When the idea for a business begins to form, a smart entrepreneur does research about product, competition, location, customers, demographics, and puts it all into a business plan.   However, business dreamers often leave out some of the most important aspects of business planning.

Here are a few things that I carried from my first business as a CPA to my current business. I strive to follow the advice that I gave to the small business accounting clients who came to me for advice.

1. Hire an accountant.

Word of mouth referral is usually the best way to find a professional to assist you with your business affairs. Ask other business owners, friends and family to recommend and accountant and then interview several to see if the relationship is a good fit. You must be able to confide in and trust your accountant so you will need to be able to understand what he/she is saying. Ask for references and make sure you contact those references.

2. Before you sign any documents such as leases, contracts, franchise agreements, consult an attorney. 

I almost lost my business because I signed a lease without the assistance of an attorney. I had a realtor and a contractor who both told me that the building was fit for my business, but when the contractor went to pull permits to begin tenant improvements, the cost almost doubled. It has taken me a long time to recover from that mistake.

3. Hire a payroll company to calculate and pay your payroll taxes. 

There are many taxes that business owners must pay but the one that is most sensitive to taxing authorities is payroll withholding taxes. With payroll withholding taxes, the employer is withholding  federal, state, Social Security (FICA) and Medicare taxes from the employee and must pay those taxes to the proper agency ( 7 things small business owners should know about payroll tax problems – very scary). If you withhold the taxes from employees and use it for business operating expenses, basically you stole money from your employees.  More small businesses are closed down from the failure to pay payroll taxes than any other taxes.

4. Find a good business insurance agent. 

There are several insurance policies needed for a business, liability, workers compensation, auto, health, life and an umbrella policy to protect everything. You will get peace of mind with a good insurance agent who will assist you in obtaining the right coverage and to help you if you ever need to make a claim or if you encounter other insurance problems.

We cannot possibly know all that is needed to begin a business. Paying an expert up front will be well worth it and will help you to avoid the many pitfalls of starting and running a business. This will free you to do the thing you LOVE that drove you to start your business in the first place.