When hiring consultants or tradespeople to help do something you don’t know how to do, don’t want to do or don’t have time for, a little preparation and truthfulness leads to better results.
Anything from a scribbled list to a formal agenda puts both sides on a similar and more complete path.
Business owners deal with employees, tax accountants, website developers and consultants for various tasks and advice.
Owning a building may additionally include: zoning boards, painters, electricians, plumbers, excavators, landscapers, contract hires, etc.
When minor ideas or irritants surface but are not worthy of contacting someone, start a list.
Prefer more light in the back corner? Write it down. Handy to have another plug in the storeroom? Write it down.
When something significant breaks, then is the time to pull out the list of little things and call the electrician or whatever expert is needed.
Some of my business plan customers ask, what should I bring?
It's a good question, and I make suggestions. For the ones who do not ask, I volunteer suggestions.
If they arrive empty-handed, the likelihood they will finish the process declines.
Consultants ask a lot of questions. Please know it is okay to say, “I don’t know.”
Then make a note to find and supply an answer later. Some clients do not follow through, even though I stop and say, “Write that down.”
To forget once is not a sin. However, when consultants chase after the client repeatedly, it delays the project and increases costs.
Don’t complain that your tax accountant charged a high fee when you routinely danced back and forth for 12 months paying business expenses from your personal account and personal from your business checkbook and didn’t categorize expenses.
You are lucky any professional accepted the mess.
It is surprising how many entrepreneurs don’t really know the registered name of their business entity.
Saying it is registered when it is not is not recommended. I catch some of these by searching the New York state Department of State website (www.dos.ny.dos/corps) to include proof of an LLC, S Corp or C Corp registration in a business plan.
This saves lenders time, or prevents a delay while processing a loan request, if the mentioned name does not legally exist.
And, finally, it’s never good to lie.
When asked how much rent needs to be paid before access to leased space, don’t simply say $1,000 because that's the monthly rent.
A consultant will suggest the landlord likely requires first month, last month, plus security, equaling $3,000.
Don’t say, “That’s true, but just forecast $1,000.” One client who did that ran out of money and left the country six weeks after opening, sticking providers, equipment lessor and landlord with unpaid bills.
Charlene Maurer Finerty, owner of Plans and Profits, LLC, edits, teaches and writes custom business plans. See PlansAndProfits.com. She also offers a Write-Your-Own-Business Plan class on DVD at BusinessPlanWritingClass.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org anytime or call 343-1515 from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Her column appears alternating Mondays.