The importance of leaning on trusted advisors

Whether you’re just getting your business off the ground or you’re preparing to transition ownership, you should not going through the process alone. At every stage of the business lifecycle, the guidance and support you receive from key professionals can make a big difference.

In the 23rd episode of the Sharing Knowledge Series, host Kevin Vonderau, chief lending officer at Westfield Bank, sits down with Nolan James Jr., Esq., a shareholder at Cavitch Familo & Durkin and Leslie Oyler, CPA, Client Services Manager at Zion, Synek & Associates for a wide ranging discussion about the important role advisors play in growing your business.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the episode with Kevin, Nolan, and Leslie. You can also watch or listen to the full episode below

Phases of the business lifecycle

“The role of a trusted advisor is critical at each stage,” says Nolan. His law firm represents many early-stage companies and works with them to review key legal documents and commercial contracts. He’s found that a lot of new business owners don’t realize why it’s important to do more than just look over a contract and sign it: “Every term in a contract is negotiable,” he adds.

In Leslie’s experience, her first contact with companies often occurs when it comes time to file a tax return. Some clients simply rely on her firm for this annual obligation, but others tap into the broader scope of services in front of them. Leslie has found that companies get greater value out of meeting with a certified public accountant (CPA) on a regular basis instead of just once a year. Furthermore, as a company grows, they stand to benefit even more from working with an advisor to sustain and elevate their success.

As businesses grow, there are also personal finance questions that arise. A financial advisor and banking partner can help you navigate decisions regarding how much of your revenue should be kept in your business vs. how much you should pull for your own financial needs.

If you’re a younger business owner, retirement or transitioning away from your business might not be on your mind yet. But when it comes to business transition planning, Nolan says “you can’t engage too soon.” In his experience, the sooner clients plan for this stage of their business journey the better off they are in the end. There’s a lot of time and effort that goes into doing a proper valuation and positioning your business in a valuable place for a potential purchaser.

“You’re almost trying to work yourself out of the job,” Leslie adds. Business owners should build an internal leadership team that can ensure your business continues to succeed in the event of your absence or retirement, whether it’s planned or not.

Putting your team together.

Successful business owners are intentional about assembling a team of trusted advisors. This might include an attorney, account, a banker, financial advisor, an insurance agent, and any other trusted professional that can help guide you in the right direction. While having a dream team is important as a business progresses through each lifecycle phase, it might be the most vital during the early planning stages of a business journey.

From legal issues to economic shifts to ownership breakups, there are scenarios that have the potential to impact and disrupt any businesses best-laid plans. It’s usually not fun or easy to prepare for these possibilities, which is why having a strategic planning team in place from the onset of your business journey can position you to weather curveballs and sustain growth.

Growth amid uncertainty

Most business owners have anxiety even during the best economic times. Depending on who you ask, a recession is imminent in 2023. And while nobody has a crystal ball, what is certain is that we’re experiencing turbulent economic times – and business anxiety is on the rise as a result.

“We can’t avoid it,” says Nolan of the economic challenges in the market. He stresses the need to be prepared during times of uncertainty, from a capital and finance perspective. His firm is working closely with clients right now to ensure they have access to the capital needed to weather the expected storm.

Common advice includes taking advantage of available lines of credit, conserving cash, and getting your corporate house in order while improving existing systems and processes.

Leslie adds that now is the time to focus on your best clients to ensure their needs are being met. Even if you don’t need capital right now, Leslie has found that having good access will create opportunities for you to grow during tough economic times that your competitors might not have.

“A recession could actually help grow your business and come stronger out of it,” Leslie says of businesses that prepare accordingly.

Leveraging technology

New and emerging technology is one of the greatest opportunities for business owners to pursue growth. But this growth doesn’t happen automatically, as it requires investment, education, and intentional use.

At a minimum, the technology your business uses should evolve to be industry specific and should serve to directly support your growth. As your technology improves, your processes need to evolve in tandem.

You’re not in this alone

As a business owner, changes will always be around the corner. The most successful owners are the ones who stay prepared for the ups and downs of the business journey. There’s no need for you to navigate this journey alone – you only stand to benefit from surrounding yourself by a team committed to seeing you succeed long-term.

Plan for the journey ahead. Watch or listen to the full episode.