1. The astute accountant
This one's got a head for numbers and is not afraid to use it. From state and federal tax codes to specific deductions that apply to your business, your accountant can save you big bucks and keep you out of hot water. This person's most important skills include solid expertise in your area of business, a team-player mentality and a keen interest in helping you grow your business.
2. The seasoned attorney
When it comes to making sure you're on the right side of the law, you want the voice of experience giving you counsel. Look for an attorney who comes highly recommended from other business owners and who understands your market and the special legal and regulatory issues you might face. Some businesses may need more than one attorney, depending on the tasks at hand (e.g., contract law, patent filing, etc.).
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3. The masterful mentor
Having the ear of someone who has been there and done that can shorten your learning curve significantly--and prevent you from making costly mistakes. A good mentor doesn't tell you what to do, but rather helps you learn from his or her experience. Mentors may be colleagues, former teachers or others whose experience you deem valuable. Look to your current network to find someone whose work and expertise you admire, and set up a lunch date.
4. The supportive sidekick
Whether it's a trusted business partner, a beloved spouse or a faithful friend, you're going to need a cheerleader when times get tough. It may be lonely at the top, but it doesn't have to be miserable. Having an enthusiastic sidekick--someone who is willing to be a sounding board and help you get through the rough patches--is invaluable.
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