If you are in business with family members, you’ll no doubt value the idea of getting family business consulting services without paying for them. When you own a family business, you’re not only concerned about the financial health of the company – you also have to balance feelings and relationships. And on top of that, you have to be concerned about continuation plans. It’s enough to make your head spin.
But is the solution to hire a family business consulting firm? Not always. There are plenty of free (and almost free) resources at your disposal.
1. Your CPA
Your current CPA knows more about your business than just about anyone else — and you’re already sending her a check every year anyway. She knows more than just how to do your taxes and how to calculate net worth. And she’s likely only more than happy to be of service. Who better to ask about tax advantages and small business tax deductions? Look to your CPA to provide guidance here. And you know what? If for some reason your current CPA is not qualified to provide this advice, find a CPA who is and start working with her now.
In most cases, you really don’t need a specialist. Just a CPA who is smart and has lots of experience working for family businesses. Your CPA is the best person to speak with about setting up a small business budget system. They are also a great resource to help find the best retirement plan for self-employed people like you.
If you hire an family business consulting firm, they are just going to bring on an outside CPA and you’re going to have to pay for the time it takes him to get up to speed. Why not start grooming your existing CPA to provide the same job anyway? It costs you a heck of a lot less.
2. Your Attorney
Same argument as above. Use your existing attorney. In most cases, you don’t need a specialist here either. If you do need some special advice, your existing lawyer can steer you in the right direction. You’ll probably have to pay for a few extra hours but again, it’s going to be much less expensive, and probably much more effective to do it this way. Family business consultants simply assemble a team of CPAs and attorneys – and charge a premium for their services. You can assemble your own team now. And if the task is simple, why not see if you can do the legal work using a service like Legal Zoom?
3. Your Clients
If your issue is marketing, why not just assemble a group of your clients? Ask them about their needs and how you can better serve them. Put a few lunches together and invite people who will be frank and sincere. They’ll point you in the right direction much faster than a consultant.
4. A Shrink
This one might sound a little off the wall, but it might be the most important step you could take. Often family business decisions are made in the interests of the family and at the expense of the business. In reality, such decisions hurt everyone in the family but compromises are made to “keep the peace.” Rather than try to ramrod a decision that’s sure to fracture the other family members or make a bad decision in order to keep everyone happy, call in a therapist. She might help everyone come to a much better decision.
You can do many things yourself because your vested interest in the business motivates you. Do the research and bring it to other family members before you hire a consultant. You’d be surprised what you can do for yourself and your business at no charge. (Read “Advertising Your Business For Free” for an example.)
My point is, when you have a family business, you are going to be faced with a variety of challenges. Pick the best resource to deal with the specific problem and you’ll get a better solution quicker and a whole lot less expensively. You don’t need to find one person who will solve all your problems. That person doesn’t exist. Consultants often hire the people you should hire and charge a premium.
Do you own a family business? Have you turned to a consultant? What were the results? What other tools have you used resolve issues in the business? Do you think there is a place for a family business consultant in your situation? Why?
Well…at least you won’t need a consultant to tell you about some interesting posts to read over the weekend.
Here are a few great ones I’ve already picked out for you:
Len Penzo suggests how to be smart when you sell gold jewelry.
Joe Taxpayer is convinced that the recession is over. Is he right?
Kelly provides a few ideas for the kids: healthy lunches on a budget. Hey, some of those ideas look good to me. Pass the P&J!
Monevator schools us on assessing probability. Don’t go to Vegas until you read this first.
Mike Piper has cracked the code: Deducting an IRA Loss. This is a guy with true grit. An amazingly detailed post.
Deliver Away Debt asks if you are using your credit cards as a crutch.
Canadian Finance Blog – Cheap or Free Exercise. Read this…then drop and give me 20!
Here’s one my kids have GOT to read: Should you start a side business in college by Green Panda Treehouse.
MH4C teaches us how to make money selling ebooks. Move over, Amazon!
Financially Poor provides some nice insights on how to get cheap magazines…oh…wait…I mean magazines for cheap.
Financial Highway reminds us to prepare for our peak income years.
How to Evaluate A Budget – KNS Financial
Doug dispels the myths of Social Security benefits for spouses.
How to create your own MBA – Gen Y
Darwin’s Money discusses how a payroll tax holiday might impact us.
Invest it Wisely writes about Saving on Taxes and Growing Your Wealth with the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA).
Young and Thrift on Real Estate Commissions – Decoded!
Money Reasons chimes in on some ways to raise money savvy kids.
Moolanomy provides a very useful post on 4 ways to save on prescription drugs.