Frequently Asked Questions About Business Needs
Q. Do I need a lawyer for my business?
You may not think you need one this minute, but it’s always best to consult a lawyer before you need one. They know the legal system and know how to make it work for you. Seeking advice from an attorney on how to proceed can save you money later, and protect your interests in the future. Click here for other legal considerations.
Most attorneys offer free consultations for a first visit. Use that consultation to interview the attorney, as you would any employee -- your attorney does in fact, work for you. Make sure the attorney is someone you have a rapport with, and someone you feel comfortable entrusting your business to -- preferably an attorney who has represented companies similar to yours in the past, and understands the way the industry works.
Q. Do I need an accountant?
Every business needs an accountant to help control your cash flow and help you develop a growing and profitable business. An accountant prepares, analyzes and helps you understand your financial data. An accountant is crucial when it comes to filing your taxes, but also plays a role as a financial advisor, providing services that will help you all throughout the year.
You’ll want to use the same criteria to find an accountant, as you do an attorney -- finding one who understands and hopefully has some experience in your specific industry. Ask for references and check them. You’ll want someone discreet and who has your best interests at heart, and preferably not a family member. Frequently family problems will arise that can affect your business; or business problems will arise than can affect your family. Your accountant will play a crucial role in your new business, and it’s best to utilize the services of a competent, respected professional who will be supportive and pro-active through start-up and the inevitable ups and downs that your company will face.
Q. How can a banker help me?
Developing a good working relationship with your bank before starting your business is good thing. If you’ve never met your bank’s loan officer or branch manager, go in and introduce yourself. And don’t be afraid to ask some questions. Find out if your banker has experience in making Small Business Administration (SBA) guaranteed loans. You may not be ready for a business loan yet, but when you are, your bank is a good place to start looking -- let them know that you’re planning ahead and may be in touch at a later date regarding an expansion loan. A commercial banker can also help with other things related to financing your business venture: acquiring equipment or inventory, financing real estate, providing working capital, consolidating or refinancing debt, etc.
Make sure you have established a bank account for your business, apart from your personal account. And keep good records for that account, as how you handle your start-up business funds will certainly affect your chances of getting a loan later on. You’ll want to also make sure that you develop good business AND personal credit to insure your loan eligibility. (This is where your accountant can help you to set things up properly and keep them running smoothly).
Q. What kind of insurance do I need? Or do I need insurance at all?
You will almost certainly need insurance, even if your business is run out of your home. Only a licensed insurance agent can assess your needs and your company’s risks. Your agent needs to be someone who does more than just sign you up for coverage. A good insurance agent will assist you in assessing changing needs as your company grows, protecting your company's assets, and accumulating capital. They may also offer employee benefit programs, if you wish to provide benefits to your employees; and you will definitely need Workers Compensation insurance for all your employees -- it’s compulsory by law. Look into various companies licensed to do business in the State of SC (check out the SC Department of Insurance), and even scrutinize specific agents before deciding who your agent should be. You’ll want someone with a good professional reputation among business owners, and whose company has a high ranking with the state.
Q. What do I need to know before hiring employees?
It is advisable to look into both federal and state employment laws before hiring employees. You can find South Carolina specific information through the SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. You can also sign up on their web site for free OSHA training at various times of the year. For information regarding federal employment law, go to the web site for the US Department of Labor, providing employment laws assistance for small businesses and workers.
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