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Small Business Primer – Part 4: Seeking Professional Advice

Jeremy Wright

After our last installment, when we talked about providing excellent customer service, you might have thought that, armed with your skills, experience, (a little charm) and the right CRM solution, you could do it all. Wrong! You can’t do everything. You may have built yourself up to be a god in your own eyes, but you and your new company will never survive if you feel you can (and must) do everything.

No businessman should be a rock unto himself — we all require a helping hand at times. Sure Tim Allen liked to try to do everything himself, but how well did he succeed, hmm?

Everyone Needs A Hand

For whatever reason, be it the examples set by large corporations, cultural habits of isolation, or the simple fact that we often fail to realize that we actually need help, few of us allow ourselves to reach out to other professionals and request assistance.

The reality is that it’s impossible for anyone to do everything perfectly all the time. But the likelihood of staying on the ball does increase as you pull together a team of professionals. In this article we’ll look at just a few of the professions and people to whom you should turn to enable your business to succeed.

Playing To Strengths

Because none of us is able to do everything perfectly, the ability to play to another individual or company’s strength not only allows us to have a better product, service and company, it also frees us up to do what we do best.

Obviously, if you’re a Web designer, some immediate thoughts you might have about people to turn to might include a strong developer, possibly a copy editor, and maybe a management consultant. These would be fairly obvious choices — every small business also has several other professionals that they might require on occasion.

Establishing good working relationships with at least one person from these professions will not only provide peace of mind, but will also allow your business to grow unhindered by the “gray areas” or uncertainties to which so many companies fall prey.

Essential Professionals Every Small Business Owner Needs

As we’ve already discovered, having people on your side who are more experienced than you are in particular areas is incredibly valuable. That said, there are times when certain professions are more than valuable. They are essential.

An Accountant

Come tax time (and all too frequently during your year!) you’ll be required to “keep the books”. Of course you could do it on your own if you were particularly gifted at math, but why do that when you can turn to a true professional?

Often the best way to choose an accountant is to simply ask around. Try to find one who’s used to dealing with new small businesses, as these professionals will probably be more sympathetic to your simple questions (and are less likely to charge you an arm and a leg).

Find someone with whom you’re comfortable asking even those questions that would be an embarrassment were you to ask them at your local Chamber of Commerce. Your accountant should be a sounding board for all things financial. They should be patient, knowledgeable and experienced. In essence, they should be someone you can trust completely to take care of this critical aspect of your business.

A Lawyer

To many, the very word “lawyer” sends shivers down the spine. After all, we’ve all heard the horror stories of lawyers who have charged clients $500 per hour, though the client still lost the case – one which should never have gone to court in the first place.

The reality of business, though, is that the ability to consult a professional on intricate matters of the law, or to simply obtain advice on a contract or agreement, is invaluable to the growth of a business.

Companies like PrePaidLegal allow businesses to have an unlimited number of phone conversations with their lawyer. For a monthly fee of roughly $25, businesses and individuals can enjoy peace of mind, so that they can function as they should, focusing on their own speciality. As an associate of PrePaidLegal, I can personally attest to how it has provided me the freedom to do what I do best, instead of being worried about something as fundamental as the law.

Extending Your Hand To Others

Part of receiving is the responsibility to give. Because others have extended their helping hand to you, you have a responsibility to make yourself available to others. I’m not talking about pro bono work, but about the act of making yourself available to other professionals.

When you own a ferret, you have a responsibility to let others know how great ferrets are. In the same way, being a Web developer entails a responsibility to plug your profession to others. This isn’t a responsibility to sell your own services, but to promote the profession as a whole.

At the End of the Day

The easiest way for any business to die is to try and be an island. By reaching out and letting others exert their skills, you will help create a community of professionals where everyone’s lives and companies are enriched. This very act will allow you to be what you are, and to relax in the knowledge that certain complex affairs are taken care of: much like we try to do for our clients.

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In the next article, we consider the important question of branding and marketing your services to an eager audience…