The following is a guest post to Shawnee Country Club Online from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick talks about how to properly select business advisory networks.
Business advisors are so important to running a successful business that few entrepreneurs take on a new project without having a solid business advisory network in place before opening up shop. And having business advisors doesn’t just mean paying a professional for business advice related to one’s entrepreneurial venture, it means actually putting the information to good use as well. What follows is a comprehensive list of the business advice folks needed to get a business off the ground, as well as how to locate these people.
Professional Business Advisors
There are two types of business advisors that most entrepreneurs need. The first are the professionals that most people – business savvy or otherwise – inherently know are required partners: these are the bankers, lawyers, consultants, bookkeepers, insurance agents, accountants, advertising agents and business counselors. Most, if not all, will require a fee for services, although it may be possible to find some free assistance via SCORE or the Small Business Administration.
Informal Business Advisors
The second type of business advice-giver to seek out are those who serve more as independent business advisors than formal ones, such as mentors, other business owners in the same field and even friends. These are the folks that can assist more in the day-to-day operations of the business and usually require little more than someone asking them for help, and then being kept apprised of what’s going on.
Bookkeeper or Accountant?
Depending on how complex the business is will determine whether or not a bookkeeper, accountant, or both are needed. If things are complicated (retail businesses are a prime example), an accountant may be able to not only set up the books for the business as well as maintain them. But for those with simpler financial accounting needs, a bookkeeper might be the least expensive option for the majority of the work needed.
Consultants can take on a wide variety of independent advisory roles, and will depend on the type of business being run as to which will be the most helpful. Some entrepreneurs may need the services of a marketing guru, while others will require assistance from a health and safety pro. Make a list of the kinds of folks needed to get things going, and then consult with a local business organization to see if there are consultants in the area that can assist. Trade associations are also excellent resources to find these relatively expensive yet crucial partners.
Choosing The Right Business Advisors
Talk to other business owners in the area for referrals of the professionals they use, especially those in the professional business advisory category. Then, interview the candidates, asking them for references, successes and failures, and take note of their responses. Determine comfort levels and communication clarity as well, as these are important factors that may come into play later on when the stresses of running a business start to take their toll.
But no matter what happens, know that these people will directly affect the success of the business, so take the time to interview and mull over which person fits the bill the best before making a final decision about which business advisors to work with.