When it comes to small business, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Often, small business owners try do it all themselves, until a crisis forces them to get legal advice, seek an accountant for a tax issue, or scramble to find IT help for a hacked network.
Full-on crisis mode is not the best time to try to get the support you need. Decisions made under pressure can be costly and mostly about damage control – which means the damage has already been done.
So in the halcyon early days of your business – or even better, before your business is launched – you should look for the following:
Sound Legal Advice
A good lawyer is a necessity for a business of any size. When setting up your company, your legal team can help you decide on the right structure (a partnership, a sole proprietorship, or a co-operative), as well as assist in leasing commercial space or buying an existing business. False steps here can be costly.
You also might need legal help to draw up business contracts, get equity financing, or deal with sudden emergencies, such as a lawsuit from a disgruntled employee, a dispute with a business partner, or an environmental complaint.
Learn more about legal issues at the Canada Small Business Network.
Someone Good with Numbers
While there’s lots of good accounting software on the market, it can often pay to use the services of a professional accountant. Someone who knows tax laws inside and out can help you avoid an audit, as well as the associated penalties and sanctions. They can also make sure that you get all the deductions you’re entitled to.
Additionally, a good accountant can give you a clear financial picture of your company, which will allow you to make the right business decisions before you get into trouble.
Reliable IT Support
The impact of computers and the internet on business continues to grow. A customer database held hostage by ransomware or a server brought down during the holiday rush can be disastrous for any business.
The right IT support can ensure that your company network is properly set up and backed up, including desktop computers and mobile devices (laptops, cellphones, tablets, etc.). If you have multiple locations, cloud services can get software updates rolled out everywhere at once or have security updates quickly installed to give you the best chance of surviving malware, viruses, and cyber-attacks.
If your business isn’t big enough to hire full-time IT help, there are a lot of managed services that, for a reasonable monthly fee, can offer support, and include 24/7 emergency help.
There are consultants that can help small businesses handle other facets of operations smoothly and cost-effectively. For example, a human resources service can not only recruit the best full-time and contract help, it can help with new-hire orientation, disciplinary issues and terminations, and increasing employee retention while lowering turnover costs.
A marketing consultant or agency can help you establish an inbound/outbound sales and promotion strategy based on your business goals, target users, and find out what the competition is up to. Social media campaigns, e-commerce websites, content marketing, traditional advertising and more can be part of the mix.
If you get the right support early, you’ll be able to weather just about any crisis as your small business grows and develops.
Peter Giffen | Contributing Writer