When To Seek Professional Help - Hiring Experts

You have decided to start your own business and, ever since, you have been faced with a myriad of decisions. You are learning more and more each day but sometimes it feels as if there are simply not enough hours in the day. Does this sound familiar? Remember, becoming a business owner does not mean that you have to earn educational degrees in a variety of new disciplines. There are experts out there, so go ahead and use them.

Required Expert #1 - Legal Help

Before your business enters the start up phase, it's important to find a lawyer to help you set some parameters. An attorney can help you establish what type of business you want to start (for more information, click here). There are several options available, and your choice will determine your tax structure and the amount of control you will have. A lawyer can also help you to incorporate your business if necessary. There are other options for this service as well. For more information, see the Company Corporation. I obtained the forms that I needed for incorporation myself, reviewed them, and took them to my lawyer for some advice. Ultimately, I filed the forms myself and saved some money. Make sure, before you hire a lawyer, that he/she is familiar with your line of work. Nothing is worse than finally making this decision and realizing that your expert is experienced in every field but yours. I learned the hard way. Through a local networking group, an attorney was recommended. After a few meetings, I realized that he had absolutely no knowledge of Internet work. This attorney helped me with basic start up tasks, but I eventually moved away from him and found a lawyer who specialized in technology.

Required Expert #2 - Money Help

An accountant is the next person to find. You will need an accountant to help you set up your book keeping, payroll, and taxes. For me, I went to set up my business checking account at the bank and then immediately identified an accountant. I needed his expertise when putting my financial records together and installing my accounting software. Be sure that the accountant you choose is familiar with the accounting software that you have or ask for his/her advice if you have not yet purchased a software package. Have them physically next to you when this is installed so that you start off on the right page (literally). You will be asked to establish income categories and expense categories based on the nature of your business. Your accountant will assist you in creating this chart of accounts and will make sure that you use the correct lingo.

Optional Expert #3 - Employee Help

We have found that small businesses make a lot of mistakes when it comes to employees. Interviewing problems, employee handbook problems, payroll problems, tax reporting problems, disciplinary problems, and termination problems. An option for small business owners is the PEO Professional Employment Organization - your outsourced HR Department. I have used a PEO for many years and really enjoy the access to professionals to help me with employee questions (both administrative and legal). A PEO will handle your payroll, file your taxes, offer lower rates on health and dental insurance, offer a start to your employee handbook, and much more. To find a PEO in your area, use the National Association of PEO's web site to find one: http://www.napeo.org/find/members.cfm

What Will This Help Cost Me?

There is a lot of expertise out there, but also realize the cost associated with obtaining such help. A good lawyer will charge you between $65 and $150 per hour. An accountant's costs are lower, but still range from $45 to $85 per hour. This rate is often applied to telephone questions and requested information, so be careful! Don't be surprised when you call your lawyer or accountant with a "simple question" and you find out later those 5 minutes were applied to your bill. Discuss this type of situation in advance with the experts you choose. A PEO will charge you a flat rate per employee per payroll - ranging from $35 - $59 on average.

Free Expert Help - SCORE

You may be interested in finding a business consultant to help you with major, and even minor, decisions. You probably have not started a business before and it can often be overwhelming to juggle so many things at one time. I highly recommend the SCORE program, sponsored through the SBA (Small Business Administration). SCORE stands for the Service Corp of Retired Executives. It is a FREE program offered to start up business owners who need guidance. Most SCORE offices will ask you to complete an application and once submitted, they will match you up with a retired professional in your field. He or she will share their experience and help you through the start up and growth phases of your business. SCORE also offers workshops and seminars, which provide wonderful networking opportunities. Check out what SCORE has to offer at www.score.org.

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