Fatherly Advice

Recently a reporter asked me what my hobby was in school. Like many of my generation I answered “working”.   That might not be as interesting as playing a sport perhaps but in a family in at least it’s third generation of entrepreneurs it is what it is.

Perhaps you were as fortunate as I was to have a father who could teach you a little something about business. In my family growing up, as it is in my family now, business was one of the centerpieces of discussion. And I learned a lot from those conversations.

One thing my father told me many times was “make sure you have a good accountant and a good attorney, listen to their advice and pay them what they ask”. I have found this very useful over the years and thought about it this week when I met first with my accountant and then my attorney as we wrestled with several business opportunities.

We live in a complex world, an in the insurance agency business where we deal with heavy regulation, complex contracts and many relationships a good attorney’s advice is not just valuable it’s a necessity. I find that many business people, especially those just starting out, have not taken the time to find an attorney they can develop a relationship with over time. They seem to thing a lawyer is someone you only call when in trouble.

On the contrary I find that a good attorney, who knows my business, and me can keep me from stumbling over things that I might otherwise. Yes, their fees can seem expensive, but like most things I have invested in this advice taken often has produced solid returns.

Almost everyone has an accountant these days because business taxes are too complicated to deal with even in a small business. But that is just the beginning of an accountant’s usefulness. Perhaps the best thing about my CPA, who has known my business and me for a long time, is a really solid perspective. This is very useful as it is very helpful to have great advice from an outside perspective, but a perspective that understands you, before making decisions.

Another asset that my accountant brings to our discussions is her knowledge of what other business people are doing and how they are handling financial aspects of their businesses. This can be incredibly valuable. Also, just like a good attorney, a great CPA can be a source of important introductions to other professionals. Of course, saving money on taxes is always welcome!


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