Just as no man is an island, a small business owner (SBO)—or at least one who hopes to succeed and make a profit—cannot exist in isolation. Too often, SBOs try to wear too many hats and keep too many balls in the air instead of devoting their time and efforts to the real “job” of a SBO: finding new clients and growing the business.
While it’s true that professional services aren’t free, and can sometimes even be quite pricy, I can honestly say that I have never paid for a service from the list below that hasn’t paid for itself—some many times over, in fact.
Here is a list of the professionals who have played a role in the success of Traduction Proteus. While some are a permanent fixture, and others have been consulted only on occasion, they all have one thing in common: they help me to be an extremely productive SBO!
(Note: Traduction Proteus is an incorporated company. As such, not all of the services below will apply to all SBOs.)
(Note 2: You’ll notice I say “she” a lot in the following paragraphs; in my case, most of my business gurus are women!)
This one is self-explanatory. If I had to spend time doing my month- and year-end financial statements, doing expenses, remitting taxes, filing corporation tax, and generally doing other accountant-y things, I would never have time to do the work that actually makes me money. Not to mention, I would probably develop an ulcer.
I don’t often need the services of my notary, but she has proven invaluable over the years, namely when I purchased the company back in 2005, and periodically when I’ve needed to make entries to or consult my minute book, which is kept at her offices. A notary is also a must if you’re considering purchasing real estate through your company.
A competent business lawyer will be worth her weight in gold if you’re thinking about making major changes to your corporate structure, especially if you have employees (and are considering downsizing or layoffs). You’ll want to make sure all your legal i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, or you could end up in a whole heap of trouble with the Commission des normes du travail (or equivalent employment standards board).
4. Payroll company
See #1 above! Sure, you could spend time every pay period calculating source deductions, insurance premiums, pension plan contributions, bonuses, and vacation pay—or you could pay a payroll company a nominal fee to do it for you, and actually get some real work done instead.
5. Banking adviser
If you have a business bank account (and you should, as Mr. Accountant will sternly tell you), your banking advisor will make sure you sign up for a banking plan or package that best suits your needs. She can also help you with credit solutions, such as business credit cards and lines of credit.
6. Financial adviser
Once you start making piles of money, you’ll need to know what to do with it! This is where your financial advisor comes in. Don’t forget, there’s no such thing as a company pension plan when you’re a SBO. So, you’d better know how to invest your hard-earned dollars so you can be sipping margaritas on the beach as early as financially possible!
7. Marketing consultant
SBOs are typically very good at what they do; however, what they may not be so good at is selling their services. Marketing consultant to the rescue! She can help you enhance and improve your image, design a new brand image, logo or website, target new markets, and devise business development and social media strategies.
8. Business coach
If you’re ever feeling directionless, uninspired, scattered, or overwhelmed by issues within your business, you should strongly consider consulting a business coach. Much like a therapist (don’t worry, she won’t ask you about your mother!), a business coach will force you to take a long, hard look at yourself and your business practices to identify the obstacles that might be standing in the way of your success. Often, a few sessions are enough to help you get back on track.
In my case, these are other qualified translators whom I know I can rely on to get the job done well and on time. Because I only translate into English, having a network of talented French translators on speed dial is a must for me. Fellow English translators and revisers are also key partners when it comes to handling a work overload. After all, the number one goal is client satisfaction!
10. Networking group
I can’t say it enough—no man (or woman) is an island! It can be scary, but SBOs need to get out there and sell themselves. No one else is going to do it for you, and there’s no substitute for meeting prospective clients face to face. It’s also helpful to meet other SBOs who can empathize with your situation. Join your local chamber of commerce or a networking group, check out an event (grab a glass of wine or two for liquid courage!), and start handing out business cards. Wear your best smile!