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Archive for July, 2007

Why it pays to have a network of advisors – part 1

Why do you need advisors? 

If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s likely that your training is in a specific specialty area. You’re brimming with ideas and very good at what you do.  Your major weaknesses are probably in sales, marketing, management, law, and accounting…in other words, those areas most critical to running a successful business.  The case for advisors is quite straightforward! 

What advisors do you need?

Accountant

Retaining an accountant is essential.  Accountants should do far more than help you keep books and submit tax returns. They can help you start and structure a business, write business plans, find investors, monitor and analyse finances, and more.

Find an accountant whose business and customer base are similar to your own. That person will understand your needs and challenges and will be willing to give you the time and attention you require. If you are in a financially specialised area, find a specialist accountant. Someone familiar with your industry will be able to assess your company’s performance better, and may have useful contacts too.Find an active, forward-thinking accountant and meet regularly. A good accountant will be able to analyse your finances and help you to review your strategies or structures when needed.

Lawyer

Lawyers’ fees can sometimes seem expensive but recovering from mistakes made by going it alone could be disastrous.  Like an accountant, a lawyer can give you some general business advice and will help you structure your business correctly at the outset. Find someone who has a specific interest in businesses like yours and, if necessary, specialist knowledge of your area.

Consult a lawyer when you set up the business, sign leases, draft terms and conditions, issue or receive contracts, enter into disputes, and for copyright or trademark protection.Always speak to your lawyer before you complete a legal transaction, not afterwards!

Insurance broker

Depending on your business, you may need to be insured for multiple items, such as vehicles, property, fixed assets, disability, liability…the list can go on.You’re unlikely to get a fantastic deal on insurance anywhere.  Find an insurance advisor who is trustworthy, competent, up-to-date and rigorous. That way you can rest easy, knowing that you can rely on your policies to pay out, should you ever need to claim?
 
Business Banker

You may be allocated a business banker when you open a business account but if you own a small business, don’t expect to be taken out to dinner, invited to golf days or even informed when your account is given to someone else.In today’s impersonal banking environment, the relationship with the bank manager isn’t what it used to be. Banks have rigorous rules and processes, and decisions tend to be out of your banker’s hands.

However, it’s still worth meeting infrequently to update your banker on your company, its progress and prospects. That way, when you need finance or other services, your banker might try just a little harder to get your application through or make an effort to give you personalised, rather than generic, advice.

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