QUESTION: I am a one-person operation and sometimes feel overwhelmed with the many decisions I must make for my small business. Who can I turn to for advice and guidance?
ANSWER: Any small-business owner is wise to seek guidance from the following five professional resources:
- A competent attorney can assist you in many areas, including your selection of a legal entity, contractual questions, lawsuits resulting from errors or omissions, and purchase or sale of the business.
- A certified public accountant can assist with year-end accounting and tax issues, and work with your attorney on matters requiring the expertise of both parties. A good bookkeeper can handle the day-to-day billing and collection functions, and their fees are usually less than those of the CPA.
- Your banker is a critical player. You should develop a strong relationship with a bank that understands how to value your business. Establish a line of credit to tide you through seasonal slowdowns and ensure your ability to meet expenses in a timely fashion.
- An agent or broker who specializes in commercial insurance can guide you through the many pitfalls you might encounter from a property and liability standpoint. Insurance policies are complex, and you need a professional to help you make the right coverage decisions for your company. Remember, you get what you pay for, and if you think the premiums are too high, you certainly cannot afford to assume the loss.
- We live in a digital world, and you need a strong Internet and social media presence to help market your goods or services. While numerous sites encourage you to do it yourself, it is wise to enlist the help of someone expert in website design, maintenance and optimization. Search engine optimization is the method used to ensure your site is prominent on the first page of the major internet browsers.
Your main focus as a small-business owner is to grow your business. Do what you do best and don’t allow yourself to spend valuable time trying to do the work of these professionals.
Your local SCORE business chapter has many trusted resources and contacts developed over the years who have conducted workshops and assisted other clients. You may find them a good resource in case you do not have a current relationship with any of these professionals.
Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples. Business counseling on this and other business matters is available, without charge, from the Naples Chapter of SCORE. Call (239) 430-0081 or visit https://naples.score.org/mentors .The SCORE business office is located at 900 Goodlette Road North, in the Fifth Third branch bank building.