The 6 Essential Teammates Your Small Business Must Have

There is a common (mis)perception of the entrepreneur as lone wolf. That is, many people think that the classic entrepreneur is someone who comes up with a genius idea and then executes it on his or her own – damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead, no matter what.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

The best entrepreneurs know that great businesses come from having great teammates. Consider this quote from one of the best entrepreneurs ever:

Richard Branson: “I learnt from an early age the need [for] other team members as there is just too much for one person to do themselves. [And] what is the point of hiring talented team members if you don’t give them the freedom to make the most of the chance you have given them?”

This is as true for your small business as it is for these big businesses. If you want to succeed and grow, you too will need a variety of teammates who have the skills necessary to help you get ahead.

Here are the six that I consider essential:

  1. Banker: You well know by now that it takes money to make money. What you may not know is that there is a professional out there whose job is to help you get the money you need. That person is your banker. A good banker is your money professional.

He or she can help you analyze your business and help you prepare a loan package that can get approved. Indeed, working with your local banker early in the lending process is your best bet for getting a yes. (And by the way, my friends here at Bank of America have hired over 1,000 small business bankers over the past few years.)

  1. Accountant or Bookkeeper: Although often used interchangeably, these two professionals actually do different things (that sometimes overlap.) A bookkeeper is as it sounds – someone who keeps the books, issues invoices, keeps tracks of accounts payable, handles payroll and so on. An accountant can do many of these things, but typically has more education than a bookkeeper and whose duties tend to be more strategic and who would likely set up the business’ accounting systems.

Depending upon the size of your business, you will need one or the other to help you with the books, taxes, accounts, and so on.

  1. Lawyer: Should you form your business as an LLC or an S corporation? Should you sue or settle? Did your competitor’s ad libel your business? Only a smart lawyer can answer these sorts of questions for you, and that is why you need one.

Your lawyer will help get you out of trouble and will also help prevent you from getting into trouble in the first place. And if you need help finding a lawyer, our friends at Legal Zoom can help.

  1. Insurance broker: An insurance agent represents but one company whereas a broker represents many. Having a good broker on your team will help you get the right coverage and the best deal.

The final two teammates that I suggest you need are not “professionals” per se, but they sure are no less important:

  1. A geek: In this day and age, you will save yourself untold amounts of time and headaches if you have someone whom you can call that can get your technology squared away.
  1. An admin / assistant: If you don’t have an assistant, you are an assistant.

Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is the senior small business columnist at USA TODAY, the Editor-in-Chief here at Small Business Connection, a speaker and spokesperson. He can be reached at

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