Business Advisers! Who Are They and How to Choose Them Effectively?

 


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The high failure rate of small businesses proves many business owners do not have what it takes to run a business effectively. The common attitude towards seeking advice that it is too expensive. However, a few dollars spent each year can save you thousands of dollars later on as it is extremely important to choose your advisers carefully.

So, who are these advisers?

1. Your accountant: A good accountant can provide advice and assistance in all aspects of financial management, sources of finance and applying for finance.

A good accountant is not only for tax purposes. It is someone who can and will steer your business the right way. They will know your business’ strengths and weaknesses and can determine any potential financial problems or any potential opportunities. They will work with you closely to monitor your success and show you how to avoid mistakes and work on achieving your targets the right way.

Your accountant is one of the few people whose job it is to be aware of your business finances. They can predict success and failure based on the ups and downs of your business figures.

Good communication with your accountant is extremely important. Plan to have a meeting at least once a month (regardless of the cost) just to discuss your business progress. Once again, if your accountant is not willing to share this information, then look for someone else.

Not all accountants do the same type of work. Most accountants have a specialty. You need to find the right accountant to suit your business needs.

Ask for recommendations, keeping in mind that your accountant must be qualified. I can’t stress enough how important a good accountant is for your business. Even before you start your business get a professional accountant to help you.

Some tips to consider when choosing your accountant:

  • Fit for purpose: Consider your needs.

  • Qualifications: Verify claimed qualifications.

  • Experience: Investigate their expertise with your industry or business type.

  • Communications: How well does this person communicate with you? Do they listen?

  • Word of mouth: Ask other small business owners about how they found their accountant.

  • Accessibility: If you need advice fast, will they respond? Are you better off with a smaller firm to whom your business is really important or does a larger firm have better resources?

  • Write on: Get all details such as who in the firm undertakes your work, fees and services offered in writing, so there’s no room for error or misunderstanding. Your accountant should provide an engagement letter setting our agreement including how and when fees are rendered.

  • Listen to instinct. Women do have a higher emotive intelligence and we should acknowledge when we feel uncomfortable about working with someone and act accordingly.

    Who actually does your work is another issue. Many firms have a tier arrangement where costs decrease as you move down from partner to manager or senior to junior accountant.

    You should check as smaller firms will have more partner contact and if you want this with a larger firm then affordability may become an issue.

    2. Your bank manager: Your bank manager can provide valuable advice based, on his or her experiences. Banks deal with small businesses every day.

    During the early stages of business plan development, your bank manager can often help you by pointing out the potential pitfalls.

    Check the different business accounts available with various banks or credit unions. Choose a bank that is suitable for your type of business and that is willing to meet your needs. If the bank is unable to accommodate your financial requirements, your bank manager can probably suggest the best alternative financial institution.

    3. Your solicitor: Proper legal advice in business can save you thousands of dollars. It is a good idea to look for a suitable solicitor before you need one.

    Get referrals from friends and advice from your employer association to locate the best solicitor in a particular field. Any legal agreement your business has or is considering undertaking should be examined by your solicitor, to ensure your best interests are being protected.

    When choosing your advisers, don’t base your decision on friendship, family or convenience.

    Shop around, talk to other business owners and get recommendations. Find advisers who are: empathic and caring, trustworthy, experienced, well qualified, and prepared to understand the needs of your business.

    Good advisers bring objectivity to your business. Sometimes they may recognize the early warning signs that you might have missed because you are too involved in your business. They look at your business from outside the box and can see things from a different viewpoint.

    WARNING: If you are not happy with your advisers. . . DON’T BE AFRAID TO CHANGE THEM… Your business comes first.

    By Lama Kalla. Copyright 2005

    Lama Kalla -Business owner, mentor and author of “women in small business - Setting your business right the first time" e-book which is dedicated exclusivley to every woman eager to succeed in small business TODAY!!! http://www.womeninsmallbusiness.com

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