There is a common (mis)perception of the entrepreneur as a lone wolf. Many people think that the classic entrepreneur is someone who comes up with a genius idea and then executes it on his or her own.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
The best entrepreneurs know that great businesses come from having great teammates. Consider these two quotes, from two of the best entrepreneurs:
Richard Branson: “I learnt from an early age the need [for] other team members as there is just too much for one person to do themselves. [And] what is the point of hiring talented team members if you don't give them the freedom to make the most of the chance you have given them?”
Steve Jobs: “I have learned over the years that you [need] really good people and you do not have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things.”
This is as true for your small business as it is for those big businesses. If you want to succeed and grow, you too will need a variety of teammates who have the skills necessary to help you get ahead.
Here are the six teammates that I consider essential:
1. Banker: You well know by now that it takes money to make money. What you may not know is that there is a professional out there whose job is to help you get the money you need. That person is your banker. A good banker is your money professional.
He or she can help you analyze your business and help you prepare a loan package that can get approved. Indeed, working with your local banker early in the lending process is your best bet for getting a yes. (And by the way, my friends here at Bank of America have hired more than 1,000 small business bankers over the past few years.)
2. Accountant or Bookkeeper: Although often used interchangeably, these two professionals actually do different things (that sometimes overlap). A bookkeeper’s role is as it sounds – someone who keeps the books, issues invoices, keeps tracks of accounts payable, handles payroll and so on. An accountant can do many of these things, but typically has more experience than a bookkeeper, and his or her duties tend to be more strategic. For example, an accountant would likely set up a business’ accounting systems.
Depending upon the size of your business, you will need one or the other to help you with the books, taxes, accounts, and so on.
3. Lawyer: Should you form your business as an LLC or an S corporation? Should you sue or settle? Did your competitor’s ad libel your business? Only a smart lawyer can answer these sorts of questions for you, and that is why you need one.
4. Insurance broker: An insurance agent represents one company whereas a broker represents many. Having a good broker on your team will help you get the right coverage and the best deal.
The final two teammates that I suggest you need are not “professionals” per se, but they sure are no less important:
5. A technology expert: In this day and age, you will save yourself untold amounts of time and headaches if you have someone whom you can call who can get your technology squared away.
6. A business assistant: If you don’t have an assistant, you are an assistant.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.
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