Four Advisers Every Startup Needs on Speed Dial
Over the years, it has become abundantly clear every successful business owner has 4 professionals acting as their core advisers and kept on their speed dial. The need for each varies, but all have a critical role to play in keeping a business owner focused on the important issues at hand — the business.
Put these advisers on your team:
The reason for having a trusted attorney may or may not be obvious because all business owners have to deal with contracts, employment, customer disputes, etc. One area that has become more important, however, is the protection of your intellectual property.
An intellectual property attorney works with you to protect your business entity’s innovations, rights, product, and services; in addition to settling legal disputes. “Today’s reliance on, and easy access to, software, web content, and other technologies, all of which embody someone’s Intellectual Property, carry risks that may expose businesses and individuals to very costly legal liability for infringement or misappropriation. Obtaining early legal advice on how to reduce these risks, often at a modest cost, may save thousands and sometimes millions of dollars, and prevent financial ruin,” states Stefan R. Stoyanov, Esq.
Working with an intellectual property lawyer may provide you increased commercial value, access to new markets, research in different business areas, and IP law (domestic and international) knowledge you may not have but need as a business.
The Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
The accountant is a vital member of your team, since they keep your business and personal taxes and other reporting requirements in line with the ever changing IRS, State and Local Tax regulations. The more complicated your life gets the more you need a person that can handle the uniqueness of your business.
As a business owner, it is more important to focus on the important issues and operations of your business, than worry about taxes. If you get one of those multi-paged letters from the IRS, it is reassuring to give it to your CPA. They seem to have the ability to reassure you that you are not going to wind up in debtors prison, and they handle the issue. Your CPA may groan, however, when you bring in the shoe box full of receipts or a detail summary of your taxes from your cloud based excel spreadsheet.
The CPA is in charge of the tax landscape since they have the obligation to keep current and understand the accounting nuances of the tax codes and compliance.
Dane E. Dickler, CPA, Partner, Tax & Business Services Leader, NY/NJ Business Enterprise Services group at Marcum LLP summed up the following need for financial advisers: “The accounting and tax compliance landscape has become increasingly more complicated to navigate. That’s why it’s important for business to have a seasoned accounting professional on the team who is knowledgeable and able to identify potential issues and opportunities. Not having a professional with experience and expertise to provide proper guidance will inevitably result in mistakes or missed opportunities — some of which can be very costly and detrimental to the business at large.”
Property & Casualty Insurance Agent
The Property and Casualty (P&C) Insurance professional protects the foundation of your business against potential risks. He/she works with the business entity to protect your business operations by transferring risk of mistakes to an insurance carrier, for a price, called a premium.
The insurance professional will provide the business entity a detail analysis of the insurance need, how to manage the potential risk, and how to best present your exposure to the insurance carriers. The protection includes but is not limited to general liability, product liability, business interruption, fire, flood, storm damage, product defect, theft, and errors or omissions. It is a necessary business expense of doing business.
The business entity must inform the P&C Insurance professional of any updates or changes of the business infrastructure and operations. “Your insurance professional needs to know all updates or moves you are planning to make in order to affectively advise you on how to transfer, retain, or reduce risk as much as possible,” says C. Scott Heaney of Mill Creek Agency, Inc.
The Certified Financial Planner (CFP ®)
The most misunderstood adviser, unless you have one, is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®). The CFP® is not just managing your business investments or planning needs, he/she is the quarterback of your business financial life.
The CFP® helps you plan and keep you on track to achieve your business and personal goals, using debt wisely, building appropriate emergency reserves, covering the “what if’s” of life (key-man insurance, buy-sell agreement, health, accident, disability, LTC), and ensuring your P&C coverage is appropriate and cost effective for your situation and in place. He/she recommends, monitors and evaluates a proper balance given your risk tolerance for investments and makes sure your investment goals are on track to reach your business planning goals and strategy.
The CFP® integrates how your business planning impacts your personal financial planning. Your personal financial planning may include: funding children education, retirement/ financial independence, tax planning, wealth preservation/estate/trust plans. How is the business entity transferring the assets to another entity or family member?
The CFP® will work with the business entity to develop the business succession plan and effectively plan how it may impact your personal financial planning. The estate plan is written by a qualified attorney and monitored by your CFP®. A CFP® is held to a fiduciary responsibility to work only in the best interest of the client which is mandated by the CFP® Board of Standards (cfp.net).
The CFP® role is to ensure your all-star team of advisers are coordinated and working toward your business planning goals and objectives that keep your business and personal financial planning lives on tract while you focus on the important tasks at hand — your business.
Because life happens, live for today and plan for tomorrow.
Peter J. Creedon, CFP®, ChFC, CLU went from working in corporate America to becoming an entrepreneur and business owner in 2013. He is founder and CEO of Crystal Brook Advisors, a NY Registered Investment Advisory firm, focusing on helping young professionals and business owners in reaching their financial goals.
This piece originally appeared on MillennialMagazine.com.