Behind every successful solopreneur, there's a great team. Surprised? You might think you're going it alone, but no one ever really gets ahead without help and support from others.
The three most important people to have on your team are professionals you may be reluctant to engage: and attorney, an accountant and an insurance agent.
OK, I can her you screaming now, "What? I can't afford them!" Take a deep breath and hear me out. I'll tell you why you can't afford NOT to have these expert advisors on speed-dial.
Preparation and Prevention
If there is anything I can guarantee you about running a solo shop, it's that there will be bumps along the road. You will encounter customers who don't pay, people who aren't happy with your product or service, tax matters that need to be addressed, questionable contracts, theft or property damage, and potential lawsuits.
I say that not to scare you, but to be sure you understand.: the question is not if you will deal with these things, it's when.
You need to be ready, and the best way to prepare is to know experts who can help. That doesn't mean paying hefty retainers for a downtown law firm, although you certainly can if you choose. What it does mean is finding professionals you can trust and building a relationship with them so you know who to call when the need arises.
These advisors can help you avoid problems by pointing out potential issues you may not see. In addition to prevention, they can also help you prepare your business to handle what may come. That alone should help you sleep better at night, taking away some of the stress of "what if...."
3 Experts Your Need on Your Team
I recommend the follow three types of expert advisors as the basic A-team for every solopreneur. (This might actually be more than three people, depending on your needs.)
- A general business attorney experienced in working with firms like yours, for assistance with contracts, agreements and other legal issues that will inevitably arise in the course of business. An attorney well versed in intellectual property (IP), trademarks and copyright law can protect your own IP and ensure you have proper permissions when using someone else’s.
- An accountant / CPA for tax advice and financial matters. You might also want a bookkeeper to handle routine income and expense tracking. Most accountants don't mind if you choose to keep your own books with QuickBooks or another service. They can even help you set up your system to make tax time easier.
- An insurance expert to advise you on issues such as personal and business property protection, professional liability insurance, and how to manage other risks of running a business. This is especially important if you work from a home office or drive your own car for work.
Note - Our expert blogger team includes all of these people, but that's no substitute for having your own team.
You Can't Put a Price on Good Advice
In my book, Beyond the Launch, I write about how to recruit the right team for your business. High price does not guarantee quality, so shop around to find experts you can trust. Most won't charge you for an initial meeting, which you should use to find out if you'll be a good fit working together.
The best time to build a relationship with these experts is before you need one. Ask peers whose opinions you value for referrals, then schedule meetings and establish a business relationship so there is no delay when an urgent issue arises.
Look for people who are both knowledgeable in their field and interested in your unique business. Remember, you're not looking for a friend (and I don't recommend hiring one). When it comes to hiring an attorney, accountant, or other professional, a healthy mutual respect beats friendly rapport any day.
Once you find the right people to support your business, make sure you meet with them at least once a year, even if everything is going smoothly. Schedule a check-up to:
- Review your insurance coverage and make sure all policies are up-to-date.
- Check contracts and discuss any legal questions or concerns.
- Complete your taxes and develop strategies to keep more of the money you make.
These meetings an related services may cost a few hundred dollars a year, which is a worthy investment. These experts know things you don't. Their knowledge proactive advice can save you thousands of dollars in lost income, legal fees and taxes.
Action plan: If you don't have an A-team in place, make it your mission to find them in the next two weeks. You'll be glad you did.
Photo: John McKeage on FreeImages.com