Always Prepared: 4 Things Every Business Owner Should Have in His Back Pocket

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Prepare for all situations by having the right resources at hand. Here are the top things every business owner needs access to stay ready.

As a business owner, you can’t always anticipate what’s going to happen.

However, you can prepare for situations and issues ahead of time by knowing what to expect and having access to the right resources. 

Let’s take a look at some of the top things every business owner needs access to at all times.

Related Article: Manager, Coach or Mentor? Different Roles for Different Goals

1.  An Experienced Mentor

It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been in business, the number of degrees you have, or how savvy you are, every small business owner needs an experienced mentor in their corner, including you.

Think of it like a coach-athlete relationship. Even the greatest athletes in the world need coaches. Can you imagine an NFL quarterback taking the field without an offensive coordinator or head coach helping them call plays, identify defenses, and manage the flow of the game?

As good as a quarterback might be at this level, he still needs coaching and guidance.

Well, the same is true for small business owners. You may have reached what you would call your “peak”, but now is not the time to seclude yourself from guidance and leadership.

Here are some specific reasons why an experienced mentor is a must:

  • Accountability. For starters, a mentor provides a sense of accountability. This is something that’s fairly difficult to come by when you’re a business owner. After all, how many employees are going to question or discipline the owner? A mentor can keep you motivated and on track.
  • Solace. “I know that there have been many times in my career where I have had to reach out to my mentors to seek advice to get through a tough time,” writes Matt Roberge, CEO of Salt Lake City Bookkeeping. “Tough times can kill small businesses and mentors play a large role in helping you get through them.”
  • Direction. Finally, a mentor provides small business owners with guidance and direction that’s sometimes difficult to come by without a third-party perspective. While it’s ultimately up to you to stay on track, a mentor can help push you in the right direction.

Having an experienced mentor on your side is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it shows that you’re smart enough to know you can’t succeed on your own.

If there’s one thing you can’t do without as a small business owner, it’s a good mentor who keeps you moving.

Related Article: Guiding Lights: How to Choose the Ideal Mentor

2. A Good Business Lawyer

Protection is everything as a business owner. Since there’s a substantial amount of risk-taking involved in leading and growing a business, you can’t underestimate the importance of having safety nets and guardrails in place.

And unless you have a legal background yourself, this means you need a good business lawyer on your side. Here are some specific reasons why:

  • Advice. The great thing about having a business lawyer on speed dial is that you can ask them questions any time you’re unsure of what to do. A good lawyer will pick up their phone and give you a clear-cut answer. While it won’t always be free, this advice can save you a lot of money and trouble down the road.
  • Review. While your lawyer will spend a lot of time drafting contracts and putting things into motion, they’ll also help you review decisions and fine-tune the details. A lawyer understands how different clauses, words, and intricacies can produce significantly different outcomes.
  • Protection. Finally, a good business lawyer provides protection and peace of mind. If and when you do mess up, your lawyer will come to your rescue. They may not get you off the hook every time, but knowing you have someone on your side is invaluable.

While you may go months without needing a business attorney, there will be moments when you can’t survive without one.

“Developing a healthy relationship with an attorney who understands your business is crucial,” says Nicole DeLeon of Just Great Lawyers. “And while it used to take lots of research and careful analysis to find the right one, the Internet has thankfully streamlined this process.”

In other words, there’s no excuse to avoid hiring an attorney.

3. A Dependable Accountant

In addition to an attorney, you also need a dependable accountant on your side. “As you become more experienced, you'll find that your accountant and attorney will overlap a bit in their services and expertise,” writes Kieth Lowe, co-founder of the Alabama Information Technology Association.

“I've found that mine often work together to achieve what I'm trying to do.” With that being said, an accountant is necessary to maintain a healthy business.

Here are some specific reasons why this is true:

  • Expertise. Quite frankly, you need an accountant because you aren’t an accountant. While this may sound obvious, it’s true. Financial statements, tax documents, balance sheets, and other documents can be extremely confusing. If you don’t have a degree or certification in accounting, you have no business dealing with these things on your own.
  • Complicated tax code. The U.S. tax code is incredibly complicated and difficult to understand. If you fail to pay the correct taxes and follow the right steps, you’ll likely be hit with some pretty steep penalties and fees. In addition to preventing these problems, an accountant can also help you understand which credits and deductions you can take.
  • Financial reporting. Finally, you need an accountant in order to produce accurate reports. Investors and partners require detailed and professional reports at the end of each quarter and year. An accountant can help you generate the financial portion of these documents.

As you can see, an accountant isn’t something you want to do without. Hiring an experienced accountant will keep you out of trouble and allow you to maximize your savings.

Related Article: Payday for Uncle Sam: 5 Tax Tips For Small Business Owners

4. A List of Potential Hires and Replacements

In addition to having a mentor, attorney, and accountant, you also need to keep a list of potential hires and replacements in your back pocket. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s pretty simple. Employees leave all the time.

No matter how wonderful your work culture is and how nice you treat your employees, turnover is a reality. By having a list of potential replacements ready, you can reduce the amount of time it takes to move on.

When developing a list of potential hires, think about people you’ve worked with in the past, individuals you know through mutual connections, and people you’ve met at networking events.

If you’re really serious about your list, try to have lunch or coffee with each individual every few months. You don’t have to tell them that they’re on your “list,” but keeping these relationships strong can help you in the long run.

Be Prepared for the Unexpected

As a business owner, you must be prepared for the unexpected. While it’s impossible to avoid issues, problems, and roadblocks, you can position yourself well to deal with these potential hazards.

Honestly, this is half the battle.

When you have these four resources in your back pocket, you’ll find that you operate with a sense of peace.

You’ll no longer spend your time looking over your shoulder or dreading what’s inside that unopened envelope or email. You can rest assured you’re doing the right things.

Nobody expects you to have all the answers to every question or situation. However, they do expect you to know someone who does have the answers.

Successful business owners make this happen.

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