It's easy to choose an advisor, it's difficult to choose a good one. Paul Quintero, CEO of Accion East, offers his thoughts on making the right choice.
In terms of how to choose advisors, it’s, um, it’s not – it’s easy to pick, it’s not easy to pick good ones. Um, I would say that, that of the – all the advisors that, that folks need it would start with the accountant. That’s probably one of the most critical ones. And what we have seen in our experience is most people find individuals that know how to prepare tax returns because what they’re most trying to do is minimize tax obligation. But those individuals aren’t – don’t tend to be certified public accountants, for example, and therefore, don’t always look at your long term interests. And we have seen, time and time again, where someone helps you with your immediate need, which is minimize your taxes, only to short change your ability to access funds because since you didn’t report much income therefore you can’t get a loan because your financials don’t show that you have the ability to repay it even though you know, oh, my business is doing very well. Um, if you can afford it, a certified public accountant would be the best option in terms of the type of accountant, and then among which ones to choose, that kind of depends on who has expertise in your specific area of work. There are accounts that do things for retail, there are accountants that do things for manufacturing. It’s just like law. Find an accountant that works with your kind of business, that’s most valuable, and then if they can come recommended from someone, even better. In terms of the other advisors, we don’t tend to have a lot of folks work with investment advisors because that already assumes you have something to invest. And most entrepreneurs are looking to create that kind of income first. So that’s probably the least of your concerns. But the other advisor, I would say, that’s critical is a lawyer. Now, just like accounting, different lawyers for different needs. In our experience, what we have found is, for basic, um, incorporation you don’t need lawyers. You can, you can do a lot of this by yourself. But if you make something that is proprietary, having someone protect your intellectual property would be a good use of lawyer, or legal time, to make sure that you’ve protected yourself after you’ve created something. But more common than that is real estate. We find time and time again someone finds this great spot, has visions of what their little restaurant or shop is going to look like, has perfectly selected the location based on where the best traffic is, only to lose out on the lease terms and after generating a very successful business but not having negotiated a good lease, the rents go up, they can’t afford it, and their business basically falters and fails. Um, you need good real estate advice if you’re selecting a location. And that you shouldn’t skimp on. So, a CPA, if you can get one, in your area of expertise in your business and a real estate lawyer if you’re choosing a location, can serve you very well for the future and most people skimp and then therefore suffer a couple of years later down the line.