If this past Super Bowl has taught us anything, it is that with the right team, anything is possible. The same is true in the business world and so one of the first questions I will ask a new business client is: who is on your team? The most common response I receive is something like “I am just a small business” or “it is just me”. Although I understand what you mean (certainly you run the day to day operations), I encourage my clients to think a little broader and to work at building a support network that will allow them to grow and protect their business in the long-term.
Some of the key players on your business team may include:
- An accountant/tax professional
- A financial advisor
- An insurance professional
- A marketing/public relations person
- An IT/technology person
- And … ahem … a legal professional
Try to be on a first name basis with someone from each category so you are able to call them in an emergency. Make a point to meet with them regularly so they can help you identify potential problems before they happen as well as future opportunities. Starting this relationship is as simple as scheduling an initial consult or inviting them to coffee or lunch. If the professional you are contacting is business minded, they will likely be just as happy to expand their own network by meeting you.
My general role as the lawyer on your team is to accomplish two tasks. One is to help you seek out opportunities to grow your business and to provide you with the legal framework and tools to do so. The second is to help you identify risks that can derail your business and to assist you in avoiding or otherwise managing those risks. From working with your accountant to restructure your business for tax efficiencies, to working with your marketing person to ensure you email marketing complies with anti-spam legislation, to conversations about insurance needs within your business; I work with you and your team to accomplish these goals.
You can continue trying to reactively find the person you need every time you run into problems or you can be proactive. Start building and leveraging your team today so you can avoid issues before they occur and leverage your team to help you identify opportunities you might have otherwise overlooked.
By Matthew MacGillivray, B.Sc., J.D.
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