An entrepreneur I know who started a marketing firm for technology clients just hired some new account representatives, bringing his staff up to a dozen people.“What have you done about setting up 401(k) and health care plans?” I asked.“Oh, I got something from my insurance agent,” he said.I saw the benefits plan his insurance agent sold him. It came up way short in terms of investment options for the retirement plan, and the health insurance wasn’t the best bang for the buck.Here was an entrepreneur who was a marketing wiz and had hired some top talent to serve his growing clientele. But as I told him, he was at risk of losing some of his best talent if, all other things being equal, they found the benefits more attractive elsewhere.The problem was that he didn’t have the revenues to hire an HR director or other managerial-level experts in the financial administrative aspects of a business.I see this often among entrepreneurs:You might be a great marketer, inventor, architect, chef, software developer or whatever. But there are two things you should know about financial administration–what I call the personal finance of a business.
One, no matter how smart you are, this isn’t your area of expertise. Two, your job is to generate income for your business, and you shouldn’t take your eye off of that.Bottom line: You should bring in experts to take care of the finance details. But most small business owners, like my tech marketer friend, can’t afford high-level hires.So what do you do?I’m talking not just about putting together a competitive benefits package, and monitoring how competitive it is from year to year as the market evolves, but also about having experts to list out and evaluate your accounting services, liability insurance, risk management, and more.The list includes such details as getting the best terms for your lease and your office telecom systems. You might need to upgrade those systems frequently; think of how quickly we moved from landlines to VOIP, from massive servers to cloud storage.And these days you also need expertise on office culture; if you don’t have strict enforcement practices against sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying, a complaint could be costly in terms of settlements and reputation damage.Trying to handle all this yourself is like asking your bookkeeper to devise a chemical composition. As Jim Collins says in his best-selling book Good to Great, you don’t first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there–first you get the right people on the bus.If it isn’t viable to make full-time hires to take care of these details, the next best thing is to have a core group of go-to consultants, paid by fee for services or on retainer, who can go out and gather information for you and come back to you with an objective view. Here are some good ways to find them: