A structured finance team is one of the last things that a business startup thinks about; the same holds true for many existing small businesses. There are some legitimate reasons why such a void exists in the world of small business, but before I get to that point, let me identify the members of a structured finance team.
Banker: As with all of the team members, developing quality relationships is part of the team building process. In the banking industry, it’s not the bank who lends you the money, it’s the banker that that takes your application and serves as your advocate. Don’t just open a business account with a “personal banker”; meet the manager and tell them about your plans. From that point forward, every time you go to your bank stop in and visit with the manager. Leave a copy of a new flyer or brochure or a website address.
Accountant: I recommend the use of a CPA who can help you in the original set up of your “money handling process”. Advice from a CPA will help with future tax issue and also will help in the establishment of a bookkeeping system. Financial records are the real defining measure of how your business is doing.
Attorney: Although not a financial professional, an attorney can advise you on a variety of legal issues that will have a financial impact on your business.
Financial planner: I recommend a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) who works on a fee basis. This type of practice can help you with both your personal and business finances. It takes into consideration your personal finances and combines them with your business needs. By knowing what has to happen on both fronts, a financial plan becomes the center piece of your financial business plan.
Financial Implementer: this is the person that will help you purchase the right investments to reach the goals you set with your financial planner. In many cases, this person can also handle the wide variety of business insurance needs as well as direct your investment portfolio.
Business Consultant (mentor/coach): This is the person with whom you work to make your business dreams a reality. Such a support person needs to totally understand your financial position to properly help you with the development of an overall business and marketing plan.
These six members form the core of a business financial team. Frequent communications with all is the key to achieving a sustainable and profitable growth.
When a business is in a startup mode (usually the first five years), positive cash flow is small. I have been told by business owners that some potential core members have turned them down due to a lack of upfront cash. As an example, in working with a new client, I helped set up a budget with $100 per month being put towards retirement and another $100 into a reserve account, neither of which existed to this point. It was difficult to find a financial implementer to help invest that small amount and opening a bank account with $100 does not cause a lot of excitement. That is why relationships are critical. Your core group needs to know where you are and where you are going. They can help you grow which becomes a win-win situation for everyone.
Be persistent in the development of your core financial team. There are “good” people who care.
Nick J. Petra CFP