Even the smallest and newest business needs help from at least two kinds of specialists: an attorney and an accountant. Depending on your type of business and your skills you may need the advice of other professionals such as an insurance agent, computer specialist or public relations experts. There are several guidelines you should follow no matter what kind of expert you are dealing with.
Always interview professionals to make sure you feel comfortable with them. Since you will be exposing various aspects of your business, you may want to check out their references before deciding on a particular person. Also make sure to check out the fees that you will be paying ahead of time so you won't be surprised when you receive their bill.
Be honest about your business situation. If you are seeking advice on investments or legal matters, you will only be hurting yourself in the long run if you are not completely honest. Professionals need complete information in order to give you the proper advice based on your particular situation and needs.
Always pay your professionals on time and be prompt in keeping your appointments with them. Remember that your professionalism is also being considered by the professional you are working with.
Your Lawyer can help you with many stages of business from the initial setup to handling more difficult aspects of your business. A lawyer can help you decide which business entity you would benefit the most from such as sole proprietorship, partnerships or a corporation. He or she can help you with zoning, licensing, contracts, patents, trademarks, copyrights and other legal problems or questions. Since there is always a possibility of a lawsuit, you will also want to have someone who is familiar with your business before any legal crisis may occur. You should also consider when choosing a lawyer, what their specialty is so they will be the most beneficial to you should a situation arise.
When choosing a lawyer, it is always best to go with someone who comes highly recommended as well as for the fees they charge. You might find an attorney who charges $75 an hour, only to learn that he has little experience in business ventures and may not be the best choice for representing you and your business. Should you decide to hire an attorney on retainer, always have a written agreement as to what you expect and what is expected of you in your working relationship. You will also need to agree on a high spending limit so that if additional work is required beyond what you intend on spending for fees, the attorney should call you before proceeding so you won't be shocked by unauthorized fees on your bill.
Your accountant is a very important part of your business. As with the attorney referral, you will also want a referral for an accountant. He or she will have access to all of your business information and you should be able to trust that this information will remain confidential. Discuss fees in advance and have your attorney write up an agreement about how you will work together.
Decide in advance whether the accountant will handle all matters of your financial workings, such as all data entry and tax computations, or if he or she will simply be double checking your own work. I have found it most beneficial and financially “doable" to have the accountant go over my records at the end of each year when the annual tax returns are filed. Many, prefer to have an accountant involved in the quarterly tax returns or even in the day to day recording of accounts payable and receivable.
Making the right choices as to the professionals that will be involved in your business is important. Remember, they work for you so you'll want to interview each one thoroughly and make sure you feel that you can trust them completely with your business matters.
Kim Haas is a WAHM and Founder of Womans-Net.com, a popular online networking community focusing on working from home and women in business and owner of http://Article-Host.com. To learn more about Kim, visit http://kimberlyhaas.com
Copyright 2005 Kim Haas