Business development and marketing are important, but first make sure the foundations of your SME are solid.
Whenever I start working with a business owner, whether a start-up, an early stage growing SME or a long standing business, there’s always one conversation I make sure I have at the very beginning of the relationship. Is your business properly protected? By that I mean legally – trademarks, intellectual property (IP), shareholder agreement, contracts with suppliers, commercial property leases etc – but also other protection such as key man insurance, death and/or critical illness insurance for owners/key employees and business insurance for supply chains, or professional indemnity, for example.
With shareholder agreements in particular I often get a response such as “we don’t need one, we are husband and wife” or “it’s me and my brother/father/sister/son (delete as applicable!), we will never fall out”. Trust me, you will. I have been a business consultant for 18 years and the most difficut times have been when shareholders fall out. Everything comes to a stop, business cannot continue as usual and the stress and strain is immense, let alone the financial implications of settling a dispute with no agreement in place.
Or tech start-ups try to save money by not taking tax advice, but end up losing out on valuable advice that can save them money and even gain them valuable tax credits for R&D, for example, potentially missing out on payouts of thousands of pounds.
Similarly, I have seen so many early stage businesses fall apart because of not having IP protection in place, or not having done sufficient branding due diligence at the start. I have a client currently for example who is having to rebrand completely after 3 years, due to an IP name challenge from a very large US company. When they were tiny, my client was under the radar, but now they are growing the US competitor is forcing my client to change their name, with huge operational and financial implications.
Cyber security is also becoming a huge issue – what would you do if your systems were breached and your client data compromised? Or what would happen if your warehouse caught fire and all your Christmas stock was destroyed? If you import from overseas, are you protected against a major problem in your supply chain or a faulty manufacturing component that injures a customer?
The businesses below have protected many of my clients and come highly recommended. They all specialise in working with founders, entrepreneurs and small business owner-managers to help them protect their businesses. These are the partners I recommend to clients. Click on the image, give them a call and tell them Caspia sent you!