Running a business is tough work, especially because most in our industry started out as installers or because we had a passion for audio video. Most of us did not come into this trade with MBAs or great business knowledge. In our tech world, we have to be masters in many areas, which makes also being an expert in business very difficult.
That’s why we must not be shy about asking business management experts for help and/or advice. Here are four relationships you need to make to create a solid team that will ensure business success today and down the road.
1) A Banker
Banks can be unsympathetic, with their high ceilings, quietness, and cameras everywhere. One rarely gets a warm and fuzzy feeling when walking into a bank. Forming a relationship with your local banker, however, is vital. They can help not only with banking but often payroll, investments, and credit card processing (apparently the most lucrative job ever if you go by the amount of merchant processing calls and walk-ins we receive). Do you need a line of credit established for that big residential job or corporate gig with 90 days terms? Need to set up a retirement account? Should you have more than one account for payroll and paying bills? Having a relationship with your banker makes the chill of the bank go away.
2) A Lawyer
This is your general practitioner for all your law needs. The sad thing about the world we live in is that you may need more than one lawyer these days. You want a lawyer that will not charge you every time you call or email with a question. If they do charge, you will not ask that question, and you will pay more later when you are sued for some crazy reason. Your lawyer should be someone you can talk to; you never know when you will need a good one on your side.
3) An Accountant
Different tax codes for different counties equates to paying quarterly sales tax differently, and if you do not know how to report it properly, you can end up in a lot of hot water. I have seen more than one large business go down in flames due to tax fraud. Pay your taxes, and make sure you are paying them right. If you’ve given out a donation, make sure you are getting your deduction. Buying coffee for you team? Make sure you are entering it correctly. I talk to my accountant about once a week, and she is awesome. When I met her and was learning more about the business, (before I bought the company) she said to me, “I’m going to teach you numbers,” and she has. This is the type of accountant you want and need, not the type that will throw jargon at you so you learn nothing.
4) An Insurance Agent
I never, ever wanted to know anything about insurance. It is just not my passion, and yet it’s such an important part of your business world. Without the right insurance, an accident can force your doors closed tomorrow, for good. Recently, I posted on Facebook looking for a plow service (if you lived in Buffalo where it snowed 84 inches last year, you would be looking for plow services in September too!). My insurance agent emailed me moments later reminding me make sure the plow service has liability insurance (yes, I’m friends with my agent on Facebook. That’s how well we work together).
5) An Owner of a Similar Business (Bonus Points for These Relationships)
Other relationships that can add value to your business are repair shops and IT companies. Send them some business, and then when you need them on that big job, you will have a partner that will respond when needed. Or on that day when you walk in and QuickBooks won't open, you will have someone to call.
At a moment’s notice, you should be able to call or email any of your team above. The better the relationship, the better and more solid your business. We are too busy to be experts in all these fields, so pick a team that works well with you and your style. Before I hired my accountant, I asked if she could respond to my questions within 24 hours and if she would take my calls and questions. She has never let me down. Nor has my lawyer, insurance agent, or banker. This is how your team should work for you.
What other team members do you think you need to run a successful business? Tell me in the comment section below.