How to Assemble a Team of Trusted Small Business Advisors

July 13, 2011

Any small business owners knows that it is vitally important when running your own business to assemble a top-notch team around you. No matter how skilled you are, you need a team of trusted small business advisors if the business is going to be a success.

What types of advisors you need depends on the industry and your aspirations for the business.  However, most businesses will need a CPA, an attorney, a lender, a marketing consultant, and an insurance broker at a minimum.  As your business grows, the list of professionals on your “team” will grow, to include technical experts,

While most businesses will not have any of these individuals on staff, you will need to establish a good working relationship early on with these professionals so that you can always turn to them for advice and guidance.

Ask Around for Recommendations.

The first thing you should do is to ask others who they use as an accountant, as a lawyer, or as an insurance broker. Ask everything you can think of, including others who have businesses in your same industry. In other words, ask your competitors.

You may find that there are a handful of individual professionals in your area who are the best-known experts on your industry. You can benefit immeasurably from having someone with experience and expertise in your industry who can help guide you through similar hurdles that others who have come before you have overcome.

Of course, if you ask your competitors who they use as an accountant or a lawyer, they may not want to tell you to maintain a competitive advantage, but I think it’s more likely you will find they are happy to pass along a recommendation of a trusted professional they like and trust.

Conduct Internet Research.

After you have gotten a few recommendations of individuals, you should do some “opposition research” on your potential team members. See what information you can dig up on your potential team members.

Don’t stop at just checking out their websites, but also check common review websites such as Yelp to see if there is any negative feedback on these folks. You may save yourself a lot of time and headache by finding out early on that a potential team member has a reputation for sloppiness or rudeness.

Go with Your Instinct.

Whoever you choose to join your team, you are going to need to trust intimately. Only you know who will be the best fit for your personally in terms of your personality and what types of people compliment your skill set. So no matter how many people have recommended a particular professional, you need to be sure you can trust them. If you get a bad feeling about the person, you will end up not using them as much as you need to.

Trust, But Verify.

You will need your team to work well without your constant direct supervision. Follow the “trust, but verify” theory. Trust that your team members will act in your best interest, but verify the work they produce for you.

This doesn’t mean reviewing all work product coming out of your team members. But it does mean not taking such a “hands off” approach that you never review the work your team members are doing.

If you need even more tips regarding assembling a team of small business advisors around you, you may want to check out 7 Tips for Assembling a Team of Trusted Advisors for your Business by John Corcoran.



Guide to Forming & Investing in Independent Film Productions

July 8, 2010

Everyone wants to be in the movies, and that includes investors.  However, any potential investor interested in putting their hard-earned money behind an independent film production should be careful before making the decision whether to invest. There are a number of things which a potential investor should look out for before agreeing to invest in an independent film production.

The most common approach for structuring a film production is to form a Limited Liability Company, or LLC, for the purpose of producing one film.   A LLC is a form of business entity which provides the legal protections of a corporation without the formalities required of corporations.   Like a general partnership, the members of the LLC (or “investors”) can participate in management of the LLC, or most management decisions can be delegated to one manager (or “producer”). The LLC is a pass-through entity for tax purposes so if the film does produce revenues, each individual member pays their income taxes individually.

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Legal Forms for Startup Businesses

June 9, 2010

One of the fundamental questions for a entrepreneur starting up a new business is how to legally structure the new entity. Each has its advantages or disadvantages, and no one structure will work for every kind of business or individual owner.

If you are thinking of starting a new business, it is best to thoroughly research the pro’s and con’s of the respective entities and think through your goals in starting the business. Do you want a side business that generates a little extra income to supplement a primary job? Do you want to grow the business to be the next Apple or HP? Is this a simple business with minimal risk or do you anticipate your new business’s activities could expose you and your personal assets to a lot of risk? How you come down on these issues will help you determine what entity is right for you.

The most common ways of organizing a new business are as a sole proprietor, a partnership, an LLC, or a corporation.

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