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.