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Other businesses and the expertise they bring can often times make your life easier as a business owner. It is important to develop good relationships with attorneys, accountants and bookkeepers, insurance agents, human resource specialists, web designers and marketers. Each can help build your business.
Many business owners consider legal services only when their firms are in trouble. However, costly and time-consuming legal problems can be averted by retaining a competent attorney who can advise on such business areas as choosing the type of business organization that best suits your needs and objectives; protecting your family's financial security from the business risks advising you as to local, state and federal regulations which affect your business; obtaining licenses and permits; preparing or inspecting contracts; resolving tax questions; assisting in obtaining financing; and giving practical advice on many business problems. Attorneys also can provide professional help when dealing with other parties such as financial institutions, owners of possible store or plant locations, union officials, governmental bodies, franchising companies, contracts with suppliers and customers and insurance coverage negotiation with employees.
In addition, other problems may arise requiring the services of an attorney. For instance, the employer may be served with wage deduction orders against employees which, if not handled properly, can result in personal liability on the part of the employer. Other examples:
When seeking an attorney's counsel or assistance, be as prepared as possible. Collect pertinent data, do necessary research and have as much information as possible about your business. This will save your attorney time and you money. When considering an attorney, use discretion. Remember, an attorney will provide services fundamental to the success of your business. Below is contact information for the Illinois State Bar Association.
For help with a legal issue you may also contact Illinois Legal Aid. Illinois Legal Aid’s mission is increase access to justice for lower-income and vulnerable Illinois residents through the innovative use of technology to assist and educate the public. One of Legal Aid’s goals is to serve as the central depository of legal services in Illinois. They reduce the time it takes applicants to secure services and direct them to the best provider to meet their legal needs. They also offer live on-line legal assistance and searching capabilities.
Many people starting a small business fail to consider their insurance needs. A well planned insurance program is essential for protecting a business from unforeseen losses and significant financial burdens. Four types of insurance coverage are essential: fire, liability, vehicle and workers' compensation. In addition, there are several desirable types of insurance coverage: business interruption, crime, key employee, Officer and Director, and home office. In organizing an insurance program, there are four basic considerations:
For more information on insurance, contact:
Insurance Consumer Fact Sheets on various types of insurance are available here.
Access to proper information is provided by a sound bookkeeping system. Functions of a good system include:
These responsibilities may be undertaken from within or outside of the business. This will depend on the size and nature of the business and your own experience and available time. Your accountant, attorney or banker can help decide your needs for a bookkeeper or bookkeeping service.
In addition to bookkeeping requirements, you may need the services of a certified public accountant (CPA), an accountant who has passed a written examination prepared by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and who has received a state license for their public practice of accountancy. CPAs provide the following services:
Although you may have hired a bookkeeper to maintain accounting records and prepare financial statements, there are many reasons why you may need financial statements certified by a CPA. For example, banks and other lenders frequently require an audit before a loan is granted and during the period that the loan is outstanding.
Most businesses do not have employees who are experts in tax matters and, therefore, must rely on professional assistance. This is particularly true today when the tax laws are complex and continually changing. The tax services provided by CPAs include planning transactions for the lowest present and future tax liabilities, preparation of tax returns, conferences with taxing authorities who are examining prior years' tax returns and estate planning.
Because of their experience with many companies in many industries, CPAs may be able to assist you in cost reduction, improvement of reports, installing or upgrading accounting systems, budgeting and forecasts, financial analyses, production control, quality control, compensation of personnel and records management.
The Independent Accountants Association of Illinois (IAAI), established in 1949, also can refer a competent accountant to the potential Illinois small businessperson. IAAI's membership is composed of both CPAs and non-CPA accountants. Many of the IAAI accountants are licensed to represent a client before the IRS. Non-CPA accountants can assist with accounting, sales and payroll tax preparation and other business consulting needs.
The Illinois CPA Society is the state professional association representing more than 25,000 certified public accountants. The Illinois CPA Society is one of the largest state CPA Societies with members in education, government, industry and public accounting. Members of the Illinois CPA Society are bound by professional ethical standards.
BusinessUSA is a federal website that offers entrepreneurs and small businesses a direct path to
information on financing, exporting, starting and growing a business, veteran’s programs and disaster assistance. They also offer step-by-step guides to help identify business opportunities, access financing, learn about taxes and understand new healthcare changes. To ask a question, chat online, sign up for email updates or make an appointment with BusinessUSA, contact:
IllinoisJobLink.com is an internet-based job board which allows businesses to post help-wanted ads for free. It is quickly becoming the state's go-to resource for employers to find that next employee. It provides the ability to search for specific skills. The no-cost, HR-recruitment effort will even help businesses identify potential tax breaks associated with certain hires, such as veterans. To set up your free IllinoisJobLink account, post job orders and search resumes, go to: