Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or a small business owner with an employee or two or ten, you are working with at least a couple of outside business professionals in your business. None of us do it completely alone.
The most common professional would be your insurance broker, second would be your tax preparer. Many solo entrepreneurs and small business owners also work with bookkeepers, payroll providers, attorneys, etc.
Now the question is, are they team members or just service providers? What’s the difference you may ask? Well, I would describe team members as actively helping you grow your business through advice, counsel, and regular communication. Service providers come in do what they do and leave. You may only want service providers, and that’s ok, there is nothing wrong with that. But, if you want a team, and aren’t sure if you have one, here are some questions to ask yourself to evaluate those professionals.
When was the last time your insurance broker called to see what was new? Did they shop your policies at renewal time for the best pricing? Did they ask for updates before renewing the policy? Or, did you just get a renewal notice in the mail with a new premium?
Does your tax preparer work with you throughout the year? Do they answer your questions when you reach out? Do they encourage you to talk to them about large purchases or changes to your business BEFORE you make them so that you can realize the best possible tax benefits & breaks? Or, do you see them once year in March or April, and that’s it?
Is your bookkeeper only a data entry whiz, or do they talk about what is going on in your business? Do they consult with your tax preparer? Do they talk about upcoming changes in software and whether they make sense for you or not? Do they answer your questions when you reach out? Do they encourage you to talk to them about larger purchases or changes to your business BEFORE you make them so you can leverage your cash flow?
Do you have an attorney? Have they reviewed your contracts, both the ones for your customers/clients and those you are entering into with vendors?
If you want a team, and currently don’t have one, then you need to have some potentially uncomfortable conversations. Ask your current providers if they can get more involved, if they want to be on your team. If they do GREAT! You can move forward. If they don’t, or can’t, or feel like they already are and you disagree…then go find the ones who will. Remember it is YOUR business, you should only be working with people who share your vision, your values, and who want to help you and your business.