What to Look for when Hiring a New Vendor for your Small Business

Running a small business can be hard.  You need a lot help with finding the right office space, doing any remodeling to your existing space, managing your money, and navigating your business contracts.  Therefore good realtors, attorneys, general contractors, and accountants – to name a few – are priceless resources in growing your business.  Here are a few tips to help choose a new vendor to partner with to help you run, and grow, your small business.

General Contractor:  The best way to start is by getting recommendations from your friends, family, or neighbors.  See who they have used in the past and what their experiences were like.  Perform phone interviews to narrow down your list before you begin getting estimates.  If the company in questions does not have time to complete your project before your desire deadline or can’t take on a project of your size, this is a good way help not waste your or their time.  After you receive the estimate, make sure you do your homework.  Do they have a good rating with the Better Business Bureau?  What are the online reviews like?  It is also a good idea to check in on the job site periodically.  Are they there and actually working?  Is the job site neat and safe?  Are the workers being careful with your property?  Finally, make sure that the work bid is the work being done.  Agreeing to a payment schedule in advance will assist you with budgeting purposes and to help keep your finances in order throughout the entire process.

Attorney:  Again, getting recommendations is the best way to find a good attorney.  While your Mom’s divorce lawyer may not be able to help when it comes to selling your business, but he may know the perfect person for the job.  Attorneys know other attorneys – they will be a great resource.  Be sure to check online for ratings and reviews.  Sites like Martindale, lawyers.com, and findlaw.com offer ratings and information.  Contact your short list and schedule your first meeting and as A LOT of questions.  Now, don’t be upset if you, as a potential client, is charged for this initial meeting – this is to keep folks from using this time to solicit free advice.  Finally, be sure to understand exactly how you will be charged.  Will you pay by the hour, a one-time flat fee, or a percentage?  After you enter a contract, the work doesn’t end.  Be sure you get copies of everything that is done that relating to your case.

Realtor:  Real Estate can be tricky and it is very important that you work with one that is an expert in your local area and in your sector of the market.  Getting references from at least three of their past clients will help you decide who you want to work with.  Trusting your real estate agent is key, so be sure you meet with them in advance so they show you the road map for how they plan on finding or selling your property.  A telltale sign of a great real estate agent is how connected they are from within the industry.  They should be able to recommend and assist you in choosing a mortgage company, inspectors, handymen, and other service providers that may be needed.

Accountant:  A good accountant can help you with anything from your day to day bookkeeping, to payroll, to tax audits.  You need to find someone that you can build a relationship with that will grow your business.  The biggest question you should probably as yourself is, do you really a CPA – they are authorized to take on more responsibilities than other accountants.  If you are comfortable in doing your day to day, you may only need to hire someone to help with your taxes, or vice versa.  Finally, knowing your bottom line is still important.  Hiring an accountant is not handing your financial future off to someone else to worry about.  You will still need to know what is going on and be fully responsible for the financial health of your business.

By doing your homework, properly researching any vendors you are considering working with, and making sure you are realistic about your needs and expectations, you will be successful in finding a long term partner with your best needs in mind that can help you take your small business to the next level.