Building Your Startup’s Team of Outside Professionals Team – Lawyers, Accountants and Providers

Starting a startup can be lonely.  Starting a startup can be hard.  Starting a startup can be confusing and overwhelming.  Starting a startup can be the best, or worst, experience of your life. 

Have Fantastic Legal AdvisersSo, how do you make it one of the best experiences of your life?  In my opinion, it starts with building a team of people who believe in you and your vision AND who have skills you need to build well.  So many entrepreneurs fail, not because of a bad idea or even bad execution, but because they get caught up, in legal, regulatory, organizational, financial or accounting issues.  And by bringing on high quality professional resource providers, you can move your company along and avoid a lot of pitfalls.

So, here are some practical suggestions to help!

  • You need strong legal counsel, accounting/audit and tax accounting support and banking
  • You probably need at least a part time CFO or controller (i.e. a senior financial person)
  • You really really need a “venture attorney” – a law firm that regularly handles rounds of funding from venture capitalists and experienced angels.
    • If a law firm offers offer to write a PPM or “private placement memorandum”, just say no!
  • In some cases, such as law, consider having multiple providers, especially for specialized work
    • Intellectual property, real estate
    • Great for backup if you have a time crunch
    • Feel free to have them compete for business for a specific, big ticket items such as prosecuting a group of patents
  • Depending on your background, you may also need marketing, PR, social media management and advertising.  Some you can outsource to entry level or freelancers, some you may need a more sophisticated team.

How do you afford your Professional team, especially until you’ve raised money!

  • Don't be Afraid to pay for legal helpAsk for discounts – You’re small, they know it and the folks who “get it” will work with you on price, in exchange for loyalty in the long run
  • Some firms, especially smart law firms, will take equity in lieu of some fees or significant fee reduction
  • Be Loyal to the small handful of firms you pick – they are part of your team!
  • Refer and Recommend, they help you, you help them.
  • Make friends with your banker, they should add value!
    • Generally, your local “business banking services” are NOT what you are looking for – go to a venture bank if you can find one (even more difficult after the 2020’s collapses!)
    • Make the bank earn your business!

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