Lawyer and professional coach Glen Keene gives practical tips to businesses about improving customer and employee relationships and expanding their customer base and more.
Every business, from the soloprenuer to the large multi-national corporation, needs a team to be successful. No one can do it all by themselves, although some may try. Those who do try to do it all usually fail, but not for lack of trying. It’s a case of, maybe, trying too hard, of trying to do too many things. There is only so much time in the day and only so many things we can do ourselves.
As a small business owner you need to concentrate on the core of your business. Your primary concern is focusing on your service or product and satisfying the needs of your customers or clients. That’s how to grow your business. Not by doing the accounting, bookkeeping or tax returns, unless, of course, you’re an accountant or bookkeeper. If you are that’s great. But, you need a team as well.
Your team members may include an attorney, accountant, bookkeeper, employees, partners, vendors and suppliers, your networking group ‘€˜sales team’ and an executive/leadership coach, among others. All of them are important to a successful enterprise. Choosing the right ones is, therefore, a critical decision for you to make. Choose wisely.
Some of the things you may want to consider when making those decisions are:
Attorney. The law is a very large canvass. It would take a large law firm to represent clients in every aspect of it. There is also the fact that you, as a small business owner, do not want to pay, nor should you pay, their hourly rate. Choose a firm or attorney who knows business law and represents businesses. Finding one can be as easy as asking someone who has a business who they use. Check the local bar association’s referral service. Ask the members of your networking group, if you belong to one.
Accountant. Tax law is a major part of that large canvass mentioned above. There were more than 500 changes in the tax code in 2011. With all that you do operating your business can you keep up with that? The good news is you don’t have to. There are many specialty areas in the law and there are many in accounting. Just as it is important to choose a law firm that specializes in business law it is important to choose an accounting firm that is familiar with the accounting needs of your specific type of business.
Not all businesses are alike. If you are in a niche business, a hair salon or a pharmacy for example, or a professional practice such as medicine, pick an accountant or firm that specializes in that area. As with finding the right law firm you should use the same steps to find the right accounting firm. Make sure the firm knows small business tax law and is familiar with the needs of your business.
Partners. One of the most important business decisions you will ever make concerns who you go into business with if you intend to have partners. Having a business partner(s) has many obvious advantages. Among them are sharing the responsibilities and work load, brain storming decisions and supporting each other.
Business partners should be compatible in work ethic, temperament, abilities and skills. It’s very important that your skills complement each other. For example, if one of you is good at sales the other should be good at managing an office.
Being business partners with relatives and/or friends may seem like a good idea, especially if you get along well. But, bear in mind that a work or office environment is vastly different than at the gym or coffee shop. Remember, you are going to be spending a lot of time together, much of it under stress. Don’t go into business with your sister or cousin just because they are related to you. Choose them because they are the right fit, your goals are in alignment and you get along well.
A cautionary tale. Many years ago I represented two friends with whom I was close and they were close with each other. They were very business compatible, one being the back office type, the other great out in the field. A partnership made in heaven. They shared similar dreams and goals; to build the business, eventually sell it and ‘€˜retire’. Their business grew bigger and they grew apart. Goals can change and people can too. The business ‘€˜divorce’ was as messy as any marital divorce would be. The lesson here is to understand that under the pressure of running a business even the closest relationship can fall apart if not tended to. Communication is key for any successful relationship, in the business world and out. Keeping the lines of communication open can help prevent the business, and the relationship, from collapsing.
Glen is an attorney, certified professional coach and host of ‘€˜Spotlight on Success’ streamed live every Wednesday at 6:30p from RocklandWorldRadio.com. Glen’s guest on May 9 is the owner/operator of rocklandworldradio Richard Quinn.
This article is for information purposes only. No legal advice is intended nor may it be assumed or implied.