One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when starting a business is finding the right team. The old saying is true that ‘good help is hard to find’, but that shouldn’t stop you from accomplishing great things with what you have.
But even when you have a good internal team, you still need a superb external one. You need a squad of highly-skilled professionals around you that can provide round the clock support, always willing to go the extra mile and will never charge you a dime.
This rock-solid, ever-dependable group can only be found amongst your friends. Having these people will guarantee success 100% of the time. If you don’t have these people in your lives now, it is time to make some new friends.
I know asking grown-ups to make friends might seem a bit weird, but the right friend with the right skills can help make or break your business.
Choosing the right team to support your business
Not much is said about friends in the context of business, as we tend to emphasise having ‘connections’ and ‘growing our networks’ instead. While building your network is important (and easy thanks to LinkedIn), there needs to be a conscious effort to turn some of these contacts into friends.
Just because they are on your ‘friends list’ doesn’t mean they are actually your friends. And besides, that isn’t the level of friendship we are talking about here.
The friends you need as a business owner are those that will drop whatever they are doing at a moment’s notice to help you reach your next level of greatness; people that will always have your back and would be willing to even pay for you to get ahead.
I’m guessing your list of 5,000 connections just shrunk to like 2, including your mum.
If you don’t have enough professionals in your lives that are die-hard friends, then it is time you made some.
While you are on the lookout for new buddies, there are five professionals you should seek out and/or develop the relationship you currently have.
As you grow your friendship it is okay to let them know that you need their help. But more importantly, you should also be the type of friend they need and want and be ready to do for them what you expect from them. You should also be a high-class professional that can help them lead more successful lives.
If you only care about yourself and are not willing to go the extra mile for others, don’t expect them to do the same for you.
So, are you ready to make some new friends? Here we go.
5 Friends every business owner needs to help their business succeed
First things first. If you don’t know a good accountant, you need to find one right away. Financial crimes are more common than capital crimes and some of the sentences are a lot tougher. Just ask Bernie – he’s to serve 150 years in prison. Ouch!
The role of an accountant friend is to help you cross-check what your in-house accountant is doing for three main reasons:
- To make sure the rules and regulations are being followed, so you don’t go to jail
- To ensure your taxes are paid on time and correctly, so you don’t lose your business or go to jail (again)
- To make sure your accountant isn’t stealing your money. Silver lining – it’s the accountant that goes to jail in this scenario, but you’d be broke
The second point pretty much falls under the first, but it deserves special mention because that is what the government is most interested in.
As for the third, you’re probably thinking: “But Jimmy is like family, I trust him with my life.”
No matter how much you trust your staff, you have to protect yourself. Have you seen the movie The Accountant? Freaked me out! Awesome movie though.
As for real life examples, just ask all the celebrities that have gone bankrupt or ended up in jail for tax-fraud. Who have they all blamed? Their accountants.
No matter how confident you are with your staff, it helps to have a friend check your books once in a while. Even if your accountant is honest, there could still be errors and tax agencies don’t care.
The alternative to having a professional friend check your books is to have an accounting firm perform an audit. Depending on where you live and the size of your business, this might not be mandatory, so most people don’t do it.
Auditors are quite expensive, and they charge by the hour. But you know who will do a great job and doesn’t charge? You guessed it.
People don’t like lawyers. Even though they uphold the law, people don’t trust them because we say things like ‘lawyers are liars’.
But as you know, stereotypes can be dangerous and this one in particular, can cost you a ton.
The truth is a corporate lawyer is the best friend you can have when starting a company. You need a lawyer to help you register a business, draw up contracts and help keep your business on the right side of the law.
And that’s just the beginning of their influence.
Due to the varied clients they have, lawyers tend to be knowledgeable about different fields and have really good connections. You can also count on them when you need a patent, have copyright issues or when making deals with clients, suppliers or when renting office space.
If you haven’t been signing contracts because you are building your business on ‘trust’, you, my friend, could end up in debt or in jail. Recurring theme alert.
A good lawyer will protect you from bad deals, bad people and bad judgment. Now that is a friend you don’t want to be without.
Everyone needs a good doctor friend, especially business owners, because our job is very stressful. Dealing with your own clients and employees is a lot more demanding and frustrating than when you were employed to handle the same tasks.
Depending on the size of your business and your personality, you might end up doing too much by yourself. You could start losing sleep, eating poorly and not spending enough time outdoors. Sound familiar?
While it might look like these ‘sacrifices’ are making you more productive, they are actually compromising your long-term efficiency. You need someone telling you how to handle your health – someone you will actually listen to, unlike your spouse. Mhmm.
The other reason you need a Dr pal is to offer advice when planning health benefits and workplace related medical necessities.
Medical liabilities are a growing concern for many businesses and you need to get ahead by having a doctor keep you on the right side of the law. If your staff are spending too much time sitting down or in front of a screen, you need to assess the health risks and make adjustments accordingly.
Umm, haven’t we done this already? No, that was an accountant.
Why would you need an accountant and a financial planner? Glad you asked! An accountant is not the same as a financial planner or an investment manager. They have two very different roles.
It’s like the difference between a race jockey and a disc jockey. Something in the name sounds similar, but they are very distinct.
Now, you might know an accountant who is also a financial planner, but don’t assume one can do the other’s job.
The role of an accountant is to manage the flow of money. They check what comes in against what goes out and they give an ‘account’ of your finances.
A financial planner on the other hand, shows you how to invest your money. A financial planner/investment manager/investment banker wants to invest your money and ensure you retire in your own home, with a steady cheque every month.
These two professionals are certified by two different bodies and are required by law to do two different tasks. The other thing to note is that the accountant’s job is to help your company, while the finance person is to help you.
The way you save, spend and invest is the financial planner’s business. All the accountant can say is if you have paid your taxes or not – for all she cares, you can buy a piece of land on the moon, or spend your money changing your name to Monkey Poops-a-Lot.
A financial planner would help you remain in the black and eventually into the gold.
Here is why this is very important: when you start-off, you might not be making enough money to make ends meet. But if you can learn to save and invest wisely with the little you have, it will begin to grow and yield modest dividends.
The dividends can help you during the dry spells, so your family doesn’t suffer and you won’t have to close down the business. You might also be able to save enough money that you can invest in your business much later, when it’s time to expand.
Personally and professionally, I have leaned on my finance friends more than any other. If you don’t develop good spending and investing habits now, it could cripple you no matter how much you earn.
Think about it: how could Mike Tyson have ended up broke despite earning over $400 million during his boxing career?! Better yet, remember what happened to Dr Strange after his career was ended? Not a real-life example, but it still makes sense.
Earning a lot of money cannot guarantee wealth, but good investment habits will. If you would like to be a millionaire before you retire, your finance friend can help you, even if you don’t earn up to 5 digits a month.
Finally, you need a marketer friend that will help you promote your business and amplify your success. The role of your other friends is to help you run your business the right way, while the marketer will make sure people know what you are doing.
A marketer will help you evaluate your brand, your tactics and your performance against your competitors. They will suggest new and exciting ways to spread the word about your products and/or services.
Ideally, you should know a marketer who is knowledgeable about traditional channels of marketing and digital marketing. This friend can help you look over what your internal or external marketing teams are up to and ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck.
Most businesses fall apart because there isn’t enough demand or enough money. By using a highly skilled digital marketer, you can find the right clients wherever they are in the world, and it costs a lot less than traditional marketing channels.
Hey, don’t I need a mentor for my business?
Almost every other list will tell you the importance of having a mentor and that is true. There is nothing stopping you from having one of these as your mentor.
A mentor does not have to be in your field, though that can also be beneficial. The key thing is they have to be successful and be willing to share their trade secrets with you.
Now that you know the five friends you need, it is time to go out there and find them.
If you think I’ve missed out on any must-have professional friends, drop a line in the comment section and I’ll be glad to kick someone off the list. Just kidding.
Oh, that’s one I forgot – a comedian. And no, I’m not trying to change careers, I’m very content being a content marketer. See what I did there?