As you move your business from idea stage to implementation, you should seriously consider getting expert advice. The time to get input from various experts is before you incorporate, before you open a bank account, and before you start taking customers. But who should you talk to? Below is a list of six professionals you should include in your research as you develop your business plan.
If you thought lawyers only came in handy during litigation, think again. Here are five specific ways a lawyer can assist you in setting up your business.
- Helping you decide the best structure for your business to protect you from unwanted litigation and a heavy tax burden
- Discussing licensing and regulation hurdles and advising you on ways to overcome them
- Reviewing and writing contracts to protect your interests
- Advising you on the best strategies for protecting intellectual property, including trademarks and domain names
- Researching legal advantages and disadvantages of various scenarios you may encounter in the early life of your business
Just as you should consult a lawyer, you should consult an accountant before going into business. Five ways an accountant can advise you on your startup plans include:
- Working with your attorney to establish the right business structure to minimize your tax burden and maximize profit potential
- Checking your numbers to help you arrive at the best price point
- Advising you on the best accounting practices for your situation
- Assisting you in setting up your record system to make financial reporting easier
- Teaching you how to analyze financial statements to make better business decisions for the long term
You should speak to your attorney and your accountant before talking to a banker, but you will need to engage a banker who understands business accounting. Some practical ways a banker can help you start your business are:
- Reviewing your business plan to help you avoid potential pitfalls
- Advising you on the processes involved in obtaining a loan and/or credit
- Analyzing financial trends in your business sector and providing insight into how they may affect your business
- Assisting you in setting up the proper financial instruments so you can manage your finances better
- Working with you to calculate your break even point and cash flow projections
A Trade Journal Editor
This might seem like a strange addition to this list, but it’s a good idea to find out if your industry has a trade journal. Trade journal editors are great sources of information about
- Current trends in your business sector
- Information pertaining to competitors
- New laws and regulations that will affect your business
- Technologies on the horizon
- Market opportunities no one else may have noticed
If you have a mentor, that person most likely knows you well enough to help you see potential pitfalls in your business plan. Not only that, but your mentor can provide insight into your strengths and weaknesses that can help you steer your new business in the right direction.
Before you ask an investor for money you should include that person in the planning process. One way to do this is to invite them onto a steering committee or your board of directors. By including investor input early on your chances of obtaining seed money grow exponentially. If anything, a potential investor can tell you why your business is an investment risk.
Many business plans fail for lack of proper guidance and good counsel. Talk to seasoned professionals before you jump in. You’ll thank yourself later.