by Demola Rewaju
The idea of the self-made successful individual is one that we all like to aspire to be and that is one of the reasons that many people want to be entrepreneurs – either as self-employed persons or as business owners. Self-employment is what your business studies (or business method) teacher taught you in junior secondary school where you are the sole proprietor of your enterprise and you had to master all the processes of your business – from production to packaging to marketing and sales; and then you also had to keep your own books and monitor your finances but that’s just one style of an entrepreneur, the more difficult style because it means you put in more hours individually to increase your income.
The importance of lawyers cannot be over-emphasised for any enterprise and after losing my very first business a few years back, I went in search of a lawyer and since then, I’ve never done business without involving a lawyer.
A business owner on the other hand is willing to give up some control of his business profit in order to produce a system that works independent of him. He entrusts the fate of his company to those who are skilled so that he can maximise profit. A business owner is merely a facilitator, a leader of the business process and may or may not have skilled knowledge in that field but he keeps in his mind the big picture – the entire picture of the business from production to sales and back to finances. Business owners realise that they cannot be everything themselves and that they need some other people to partner with them. They realise that they absolutely need these three people to succeed – their lawyer, accountant and mentor.
The importance of lawyers cannot be over-emphasised for any enterprise and after losing my very first business a few years back, I went in search of a lawyer and since then, I’ve never done business without involving a lawyer. Apart from seeing you through the necessary process of registering your business and keeping it legal, your lawyer also helps you to avoid unnecessary litigation. Most importantly people usually pay more attention to you when they know that you have a lawyer.
In choosing a lawyer, it may be somewhat important to choose a friend that you know (a university colleague isn’t a bad idea) but make sure that the friend is totally professional in his duties and actually knows what he or she is doing. More importantly, you must find a lawyer who understands business and while this may seem trite, it is something that most business owners miss and I have fallen victim of it too, but thankfully, without disastrous consequences. Lawyers are trained to avoid litigation by closing every potential loophole with so much legalese. Business owners know that business thrives on trust and mutual understanding – a complex agreement would scare away the other party and your lawyer needs to understand this, that while you wish to protect yourself, you also do not want the other party to feel they are about to be cheated and so the more simple the documents are, the better for everybody.
The second person you need in business is your accountant or financial adviser. For those who would go far, you cannot be your own financial director even if you understand numbers and figures. Every business owner should know the basics of profit margin, cost of sales, operating expenses, assets, liabilities etc but when it comes to stuff like processing tax documents it can be complex and is usually something most business people do not wish to deal with, hence, the need for a financial person.
While you can afford to disagree with and often disobey your lawyer in making business decision, you should only disagree with your accountant very rarely and only when you are absolutely certain of the outcome of your decision. Many businesses have lost money simply because the owner didn’t listen to their accountant. Footballers and artistes usually end up broke because they didn’t have an accountant beside them.
The most important person of all is your mentor who is simply someone who has been where you want to go and whose experience you can draw from. Mentors don’t have to be in the same line of business with you to be able to advise you properly but you do need to submit to them and give them the respect that is due to them. The mentor-protégé relationship is one that cannot be fully covered in this piece and I will definitely expand on it in subsequent write-ups.
I trust this piece has been most helpful to you and I wish you a great week, no matter what happens.
Demola Rewaju blogs at www.demolarewajudaily.com and tweets from @Demolarewaju
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.