At some point your business will need the services of a professional firm or team and the best time to choose these advisors is before you need them. This gives you the time to carefully weigh up which advisor is right for you and your business, rather than when your back is up against a wall.
Accounting, financial and legal services
The types of advisors your business will need typically include accounting, financial, tax, insurance and legal services. The professional services they provide can help you with things like bookkeeping and structuring of financial solutions, drafting of contracts (e.g. lease agreements, supplier contracts and customer terms and conditions), and insurance that adequately protects your business and your family against the risk of loss.
Remember, depending on your chosen business entity, you may be legally required to make use of an accounting officer or an independent auditor to vet your financial results. If you’ve chosen to register your business as a trust, you will need legal assistance.
Some of the other professional services you should consider for your business include intellectual property protection (e.g. trademark protection), dispute resolution and provision of employee benefits (e.g. pension or provident funds).
Make a comprehensive list of the types of professional services your business may need, whether now or at some point in the future, then set about investigating the firms and professionals providing these services. You can do this through a combination internet-based research and recommendations from friends, family and peers.
As a next step, you can contact the firms and professionals on your short list and, where possible, set up an appointment to meet with them or schedule a telephone appointment. This won’t cost anything but your time and means you have a go-to contact when it’s time to use the services of a professional.
How to choose the right advisors
Having a set of criteria upfront will help you in your selection process, so think about what standards or measures you want your advisors to meet. As a start, their fees should be affordable for you, they must be reputable, be willing to work with you in a way that suits you and be big (or small) enough to cater for your needs.
Remember that, even if your business uses the services of advisors, you are ultimately responsible for your business and any legal or other obligations that come with it. No matter what advice you get, apply your own common sense and make sure that they, and you, meet your business commitments.
For more information, see Identifying your business advisors, page 13, The Nedbank Essential Guide for Small-Business Owners