Wouldn’t it be great if you had a team in place that would help you avoid troubles with your business? You can have such a team – your BAIL team.
Your BAIL team will consist of a Banker, Accountant, Insurance broker and Lawyer. Each of these members of your team will help guide you through important decisions as you build or grow your business.
"B" is for Banker
The Banker is the member of your team who can advise you on what types of bank accounts you should have for your business. They can also provide some banking tools that may make your business-owner life easier. I always suggest you start talking with the business bankers at the bank where you do your personal banking. They can learn about your business and inform you about products and services the bank can offer (presuming they do commercial banking).
Some of these services can include providing a seamless way for your business to take debit/credit card payments. They might provide access to corporate credit cards. Or 24/7 online banking for the business owner who cannot do their banking between 9 am and 5 pm.
Establishing this relationship at the outset can save a lot of headaches and allows you to start a working relationship with a human at your bank. It's great to have a personal contact when you need help, instead of having to rely on an 800 number for customer service. Having a good relationship with a banker will come in handy if you ever need to pursue a loan through that bank.
"A" is for Accountant
The Accountant is the member of your team who you can talk to before you form your business. They can chat with you about your expected revenue and what business entity you would be best served by forming. This will impact how your business will pay taxes.
You can use a bookkeeper to set up your bookkeeping system and for your day-to-day data entry, but having a good tax professional on your team is essential because tax laws are difficult to navigate and frequently change.
By having someone prepare and submit your taxes, they can also defend you if you are audited or there are questions. This leaves you time to run your business while your accounting professional works with the taxing authority during the audit.
"I" is for Insurance
The Insurance Broker is the member of your team who will learn about your business model, your operations, your team, and your selling methods. They will look at any potential areas where you could face liability.
This is where it is good to know the difference between an insurance broker and an agent. An agent can generally only write policies for the company they are employed by. A broker can write policies from different companies they are licensed for brokerage with.
A broker will work with you to determine if you need extra coverage. Maybe for your personal vehicle for business use, a rider for a homeowner, or a renters policy to cover any damage done by business use. You may need to have a "key person insurance policy" that covers when a person necessary for your business operation dies, deploys (military), or becomes temporarily disabled. Another example of an insurance need may be coverage of a cargo container your business is using to import or export goods.
"L" is for Lawyer
The Lawyer is the advisor who you’ll also chat with about your business activities. And potential liability that could arise from those activities. Based on this conversation they can advise you as to the best business entity you should form. They can advise you on what types of contracts you may need with clients, employees, vendors and so forth. You can use a good commercial/business law attorney for this conversation. If you have intellectual property you want to protect, then you will also want to have an intellectual property attorney on your BAIL team.
How to Build a BAIL team
So now that you know who should be on your BAIL team, I have a few pointers on how to find the best ones for you and your business. I recommend chatting with other business owners to see who is on their BAIL teams. Then, once you have that information – take some time to talk with each one and see if they will be a good fit for your team.
These are going to be your trusted advisors. You have to trust them and feel comfortable having candid conversations with them, otherwise you will not get the information you need to make important business decisions. It's also not a good idea to hire your cousin who practices Family Law to be your attorney for business purposes. Choose wisely, not hastily.
While you are thinking about forming your own BAIL team, feel free to attend our Tuesday morning Grow with a Pro coffee chats. These are held on Tuesday Mornings from 9:00 to 9:30. Chat with a Banker the first week of the month, Accountant (tax pro) the second week, Insurance Pro the third week, and a Lawyer the fourth week. These will be resuming the first week of January 2022. Attendance is free and it is a great opportunity to bring your questions to the Pros who can provide good guidance.
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About the author
Steve entered the Air Force right out of high school. During his time on active duty, he obtained his B.S. Degree in Workforce Education, Training and Development. After serving 8 years, Steve honorably separated from the military and began law school a short time later. While in law school, he did a legislative externship to assist homeless parents in Washington State and he was elected Student Bar Association Treasurer. Steve got his J.D. from Seattle University School of Law in 1999. Upon passing the bar, Steve went into partnership with a law school classmate and then ultimately went solo. After closing the firm, Steve went to work as a counselor for incarcerated youth. He subsequently worked for some tech companies in a role of recruitment and training.