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Put these 5 types of expert advisers on your team

By Rieva Lesonsky

Especially when their businesses are young, many small business owners serve as chief cook and bottle washer, doing everything for their businesses themselves. But for your business to truly thrive, you need a “posse” of professional advisors to help you. Whether you outsource tasks to these advisors, or simply consult them when needed, their knowhow makes running your business easier.

Here are the five types of expert advisors you should have at your side.

1—Financial adviser

Just one-fourth of businesses with 11 to 25 employees and 64 percent of companies with 51 to 100 employees have a chief financial officer (CFO) or controller, according to a 2015 Small Business Report by Wasp Barcode Technology. With so many small businesses falling short in this area, a professional financial adviser can give your business a competitive edge.

Depending on the size and stage of your business, your outside financial advisor could be a bookkeeper, a certified public accountant (CPA) or even a CFO. A good financial adviser goes far beyond basic tasks like tax preparation and bookkeeping. He or she can also offer advice on financial management, wealth building and preparing to sell your business.

2—Legal adviser

From incorporating to developing contracts, from hiring to firing, so many aspects of running a business involve legal issues. Mistakes in this area can be costly, or even deadly, for your business. In a survey by Hiscox, nearly half (47 percent) of small business owners who have been involved in a lawsuit say it hurt their businesses financially, cost them customers or damaged their business’s reputation.

You can get some basic legal information, such as contract templates, from do-it-yourself legal websites. However, having an attorney review any contracts you create, advise you on the proper business structure, and offer ongoing legal guidance will benefit your business immensely.

3—Benefits broker

Employee benefits are a major factor in employee satisfaction and retention. Some 70 percent of employees say customizable benefits increase loyalty to their employers,  MetLife’s 14th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study reports. And according to the same study, as the number of benefits offered increases, so does employee appreciation.

Traditional workplace benefits, such as medical, dental, life and vision insurance, are the most popular with employees, and small business owners can boost employee satisfaction even more by adding benefits such as domestic partner coverage, health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), commuter assistance, childcare assistance and legal services. A benefits broker can help you identify the benefits your employees will value most, develop a comprehensive benefits package tailored to your business, and do it all within your budget.

4—Technology adviser

Successfully leveraging business technology can put your business ahead of the pack—but failing to properly manage technology can cost you big time. Small businesses are highly vulnerable to data security breaches, which costs an average of $46,000 per incident, according to a Kapersky study.

As technology becomes more complex, a technology expert or technologist can be a vital part of your business. A good technologist will do more than provide IT support. He or she can also help you develop an ongoing technology plan, ensure your technology is up to date, and streamline your business operations by choosing the appropriate technology tools to achieve your goals.

5—Mentors

When the buck stops with you, where do you turn for moral support? A business or executive coach, mentor or formal peer group can serve as a sounding board, providing invaluable outside perspective. In a study by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, as little as 3 hours of mentoring from SCORE, a national business mentoring organization, resulted in higher revenues and business growth.

Mentors are individuals who provide advice and guidance, often based on their own experience as business owners or professionals. Business coaches are paid consultants who work with you one-on-one to set goals and hold you accountable. Business roundtables are groups of business owners and/or executives who share their challenges and offer each other advice.

You may have started your small business because you craved independence and wanted to strike out on your own. But with professional advisors on your side, you don’t have to go it alone.

Need more guidance in selecting your posse of professional advisers? MetLife’s “Your Circle of Trust: 5 Advisors Every Small Business Owner Needsis a great resource.