Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

July 21, 2014 Talking Points

Starting a company? Six advisors you must have by your side

Douglas S. Brown

One of my favorite shows to watch is “Shark Tank,” where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business idea to potential investors and get honest feedback on their concept. After each episode, I think: The winners might have the funding, but there's so much more that's needed.

When launching a startup, here are the six advisors who can help you get where you want to go:

1. A financial expert. When I say financial expert, I mean someone very different than an accountant, who is another valued advisor I'll highlight later on. These two will play equally important, but separate roles in starting your business. An accountant sees your financial history, which tells them a story of what has already happened in your business. A finance expert on the other hand, could be equated to a chief financial officer.

This person is going to help you look into the future and build real business models you can follow in scenarios that could occur in the future. This person will project your company's value earnings and costs, gather market intelligence, project your sales, and use these predictions to build financial models that will stabilize the future of your company.

2. A marketing advisor. When we talk about marketing, people immediately start thinking about websites or Constant Contact — and that's fine. But to really succeed at marketing a startup, you need someone who understands business buying decisions for your industry and the audience your product or service is helping. Contrary to popular belief, the best marketing experts are highly quantitative and have a strong understanding of statistics — marketing is just as much a numbers game as anything else in business.

3. A logistics advisor. If you're starting a product-based business this is a must. A logistics advisor will make the first round of your product inexpensive, proving you have a market, and continue to meet the developing demand as your company grows. If you're in the service industry, your logistics advisor's job will be to ensure that a high-quality experience is delivered to customers regularly. This person must work in close contact with the marketing advisor and your finance expert, so he or she understands the business' goals and can plan to supply the goods or services appropriately.

4. An accountant. As I mentioned before, an accountant efficiently handles your business' taxes, and various other items, including payroll as your company expands. However, not all accountants are created equal, and it's important to find an accountant that has experience helping businesses like yours launch.

5. A legal team. Much like your accountant, your legal team needs to have a strong track record in the startup industry. Yes, it will be tempting to use affordable and accessible services to create legal documents yourself, but you should understand that these documents are only as good as the data that goes into them.

By starting a business, you're managing risk every day. A strong legal team that is well-versed in startups in addition to your specific industry will be able to identify and meet legal needs you didn't even expect.

6. A team of investors. Many people look to a bank for the funding necessary to start their business — and that's OK. But while that bank might have the access to the capital you need, it's not going to take any special interest in who you are, and what you're selling. That can only come from like-minded people who believe in your idea. That being said, it's important to realize that no one will invest in your idea if you have not invested in it yourself. In fact, sometimes, your capital might just come from your own credit card. But eventually, you'll find investors who share the vision of where you want your company to go and can help you get there.n

Douglas S. Brown is associate faculty at the online MBA program in the Malcolm Baldrige School of Business at Post University and executive director of the Connecticut Bar Association. He has more than 20 years of practical experience growing and turning around entrepreneurial organizations.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF