Operate as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company or corporation? Will you perform your service or sell your product from your home or will you lease office space? Do you have enough money to fund your business, or must you take out a loan? Will you create your own business cards or you have them made? What will you charge for your goods or services? How much insurance do you need and what kind?

Paraphrasing Piglet’s lament in A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, “I wish [my team] were here. It’s so much friendlier with [five].” Starting your own business may appear, on the face of it, to be an easy task and something that you can do on your own, but you will soon find out, without even realizing it, that you are amassing the ‘team’ who will prove invaluable to you at every step of the way.

So, who are the five people essential to your team?

1. Business mentor or counselor (SCORE can provide you with a free mentor) will help you to develop your idea and assist you with the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of your initial start-up and throughout the life of your business. Your mentor will be of immense assistance with the development of your business plan.

2. Lawyer. Counsels you as to the legal ramifications of starting a business and helps you to select the form of business you will adopt, prepares and files the legal documents required for your business, develops the contracts you will need for your service or product, assists you with the hiring of employees, reviews and advises you with regard to contracts, leases and the like that you will be required to sign, etc.

3. CPA or Accountant. Explains the tax ramifications of having your own business and guides you toward the best solution, obtains your tax identification number, prepares your PA-100 (if applicable), prepares your tax returns, and keeps you informed about any changes in the tax laws that may affect you or your business.

4. Business Banker. Assists you with starting capital for your business, sets up your business bank accounts, line of credit, and services all of your business banking needs.

5. Insurance Agent. Conducts an in-depth interview with you to learn about the type of business in which you will be engaged and the risks associated therewith. Suggests the appropriate types of insurance to address the potential risks and finds the insurance product best suited to your business and personal needs.

Whether you are starting a new one or you have been in business for many years, choosing to adopt this team approach will go a long way toward ensuring the success of your business.

About the Author(s)

Counselor/Chapter Chair, Pittsburgh SCORE