By Joshira Maduro, Content Research Analyst with LendingTree in Charlotte, North Carolina
Running a small business is no easy feat. It comes with day-to-day and long-term challenges, headaches and unexpected expenses. That said, a recent survey from email marketing provider Constant Contact found that 84% of small business owners would do it again, despite all the struggles.
But you don’t have to struggle with your business alone. To help share the burden, recruit a team of professionals that can guide you through challenges and steer you clear of common pitfalls as you scale.
Get these pros on your side to take your business to the next level
Certified Public Accountant
A Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, can act as a financial advisor and consultant on a variety of topics, including taxes and accounting. When choosing a CPA, you’ll want to review their qualifications—the IRS’ Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers is a searchable database that helps you find accountants in your area with credentials recognized by the IRS.
Ask your friends, family and NAWBO sisters for referrals. Ideally, you’ll want to enlist the help of a CPA who has clients like you so that they’re familiar with your needs. You’ll also want someone who’s been in the business for a while, because it increases the chances that they’ve seen situations like yours before—and know how to handle them.
Don’t forget to check their availability, as notices from tax authorities can come year-round and hiring someone who’s seasonal could lead to delays. Make sure you understand in advance the fees your CPA will charge, including any rates for more complex situations or extra costs that may apply.
Small business applications were up 69% in April 2021 compared to the year before, and for these new small business owners, having a lawyer on hand can be a crucial component of a smooth launch or effort to scale. They can guide you through the legal process of structuring your business, help you protect intellectual property and deal with copyright issues. They can also assist with writing and reviewing contracts and non-disclosure agreements.
Among other things, lawyers can help you out with matters regarding employee law—the hiring and firing of workers and creating employee policies and handbooks. If you run into any issues with lawsuits or debt collection, you can turn to a lawyer. They can also advise you in the steps necessary to exit your venture.
To find a lawyer for your team, reach out to other women business owners you know through NAWBO or your community and trust for referrals. You can also search the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Directory for local lawyers specializing in business law, or check out the American Bar Association’s online directory.
As a woman business owner, you’re pulled in a hundred different directions at once and it’s easy to neglect planning for your business’s financial future. A financial advisor can assist in keeping tabs on the broader financial picture and help to steer you toward your financial targets.
Among other issues, financial advisors can advise small business owners on strategies to finance their business, investment management, retirement planning, succession planning and keeping a pulse on market trends.
Before working with a financial advisor, you’ll want to ask them, among other questions, about their certifications, what services they offer, what types of clients they often work with and how and when communication will happen. You’ll also want to understand whether or not your advisor is fee-only or fee-based. If a financial advisor is fee-only, that means the only source of income is fees charged to clients. Fee-based advisors, however, may also receive income from commission, meaning they may be incentivized to sell you products or services that might not be a good fit.
Having a good mentor can be crucial to the success of your business. Data cited by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) found that of small businesses who had mentors, 70% of them stayed in business for more than five years—that’s double the rate of businesses without mentors. And considering 20% of businesses fail in their first year, it’s important to connect with a mentor early in your entrepreneurial venture.
Mentors can guide you from their years of experience and help you to avoid common mistakes in areas like financial management, expansion and targeted marketing efforts. There are many places to connect with mentors; look within NAWBO as well as check out your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or SCORE chapter. The Women’s Business Development Center, the NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center and the Office of Veterans Business Development Center are also great resources.
While there are many characteristics to consider when picking a mentor, you want to make sure you find someone who shares your values. Your business is your baby, so picking someone to help you raise it means making sure you’re on the same page about goals, ethics and your company’s mission.
About the Author
Joshira Maduro joined the LendingTree team in April 2020, where she covers credit card news. She utilizes her background in market research and branding to develop insightful pieces on better ways to spend and travel.