Here are the five essential people you need in or around your business. It’s smart to identify them before the ink is dry on your lease, incorporation papers, or first client contract. Got your pencil ready? Here’s the list….You vaguely know as you launch your business that you’re going to need a tax guy (I use “guy” as a unisex term). You’re going to need a lawyer – not very often, you hope – and you’re going to need somebody to help you with our computer stuff. That list is a little loose for my taste. Here’s a slightly more specific roster of the five people you can’t do business without – or, let’s say, you’d better have in your corner before things get any more hectic than they are right now.
1) BOOKKEEPER. A bookkeeper is not a CPA. This is the person who does your books, and if it’s you, you’d be wise to take a quick course in QuickBooks (although there is a very simple version of it available for non-financial types) before you drive yourself insane creating your financials from Excel and from scratch. Many, many entrepreneurs use a part-time or freelance bookkeeper. If debits and credits are your thing, this person could be you, but far too many of us do our books out of a sense of guilt that we CAN and SHOULD learn this stuff, and we CAN and SHOULD keep up with it…but why? Modern life is all about specialization.
2) LAWYER. Yes you do need a lawyer. If you want a trademark, want someone to review a contract, or even want to create a sales compensation plan, you’ll need a friendly, casual (as in “I have something I need you to do TODAY for me!”) relationship with a versatile business lawyer. Not a real estate lawyer, a corporate litigator, or your younger sister’s boyfriend who specializes in maritime law. A true-blue small business lawyer. I talk to mine about twice a month. Essential.
3) IT PRO. This one could be your younger sister’s boyfriend, as long as technology is not mission-critical in your business. Let’s not be sexist, though – this could be your younger brother’s girlfriend (or anybody’s boyfriend or anybody’s girlfriend, for that matter) just as easily. He or she should know PC or Mac support, be familiar with the applications you rely on, have a handle on networking, and be easy to work with – that’s key. By the way, an IT support pro is not the same as a web designer – two completely different skill sets. Sometimes you find them both in one person. Sometimes, you learn the hard way that that’s not so easy to do.
4) PEOPLE PERSON. Ay carumba, the mistakes entrepreneurs make by assuming that they’ll be their own best HR person. Now, of course, I’m not suggesting that you hire a real HR person – most small businesses are years away from that. But you must find someone, a trusted friend or a neighbor’s spouse or someone else you can call in a pinch and lots of less-pinchy situations, to walk you through the people issues. A second brain on a vexing management problem (or recruiting problem or employee conflict or what have you) is golden. Don’t take the view that the people stuff solves itself. It doesn’t.
5) A TAX PERSON. Now here’s your CPA. The tax person looks at your reports and your documentation and files your taxes quarterly or annually. Yes, you can do this yourself too, if you’ve got the inclination, the time and the training.
You can see that I left out your Marketing person, your Virtual Assistant and your Home and Office Organizer – not to mention your Massage Therapist, your regular Therapist and the amazing Colorist who gives you those to-do-for highlights once every six weeks. Those folks, for me, are nice to haves – the five on the list are the can’t-live-without crew. Agree, or disagree? Leave a Comment below and tell us what you think.