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Building your team of Trusted Advisors

The old sports cliché of “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’” rings true for small business too. Sure, you may have diligently mapped out your business plan, hired staff and developed your processes. You may have hired an accountant, salesperson or even a marketing guru.

But just like it’s hard to rely on a single superstar to lead your team to the championship, you shouldn’t expect one advisor to be able to handle every need that comes up in your complex small business life. Assembling a network of professional advisors — which may include tax specialists, accountants, insurance agents, financial advisors, and bankers, along with your own family members — can greatly benefit your holistic plan for the future.

Why assemble a team?

“You’re creating a well-rounded experience,” says Larry, a Small business advisor. “Think of the four pillars — Financing & Accounting, Operations Management, Sales & Marketing and Human Resources. Having a team of professional advisors, including insurance specialists, can help you achieve your goals.”

When should you get started?

As early as possible. “To get everything aligned from the onset makes the most sense,” says Larry. Adds Ken, a SCORE Mentor: “It’s never too early. Your needs are going to look different at different points in time, so maybe it’s a smaller team when you’re younger, and you add more players to the table at the point when you’ve met your own objectives and are starting to think about how to leave a legacy.”

Having a team of professional advisors, can help you build & grow your business and achieve your goals.”

What can you do if your team is not performing?

“It can feel as uncomfortable as a marriage not working — that frustration when things simply are not being completed as quickly or satisfyingly as they used to be,” says Larry of the red flags to look for as your personal network of advisors evolves. When you feel the relationship isn’t working, it’s best to simply interview potential replacements and collaborate with family members and the members of your team that you plan to keep. This process will keep the lines of communication open and help you assemble a new and improved team that better meets your needs.

How do you keep your team on the same page?

“New technology, such as online interactive client videos, can be beneficial. “But clear communication about a holistic strategy begins with in-person meetings at least once or twice a year,” says Larry. “I really like face-to-face meetings and then conference calls. I also like to follow up with emails on which everyone is copied so that we are all aligned.”

Once you’ve assembled that team, it’s important to use it to its best capabilities. If you’re receiving conflicting advice, bring everyone together. Ultimately, it’s your financial future, and your team should be working on your behalf to help make your life easier.