How to assemble your strategic team

Mark Lankford, Associate Director of Butler County SBDC based at The Hamilton Mill, City of Middletown and Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.
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Mark Lankford, Associate Director of Butler County SBDC based at The Hamilton Mill, City of Middletown and Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

This month’s question comes from a client who is building a business plan and using an outline I supply for that purpose: “I see where I need to specify the positions and identities of my strategic team. Exactly what is that, and how do I go about assembling one?”

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Assembling a quality strategic team can mean the difference between business success and failure. Basically, a business owner’s strategic team will consist of highly skilled professionals in key areas of business that the average entrepreneur is unable to handle himself. Most all owners need help in these specialized areas: banking/financing, insurance, accounting/bookkeeping and legal.

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Leading off for your strategic team is your banker. You are probably thinking this is an easy one, just go with whoever is closest or more familiar, correct? Not necessarily. There are considerable differences in banks when it comes to commercial account options and lending strategies. For example, not all minimum balance plans are the same. Also, some banks won’t even consider lending your business money in your first couple of years in business. It is very important to interview your bankers and see how good of a “fit” they are with your needs.

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It is very important that you consult with your business insurance agent and obtain the proper and necessary coverage for your business. Never operate a business without liability insurance. Some people overlook specialized coverage such as “errors and omissions” and malpractice coverage — necessary for even the simplest medical-related businesses. Don’t always assume the cheapest policy quote is the best. Don’t make other assumptions such as your regular car insurance being in effect when driving your car during a business delivery.

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Being able to handle your accounting software in no way qualifies you as a tax expert. Proper use of Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures (GAAP) is a must with the IRS. Missteps can lead to penalties, interest, fines and even prison. Always choose a reputable tax expert who can monitor your bookkeeping. Most all CPAs are well-versed in compliance. Dig deep and find one who is also consultative — helping you to legally avoid paying unnecessary taxes.

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Nobody wants to have to pay an attorney, but businesses will always have the need for one from time to time. Collections, government interaction and forms/agreement reviews are just some of the reasons you will need one. Know who you will call when the need arises. Be sure your attorney is a strong advocate, and fully supports your interests honestly and professionally.

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HAVE A QUESTION?

This monthly column aims to help small-business owners navigate the resources available to them. Have a question about starting or managing a business? Email questions to laura@hamilton-ohio.com for possible inclusion in an upcoming column.