You’re probably mulling over a business idea. It’s probably something you’ve been thinking about for a while. And you’re probably ready to turn your business idea into a reality.
As part of the planning stage, you’ll want to gather information, do research, and make sure that your business idea is viable. During this information-gathering stage, there’s a small list of people you should talk with before you move forward with bigger steps like applying for a bank loan or looking at commercial space.
To help you on your business quest, carve out time to talk with these five people:
1. Your spouse
One of the first people you should talk with about this new venture is your spouse. It sounds like a no-brainer, right? But some people get so caught up in their business idea that they don’t have a real sit-down conversation about how the business could impact their relationship, finances, and free time.
“Starting a new business can be all consuming, and the support of your spouse and family will make all the difference,” business mentor and lawyer Anne Sumpter Arney says. “It is best to know whether or not your family is ready for the commitment and time that starting a successful business will take.”
2. A lawyer
Starting a business involves a few legal hoops, so you’ll want to talk with a lawyer. For instance, should you start an LLC, an S-Corp, or an Inc.? A lawyer can give you advice and draw up the legal paperwork to make sure your business structure meets your goals and limits liability, Arney says.
A lawyer can also help you define business relationships. Maybe you borrowed money from one of your peers in exchange for equity in the business, or maybe you plan to start a company with several partners—whatever the situation, you’ll want legal documents to set boundaries and minimize future disputes, Arney says.
3. An accountant
When you’re just starting out, you’ll need some accounting advice. A lot of new business owners assume an accountant is just someone you call to handle taxes, but an experienced accountant can review your business plan and help you decide whether or not your business will be profitable and what kind of time it will take to generate profits, Arney says.
After the initial review, your accountant can help you establish your payroll and other financial practices to help you track what comes in and what goes out. And yes, when April rolls around, your accountant can help you file taxes.
4. A trusted adviser or business coach
Getting a little advice from someone in the business world is also a good idea. Whether you’re opening your first business or your fifth, talking with someone who can give you independent business advice will go a long way, Arney says.
“You need someone who as has been where you are and knows what there is to lose, as well as to win. Business owners need someone who knows them and their business and is independent enough to keep the vision tied to the real world,” she says.
Ideally this person will be able to give you advice for years to come—not just as you plan your business, but also as your business grows.
5. A banker
A lot of entrepreneurs obtain at least part of their financing through a traditional bank loan. If you plan to borrow money, you’ll want to find a trusted banker to help you through the application process. You may want to ask your business adviser to recommend a banker, or you could ask other business colleagues for a suggestion.
The smart way to start a business is with as much information as possible. By talking with these five people, Arney says you’ll start your business on solid footing.