Your Team is a Wheel (and Sometimes a Football Team) The importance of building your company’s support team (and how to aggressively mix metaphors)

Every business and every business owner should have an external support team. Your team might look different from another company’s, but every team should have similar intangibles and serve similar purposes. Your team should be trustworthy, proactive, responsive, and knowledgeable. I also like to be on teams with people I enjoy being around, but everyone’s tolerance for that varies, so let’s call likeability a bonus feature.

How is my team a wheel?

Allow me to mix metaphors for a second. A good team has a quarterback. Your quarterback is the center hub of the wheel, acting as the first line of defense for your every question, thought, brainstorm, and idea. It is not the quarterback’s job to know the answer to every question or have the perfect implementation for every brainstorm. The quarterback (the hub of the wheel, stay with me here) needs to know enough about everything to be dangerous, and they need to have a well-maintained professional network so that they can make an introduction to the perfect person, service, or software at a moment’s notice to address your immediate need.

Who should be the hub at the center of my wheel?

The short answer: your CPA.

The long answer: like with any good question, is that it depends. Every business and every business owner is different, but in my (admittedly biased) experience, the CPA is often the most well-equipped to be at the center of the wheel playing quarterback for the business’s support team. It is our job to be generalists, having at least a baseline knowledge about a lot of things while also homing in on certain areas as well. In many CPA firms it is common to see each partner or staff member digging deep on slightly different topics and using their colleagues as a resource for knowledge and experience in those other areas of focus.

What does the CPA do at the center of my wheel?

Your CPA should be responsive when answering your questions and proactively evaluating your situation, checking in regularly to stay on top of changes to you and your company. A check-in might be a shared article, a phone call, an email with an interesting thought, or a conversation during a routine meeting. They should be taking what they learn from these check-ins, running it through their knowledge base, and filtering the content they consume to only those items that apply to you. They can then come back to you with suggestions for improvements, introductions to specialists, and ways to improve your company, strategy, planning, and processes

Let’s take a real-life example:

I recently started working with a new client, let’s call them ABC Co. The owner of ABC Co, Sam, came across an article I had written and reached out with a few follow-up questions. We got to talking, and it quickly became apparent that ABC Co and Sam had outgrown their current tax preparer but weren’t sure where to turn next. Sam had ideas about what ABC Co’s future should look like but wasn’t sure how to put those ideas into practice.

Our introductory call was about Sam getting me acquainted with ABC Co and its affiliates, and at the end of the call I started making introductions, building the initial foundation for ABC Co’s and Sam’s new team. I introduced Sam to:

  1. A financial advisor that specializes in 401K and other retirement plans to discuss options for putting away more of ABC’s profits for Sam’s retirement in a tax-friendly manner
  2. A financial advisor that specializes in personal financials for small business owners, particularly those approaching a potential exit strategy for their company, to discuss Sam’s plans for the future, risk tolerance, and financial goals
  3. A consulting company specializing in Research & Development Tax Credits to discuss how ABC Co could be taking advantage of this potentially lucrative tax credit (one that they could have been taking advantage of for years but that had not been brought to their attention previously)
  4. Our rep at a payroll company that ABC Co was considering switching to, possibly getting them access to a discount through our firm’s partnership with the company
  5. A tax attorney specializing in state and local taxes to get an opinion on a unique and intricate sales tax question specific to ABC’s industry
  6. An attorney specializing in trust and estate work to revisit an asset protection plan that Sam had put in place with an attorney years back but had not been updated since ABC Co had become significantly more profitable in recent years
  7. An attorney specializing in corporate structuring and M&A to discuss a potential restructuring of ABC Co and its affiliates
  8. An attorney specializing in intellectual property, specifically dealing with overseas affiliates, to ensure that Sam’s plans for growing ABC’s footprint overseas was set up for success

Within two weeks I had joined Sam on introductory calls with each of these potential external team-members, and together we began building out ABC Co’s support team.

Now that I have a wheel, what next?

It’s up to you! You can always reach out to any member of your support team directly, but many business-owners find it easiest to have one primary point of contact sitting at the center of the wheel. Sam calls the plays, and it’s my job as the quarterback to get the ball into the right team member’s hands to execute on Sam’s ideas or answer Sam’s questions.

Successful business owners are often great at doing what their business does, and there’s no reason for them to be spending time or energy on things that are better delegated to their support team.

Ready to start building your team? Reach out today, we can help set you and your business up for success!