Hiring to delegate tasks and to complement your expertise is crucial to running a successful business. In addition to employees, consider hiring other professionals such as an accountant, lawyer, or consultant to get your business humming.
1. Your First Employee
When determining if you should hire your first employee, consider following this simple advice: Hire when you “run out of you.” This phrase means that once you don’t have the time available to take on additional customers, it’s time to hire.
Once you know you’re ready for your first employee, recruit your candidate. First, use word-of-mouth to find a potential candidate—talk to personal connections and post the job on Facebook. If word-of-mouth doesn’t result in a quality candidate, consider using an online platform such as Zip Recruiter. When you submit your job post to Zip Recruiter, it sends your job to over 100 job board websites, saving you time and keeping you organized in your candidate search.
Before officially hiring your first employee, make sure you know your employment laws. One law you need to know is the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA), which ensures employees are paid fairly. You also need to know the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), which requires employers to withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from employees’ wages.
2. Business Partner
A great business partner is someone who complements your skills and experience. Evaluate your own skills, determine what you’re not great at and find someone who can fill the gap.
Experience-wise, look for a partner who has had success in areas where you don’t. For example, if you’re opening an outdoor retail store and you don’t have any experience of managing the operations and employees of a retail-based business, consider finding a partner who has.
Before making a partner official, create a thorough partnership agreement to avoid arguments and possible litigation in the future.
What To Look For In A Business Partner
When deciding on a business partner, look for skills that complement yours. If you’re unsure what your current entrepreneurial skill set is, I recommend reading Entrepreneurial DNA. In the book, you’ll learn about entrepreneur skills that are often personality-based and difficult to change.
For example, some entrepreneurs are more interested in building products and others are more interested in building businesses. This personality preference is why you see some people stick with inventing new products, and others build multiple businesses.
A great example of this dynamic is Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs launching the first Apple computer. Wozniak invented the first Apple computer and wanted to give it away for free to hobbyists —he never wanted to build a business around the computer. Jobs did. Although Jobs didn’t invent the computer, he took what Wozniak created and built a business around it. Wozniak’s and Job’s inherent and complimentary entrepreneurial skills (inventor and builder) helped form the initial Apple company.
Where To Find A Business Partner
You may find a business partner by working together at a company. Another common place folks meet is entrepreneurial groups such as those listed locally on Meetup.com.
A way to discover like-minded entrepreneurs that is growing in popularity is through an online platform. CoFoundersLab is a platform that uses an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to recommend a co-founder, team member, or adviser already signed up on their platform.
Create A Business Partnership Agreement
Before taking on a partner, I highly recommend creating a thorough partnership agreement. This document will help avoid any legal issues between you and a partner in the future. Deciding on what should be in the agreement may be an uncomfortable conversation for new partners, but it will save a lot of headaches down the road.
You’ll need to discuss what to do in situations like what if one partner were to pass away or become physically or mentally unable to work in the business? What if one partner were to reduce the time spent on the business substantially? What will happen to ownership shares in these situations?
3. Certified Public Accountant
A certified public accountant (CPA) is a designation given to accountants after they achieve a certain level of education and experience requirements. Typically, you’ll want to work with a CPA rather than an accountant because they can assist with high-level business and tax decisions.
As a small business owner, you can use a CPA as your part-time chief financial officer (CFO). Ask them how certain business decisions will affect the finances of the business. You can also use a CPA for tax advice and planning.
Prepare yourself to pay around $125 to $300 an hour for a CPA. Price varies depending on the experience of the CPA and the city your business is located.
Where To Find A CPA
You typically will want to find a CPA near your business so that you can meet face to face. During your introduction meeting inquire about their experience working with small businesses.
If you’re meeting with a larger accounting firm, ask who will be working with you and your company—it may not be the individual in the meeting. Also consider that a junior, less experienced CPA may cost less than a senior CPA.
A bookkeeper records the daily financial transactions for a business. Common tasks a bookkeeper may handle include:
- Tracking income and expenses
- Invoicing customers
- Paying vendor bills
- Reconciling bank accounts
- Processing payroll
The main difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant (or CPA) is that an accountant interprets the data collected by the bookkeeper. An accountant will look at financial documents such as the income statement or balance sheet to better understand the financial health of the business.
Some new business owners will do their bookkeeping. Some hate it and will delegate all financial tasks. Others will outsource specific tasks such as payroll and paying vendor bills.
One warning regarding bookkeepers: Don’t let them submit your taxes. It’s a best practice to hire a CPA for this task. If the IRS ever audits your company, the CPA can be your representation.
Where To Find A Bookkeeper
If you’re hiring an accounting firm to assist with higher-level financial decisions, they typically will have bookkeeping services available. If you’re not working with an accounting firm, consider hiring a virtual bookkeeper, which starts at around $126 per month.
5. Business Attorney
A business attorney will help in all legal aspects of your small business:
- Forming the legal entity
- Drafting agreements
- Reviewing contracts
- Submitting intellectual property (patents)
- Labor law compliance
Consider developing a relationship with a business attorney before any serious legal matters happen in the business. You don’t want to rush around looking for an attorney after your business gets hit with a lawsuit—do it now while you have the time to shop around.
Where To Find A Business Attorney
If you have the funds available, it’s wise to develop a relationship with a local business attorney. Expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $350 for a local attorney.
Another option for a new business on a budget is using an online legal service that provides attorney advice. Your first 30-minute consultation with a business attorney at Rocket Lawyer is $59. If you need ongoing legal advice, you can become a member for $39.99 per month and have unlimited legal questions answered.
6. No-Cost Business Adviser
There are several no-cost, government-funded resources that all small business owners should know about. These programs are no-cost because they receive funding from federal, state, and local governments. Your relationship with these resources may be ongoing, or when you need specific assistance such as obtaining a disaster loan.
The SBDC (Small Business Development Center) provides no-cost consulting to business owners. They have over 5,000 consultants in over 1,000 locations across the US. Many of these consultants have specialized knowledge such as financial, legal, human resources, or marketing.
I recommend at a minimum, visiting your local SBDC’s website to learn more about the expertise of your local consultants. If you’d like to talk with one of the consultants, call to make an appointment. You never know when you may need one of the consultants’ advice and guidance. SBDC’s also provide training. Many often teach in-person how to start your own business.
SCORE (Service Corps Of Retired Executives) is similar to the SBDC, except their advisers are volunteer-based. Typically, a SCORE adviser has hands-on experience as a small business owner or working with small businesses.
I recommend reaching out to your local SCORE chapter to see if an adviser has experience in your industry or type of business. They can be a great mentor for your business—all for no-cost.
Women’s Business Centers
Women’s Business Centers are a program supported by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide training and resources to businesses owned by women. The type and availability of assistance depends on your local center. There are over 140 centers across the country.
Procurement Technical Assistance Centers
PTACs (Procurement Technical Assistance Centers) provide no-cost advisers that help companies do business with the federal, state, or local government. The US government is the largest purchaser of goods and services in the country.
There may be an opportunity to do business with the government, especially new businesses that are 8(a) certified. What is 8(a)? It’s a designation given by the government to businesses owned by minorities, economically disadvantaged individuals (net worth under $200k), or socially disadvantaged individuals (physical handicap). The federal government and many state governments are required to spend 5% of their budget with 8(a) certified businesses.
7. Professional Consultant
Similar to hiring a business attorney for a short period of time, you may find that you need the help of a professional consultant.
Types of consultants that work with small businesses includes:
- Branding & Marketing
- Software and Information Technology (IT)
- Human resources & payroll
- Business & feasibility plan writer
- Construction & interior design
- Restaurant planning
- Exit planning
Where To Find A Professional Consultant
You’ll want to first search locally for the consultant you need. However, depending on your needs, you may need to search nationally.
For example, if you operate a restaurant, you may need a branding consultant to help you design an attractive menu. As an affordable alternative, you could use an online platform such as Upwork to find a consultant who can assist with an overall marketing strategy.
8. Business Coach
Unlike a consultant, a business coach works with you to develop soft skills such as leadership, strategy, decision making, and sticking to commitments. Meeting with a business coach is typically an ongoing commitment. Meet with a coach in one-on-one sessions, or save money by meeting with a group of business owners facilitated by a coach.
Where To Find A Business Coach?
You’ll want to first look locally for a business coach. It’s smart to develop this relationship in person because it may be kept up for many years. However, with better and more affordable video technologies in recent years, a virtual coach is a great option as well.
For example, the coaching service EMyth (which is based on the book E-Myth Revisited) specifically helps small business owners create a well-functioning business. If you find that you’re a business owner, who is, what we discussed earlier, “running out of you,” you may be interested in this type of coaching.
Running a business doesn’t have to be a headache when you hire and work with the right people. Too many business owners try to do everything themselves. Learning how to delegate is a vital part of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers and let experts help you.