If you run your own successful business, you know that success is something earned. But you also know it’s not only about working harder, but working smarter. When it comes to finances, it’s so easy to get caught up in the weeds with the daily decisions that it can be difficult to step back and see the big picture.
In fact, it can seem that the more success you have, the more frequent and complicated your financial headaches. And if you’re finding yourself in the financial trenches, that means you’re spending valuable time away from where you’re needed most: steering the ship and mapping your business’ future.
At the end of the day, no one can be expected to handle all of the financial dilemmas and roadblocks that come with running a business by themselves. Your business takes a lot of your time and energy, because you’re doing what you love. You deserve to spend the rest of your day on quality time with your family, or unwinding with a meaningful hobby.
I can’t promise you one simple tip or trick to fix your finances overnight; your business is far too important to rely on an easy cheat. What I can do is share the formula that has helped me and my wife, Rebecca, along with dozens of our clients, to take control of our financial lives and still make it home for dinner every night.
It’s simple: Teamwork! The real secret to happy, healthy finances is surrounding yourself with the right people. You need the right players in your court who can mount a great defense, and handle issues effectively before they even arise. Teamwork is the winning formula to peace of mind and saving time, so that you can focus on what’s most important: getting out there and actually running your business.
So who’s on your team?
A financial advisor is there to look at the big picture with you, to listen to your goals and dreams and help you turn them into concrete plans for the future. A good advisor will take the time to truly understand what matters to you and guide your finances to reflect your personal priorities.
A full 30 percent of small business owners don’t have a firm grasp on how much they’ll need to save for retirement, and even out of those who have made the calculations, only 25 percent actually have a formal plan for transferring their business to their successor when the time comes. Even if you do have the long term figured out, it’s almost impossible to manage strategically investing for the near future when you’re already caught up in figuring out how to cut costs, maximize sales, allocate capital, and put out the constant day-to-day fires.
There are three further specializations that you’ll want from your advisor(s).
An Accumulation Pro, or Registered Investment Advisor, will help you do just that: accumulate your wealth. You may have heard the word fiduciary in the news lately — an RIA has a fiduciary responsibility to their clients, meaning they must always act in their clients’ best interests and make suitable investment recommendations.
A Wealth Manager is your financial quarterback, a resource for solid advice that is tailored to your full financial picture. Not only will they curate investments, they’ll also help you to think about some of the trickier aspects of financial health such as philanthropy, capital gains tax planning, and estate planning. Whether you want to educate yourself about the best practices, or simply hand over your finances to someone you trust to hold your best interests to heart, a wealth manager is a key player on any team.
A Protection Specialist is the final player on your financial advising team. A licensed insurance agent with no agenda beyond what is best for you, they will make sure you are protected from everything from lawsuit to illness, or anything else that may risk stopping you from growing your wealth.
Look for an advisor who is able to weave together and personalize every aspect of your financial plan.
Accountant / CPA
Simply put, your accountant has specialized knowledge to help make your money work for you and ensure that you’re operating at peak efficiency inside your business. That means you can rely on your accountant to correctly classify employees and independent contractors, oversee payroll, and estimate your tax payments in advance and submit everything you need to the IRS. They can also help you navigate audits and ensure you’re always in compliance with relevant regulations so that you never have to face that particular financial nightmare.
Perhaps most importantly, your accountant will help you manage your budget and revenue to ensure you stay in business for years and years to come. They’ll catch errors, find specific opportunities for improvement, and make sure your budget is on track for success.
Your business attorney is a key player in your risk management strategy, standing between you and any potential lawsuits or disputes. They’ll be there for everything from questions of zoning compliance to copyright and trademark processes; from formal business incorporation to legal liability.
And remember, the best time to hire an attorney is long before you face a lawsuit. The fee you will pay for a team member who can keep you out of hot water and make sure you are never sued in the first place is a fraction of the cost you could be saddled with if you are brought to court.
Estate planning goes far, far beyond writing your last will and testament. It’s not a “one and done” deal, nor is it something you can afford to leave for later. Your estate attorney will help you navigate living trusts and develop a plan to protect your beneficiaries from estate taxes and creditors alike. Equally important, they can help you prepare power of attorney in the event that you are incapacitated and need someone to manage your affairs. You’ve built a great business — your estate attorney will make sure you leave a great legacy as well.
With a team of experts at your back, you’ll be prepared for the eventualities and risks of running a business. You can’t put a price on peace of mind, but if you could, it would be this: the ability to go home at the end of the day to spend quality time with your family, knowing that your business is strong and protected by a team you trust.
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