Five pros you need to recruit to your small business team

The right professional advisors help small businesses grow.

The right professional advisors help small businesses grow.

I don’t think anything has changed in business over the last several years more than the relationships between business owners, employees, contractors, advisors, consultants, and freelancers.

Owners are still owners, but the lines between owners and all the other professionals with whom owners work are blurring.

Small business owners have for a long time “outsourced” some vital functions – for example, there’s nothing new about having an established relationship with an independent accountant. But, there are other professionals who are new to the game. Let’s look at critical professional relationships that have almost always been outsourced as well as some new independent professionals you might want to recruit to your team.

Mentor or coach

The wise know what they don’t know. I’m not contradicting myself here. What I want you to understand is that wisdom is recognizing the limits of your knowledge and that’s why the most successful business owners and entrepreneurs work with mentors and coaches.

Taking this just a step further, you need to connect with a coach or mentor who has experience that matches your situation. If you’ve been in business for a while and are now hitting a rocky patch, you need to find someone who has “fixer” or turnaround experience. If you’re in a crazy startup mode, that requires a different individual.

Even if you are a start-up and feel you’re not in a position to get an “official coach” there are dedicated websites where you can obtain advice online.  For example, SCORE is an excellent resource where you can get expertise and advice for free.  Manta is another community where small business owners can share ideas and expertise.

I encourage you to take steps today to find the right mentor for the position you and your business are in. Until we start working with people more experienced than ourselves we don’t know what we don’t know!


Unless you come from an accounting, investment, or banking background, you probably have a lot to learn about the relationship between your business and its growth to cash flow, assets, taxation, payroll, and other sundry financial issues.In a great recently published MetLife paper on this topic, they note that only about a quarter of all businesses with between 11 and 25 employees have a controller or CFO.

Further, whenever the topic revolves around money, it’s critical that you work with someone that you not only trust, but with whom you are also comfortable. You need to be open, honest and frank with your finance pro, and this person needs to be the same with you. The MetLife report offered some good tips for finding a financial advisor, including:

  •  Get a few recommendations when you’re searching for an accountant, bookkeeper, or independent CFO.
  •  When you have identified candidates, give each some smaller tasks as a kind of audition to find who is the best fit for you on both professional and personal levels.

Benefits advisor

Benefits and their costs are critical for small businesses today because of two market forces that are at odds with each other:

  •  The tight market for top talent requires small business to offer appealing benefits packages.
  • The competitive business climate requires small businesses to hold down costs.

Those requirements aren’t mutually exclusive, but any small business owner who tries to “go it alone” is going to be at a real disadvantage. Listen to how one small business owner put it to MetLife, as noted in their report.

Justin Johnson, CEO of LeadMethod, an Oregon-based software company with about 10 employees, summed up the situation that faces all small business owners: “I don’t have the time to know what to look for, what types of benefits are available, and how they comply with the different laws and regulations. I need someone to give me guidance that’s based on what’s important to my company and my people.”

Content creator

Here’s a profession that probably didn’t exist 10 years ago, but should be a member of your “support team” today. Content marketing and the related field of social media marketing creates a huge demand for article writing – among other types of content creation. However, content marketing involves writing – a lot – and that can cause many small business owners to relive their high school English class nightmares.

There are good freelance writers available who can get this work done for you at a reasonable cost. When you find one who seems to fit your niche, maintain the relationship. If you start jumping around between writers, it will inject inconsistency into your content marketing materials.


Hopefully you won’t need to spend much time in your attorney’s office, but it’s a great idea to establish a relationship so your attorney knows you, your goals and your situation.

Don’t necessarily take the first recommendation you receive. A relative might say something like, “Ben Jones has been this family’s attorney for 20 years…” However, if you see your staff expanding and mergers in your future, you probably need an attorney with experience well beyond wills, probate and living trusts.

Bonus recommendation: Let me add one group to this list of individuals you should want to have working alongside you. Along with a coach or mentor, you might consider joining a mastermind group. These are typically groups of entrepreneurs who are in similar positions in terms of the development of their businesses. They bounce ideas off one another and hold one another accountable.

Finally, my list doesn’t exactly match the list that the folks at MetLife came up with when they tackled this topic, so you should check out what they have to say in their report, “Your Circle of Trust: 5 Advisors Every Small Business Owner Needs.” MetLife does a great job giving you advice on how to “Find your guide.” It’s well worth reading.

Editor’s note:  This is blog post is sponsored by MetLife.  All opinions and comments are my own.