today will impact your shop in the future.
Here is key question to ask when developing a relationship with these teammates or any member of the team: Is this business relationship an investment or just an expense? In other words, do you have a consultative relationship with the members of your trusted advisor group? Are they providing you sound advice and ways to improve your business and maximize revenue?
A quality advisor is an investment. If you are not seeing the value, you should strongly consider making a change.
The good news is more often than not, a relationship with one core teammate can lead to others. If you already have a good CPA, ask him or her about attorneys, insurance agents and bankers they might recommend. Have a good attorney? Ask them about insurance agents. Also, take advantage of referrals and networking opportunities from industry trade associations and professional groups.
The key is to realize that no matter how large or small your business is, there is always a need for quality advisors to help propel you toward your goals.
Kristy Weaver is senior vice president and commercial relationship banking manager for Columbia Bank in Vancouver.