Episode Summary – How To Choose Your Support Team

How do you choose your support team to make sure all the critical business functions are done?

Welcome to episode 11 where we talk about the people who may become your support team members

While you might expect some of the roles, others might be a surprise.

Many new business owners try to take a DIY approach and do too many roles outside their knowledge and skills. But they find out there is always a price to pay in either valuable time or getting things wrong.

Remember, Listen Before You Leap!

 

Links and resources

Blog-Thinking of owning  a business-would you be successful?

Self Assess Your Readiness with our Business Readiness Test

Blog- 5 risks new business owners can avoid

Blog -Managing a business-tips for new owners

Episode 11 How To Choose Your Support Team

In Episode 6 Critical Business Functions, we explain 11 functions that your business has to perform to thrive. There is a free downloadable worksheet in the show notes to help you.

In Episode 10, we covered how to assess your knowledge and skills to perform these Critical Business Functions and identify where you may have gaps.

Each of us has individual skills and abilities necessary to operate a business successfully. But we also know that you will probably lack specific knowledge or skills, as no-one is good at everything.

Once you’ve undertaken this self-evaluation, you’ll have a series of gaps that have to fill. 

How do you choose your support team to fill the knowledge or skills gaps? 

Well, the answer will be a little different, depending on your situation. If you have funds, you might employ some people who have the knowledge and experience you need. 

If though you are starting, you may outsource those functions, probably as cheaply as you can and only when you need them. 

And, if you are somewhere in between, you might engage the services of a business coach who might be able to help with you with a lot of the strategic work.         

Let’s list some of the professionals, who can help, along with what each does and how they can integrate into creating and growing a business.     

6 People for Your Support Team that can help your business thrive.

#1 Business Mentor.

The reason a Business Mentor is No.1 on your support team is that building a successful business is the result of making lots of correct decisions over a long period. A good Business Mentor brings wisdom and experience and can also help you to coordinate all of the other experts you’ll need. 

The Business Mentor may or may not be a paid service. If you know someone experienced and successful in business, they may be happy to help you. Your Business Mentor maybe someone to bounce your ideas off, who may be able to see risks or opportunities that you can’t see. While some of the other roles may not be required in every situation, we believe every business owner should have a Business Mentor. 

Geoff’s personal experience of how a business mentor helped him grow.

I was fortunate to have had a couple of Business Mentors over my business career, and I can certainly attest to their value. Knowing you’ve got someone who’s been there before and understands what you’re going through is so important. I found that just taking the time to chat with my Mentor was beneficial. I just found it therapeutic to share my thoughts with someone who got it.

A Mentor can help to coordinate other experts that you might work with to get the best overview.

For example, when you go to your Accountant, or a Lawyer or a social media guru or your Business Coach, you tend to do that in isolation. The lawyer won’t know what you’re working on with your Accountant, who in turn may have no understanding of what you’re trying to achieve with your digital marketing strategy. 

Should You Pay  A Mentor? is a good read.

Having an experienced person who can pull all of that other specialised advice together is extremely valuable.  

Fragmented advice confuses the poor business owner! Conflicting or confusing information slows you down when you need to going fast.

A mentoring relationship often grows over time to be very deep and built on mutual trust. It is quite a different sort of relationship than you tend to have with any of the other professions you’ll engage with throughout your business journey.

#2 Accountant. 

An accountant is a key member of your support team. Getting the best results from your Tax return is an essential part of what accountants do but they can also add value if you decide to start or acquire a business.

So, if you are starting something off from scratch, a good Accountant can help you with 

  1. Ensuring you comply with any financial and tax regulations 
  2. Choosing the best business structure, such as a sole trader, partnership, company, trust etc.
  3. Setting up your books or accounting software
  4. Perhaps some guidance around pricing goods or services

If you are buying a business, your Accountant will help with a process called ‘due diligence’ whereby they forensically examine the numbers that the seller has provided. It’s a vitally important task a suitably qualified Accountant should do for you.   

Some firms go beyond traditional accounting services. They might offer everything from bookkeeping through to producing business plans, advising on strategy, identifying and measuring metrics within your business and exit strategies.

While there are certainly plenty of Accountants that can provide these services to a high level, our experience has taught us that certainly not all of them can.

In fact, and my Accountant friends will hate me for saying this, but “one thing that most businesses that have ever failed have had in common is they all had an Accountant!”      

That’s not a slight against all Accountants – as there are plenty who are excellent. But many lack the experience of working on the inside of businesses. Many who offer business advice have only ever run an accounting firm.

They often can pinpoint issues in a business through the numbers but may lack experience in fixing the problems.

Another issue is that financial accounts, by definition, are historical. Looking at last years tax accounts to predict the future is a bit like driving and looking in the rear-view mirror.

Often, depending on the size of the accounting firm, you may not be working with the principal. Instead, you may be allocated one of the staff Accountants who may only be new to the industry and lacking in real-world experience.

If you are buying a business we have a sub-series of episodes that might help you select your support team to select and buy.

Accountants are a vital player on your support team.

#3 Lawyer.

Your support team  needs to include access to legal advice at the start of your journey which is crucial to avoid any mistakes that can have a legal impact on you later.

Much like the Accounting profession, the legal industry is changing at a rapid rate. There are now a lot more options than there used to be with online practices springing up across the globe in ever-growing numbers.

A lawyer will be vital in helping you with the following things.

  1. Understanding the best legal structure for your business
  2. Navigating the many laws and regulations that govern everything from employing people to health and safety, to local bylaws covering food safety and a myriad of other rules too numerous to mention here.
  3. Leasing a property – this is a big one and where both of us have seen some absolute horror stories 
  4. Understanding any contracts, you might need in place.

This list is just a few examples of how your lawyer can help.

There are now ways to access legal advice beyond walking into the local Lawyers office. However, that can still work as well.

The most important thing when selecting a lawyer for your support team is to choose one that has the experience, firstly in working with small business and the industry your in. There is a high degree of speciality in the legal profession these days and not every lawyer has the necessary expertise in every area. For example, there are specialist franchise lawyers.

In your search, you can start by contacting the law society in your country or state. Remember that you’ll likely have to comply with a range of local, state and federal laws depending on what country you’re in.

A lot of online services are springing up that can offer a more cost-effective service by providing contract templates, etc. These can also be worth a look.

Protecting yourself, your idea and your business as much as possible from the start, is where specialist lawyers or attorneys can be extremely valuable.

Such things like obtaining trademarks, copyright and patents that can help you if someone copies your intellectual property. It doesn’t take much digging online to find some horror stories about IP theft, so it’s well worth doing.

One last item often overlooked is protecting yourself from legal trouble relating to the use of your website. 

Having the terms and conditions as well as a privacy policy on your site created by a Lawyer experienced in the online world is critical.

# 4 Business Coach.

A Business Coach is more instructional on implementing your plans and maybe industry-specific. A Business Mentor may be more about wisdom and experience across different industries.

Now, this is a bit of a controversial choice for our list. Some people swear by their Business Coach who becomes a long term member of the support team. Others view a Business Coach as a snake-oil salesperson who takes your money but offers no real value.   

There are good and bad in every profession, so it is unfair to label all Business Coaches as being a waste of money.

So, let’s forget about the bad reputation stuff for a moment and concentrate on why we believe finding the right Business Coach for you is important. Firstly, there is a lot to master in running a business. Especially a business capable of delivering the kind of lifestyle that inspires many people to start a business in the first place. A good Business Coach will help you to start your business in such a way that doesn’t lock you into working yourself into an early grave.

I’ve often heard Coaches use the analogy of sport-people still having a coach even when they are at the top of their sport. That, of course, is true. Roger Federer has a coach, and the Golden State Warriors have a Coach. Tiger Woods has had plenty of Coaches over the years.

Even at that level, a good Coach will be able to detect areas where the athlete in question could improve when the athlete can’t see it.

These are some of the areas where a Business Coach can help by:

  1. Taking time to get a thorough understanding of your vision for your business and your life.
  2. Choosing the best strategy to achieve your vision
  3. Putting together a Business Plan
  4. Setting realistic goals
  5. Holding you and your team accountable for the implementation of the plan
  6. Suggesting ways around common business management problems
  7. Many business coaches will also be well versed in marketing and sales  

The most important element of the coaching relationship, though is that you need to be prepared to submit to the process. Once you’ve determined that the Coach you’ve chosen is a good fit for you, you need to do the work. 

What is the key to working with a good business coach?

I’ve met business owners who have complained that they got nothing out of their work with a Coach. Still, when I’ve dug a little deeper, it has become apparent that they simply weren’t prepared to do the work.    

Why you might be better avoiding industry specialist business coaches on your support team.

The answer to that depends upon where you are in your journey. A general Business coach should have experience across a large number of industries. They can bring experience or knowledge gained elsewhere into your business that can make a substantial difference.

A specialist coach can be valuable from the perspective of a deep understanding of what it takes to be successful in your niche. A problem with those folks might be that, unless you are their only client, they may also be advising your competitors.

Industry-specific coaches may have good operational ideas about best industry practice.

However, if your goal is to build a valuable business, maybe choose someone with broad industry experience. They will not encourage you to think like everybody else in your industry.

#5 Family/Friends.

This choice is for emotional support which is every bit important than the other types of support we’ve listed, if not more so.

Everyone’s situation is different, but if you do have loved ones close to you, it can be a great idea to get them on your support team. It’s not always easy to do. You might see an amazing opportunity ahead of you that is the realisation of a life-long dream. However, your partner, kids or parents might not see it the same way.

Partners or spouses can be challenging to win over at times, especially if you’re going to need to make a financial investment into a Business, or perhaps borrow money. Notably, of course, when your partner isn’t as convinced of success as you are.

All you can do in situations like this is to calmly and rationally listen to their concerns, ask for their support and try to arrive at a middle ground somewhere.

Of course, we’ve heard the argument that you should push on regardless of how the people closest to you feel about it. While there is a certain amount of truth to that, it can also provide for a huge increase in stress at a time when that’s the last thing you’re going to need.

If family support is a real roadblock for you, perhaps some counselling around that could be a wise investment.  

#6 Marketing Expert.

You can have the most fabulous Business idea of all time. Still, without a well-executed marketing program, it’s likely to remain just that – an idea that goes nowhere. A marketing expert on your business support team can make a huge difference.

Here is an illuminating episode – 5 Golden Rules : How to Talk To Customers

But marketing must be considered as part of a business plan and strategy. One of my favourite sayings is “Great marketing will kill a poor business”. Great marketing that brings customers in droves, but if you can’t service those customers properly, it can mean the end of the business. 

This is whether you choose to pursue:

  • traditional marketing methods like magazine advertising, 
  • mailouts 
  • radio ads 
  • digital marketing 
  • writing blogs 
  • Facebook advertising  
  • Google Adwords

One question you might have is do I need a website?

A good marketer will help you to identify the target market you’re best placed to serve and the various methods they can use to access that market. A good marketer will also be transparent about the results you can expect, and how long results should take.

As with all other forms of support, do your homework when selecting the right person or team for you. Research their success, seek out testimonials and make sure you’re comfortable with their methods.

Now, of course, depending on the type of business you re thinking of building or buying, you may not need everyone at the same time or even regularly. There may be a range of others as well that we haven’t covered here.   

Avoid trying to do everything yourself and build your support team.

Building a successful business requires a lot of correct decisions and hard work. You can’t do it all, to a high level, yourself without paying the price elsewhere. It will cost you precious time or you may get critical things wrong. So think about who you’ll get on your support team as you work your way through deciding whether or not to get to help.

If you identified other gaps in your Knowledge and Skills, then consider how you will plug that gap. Remember ignoring a critical business function or trying to do everything yourself may cause you problems.

Summary List of 6 roles in your business support team

  1. Business Mentor
  2. Accountant
  3. Lawyer
  4. Business Coach
  5. Family/Friends
  6. Marketing Expert

Next Episode

In our next episode, we feature an interview with the co-owner of a unique health and fitness business. If you are thinking of owning a business in health and wellness, find out what it’s like in this “must-listen” episode.

Disclaimer

The information contained in this podcast is general and does not take into account your situation. The content does not constitute legal or financial advice and should not be used as such. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where applicable, seek professional advice from a financial adviser or lawyer in your jurisdiction. To find out more, please go to www.ShouldIOwnABusiness.com.