Starting Up a Business – The Need for Professional Advice

Starting your own business is an exciting time. You look forward to building something through your own efforts; fulfilling a dream; and being your own boss. For most new business people the initial focus they have is on the product or service they plan to provide; their location; and their marketing plan (including the “look” of their business).
But often what is forgotten is the need for good professional advice. One of the first things any person staring a business should do is get professional advice. Three key areas of advice that are needed in every new business are:

• Legal

• Accounting

• Insurance

In a start-up situation, where money may be tight, it is tempting to avoid spending money on a lawyer, accountant or insurance broker or agent. Often the thinking is to delay spending money on these professionals until the business is turning a decent profit. While this sort of cost saving is tempting, it is also a mistake. Proper professional advice is an investment in the future of any business venture.
Having all three professional advisors in place at the beginning of your business venture has advantages. First, it means that each is familiar with your business right from the start and can help guide it from the beginning. Second, they have an opportunity to work as a team. Often suggestions by one professional will impact what another has to do.
But while the costs of hiring professionals may be of concern, there are ways to reduce those costs. First, talk to them up-front and find out what they charge for their services. Second, see if you can get a “flat fee” quote (as opposed to being billed based on time taken). Third, make sure the professional has relevant experience. This can be very important with respect to law, where lawyers tend to focus on only one or two areas of practice. Dealing with a lawyer who practices in corporate and commercial law will be a lot easier than one who does not (and may have to research issues that a specialist would know about – research you may end up having to pay for).
Finally – self-educate! You do not have to be an expert, but doing some basic research before you talk to professionals is important. For example, before seeking legal advice about incorporation, look into the basics about setting up a company including some of the common questions to be addressed and what the alternatives are. That will help focus your questions and provide clearer instructions, making the lawyer’s job easier and quicker. Certain websites can provide inexpensive education tools that can save you time later when you are dealing with your lawyer.