The Small Business Administration has many excellent educational programs for entrepreneurs. Inside the curriculum of several of their courses is a clever reference that I haven’t been able to identify the author of, but the turn of the phrase puts a smile on my face each time I hear it.
They teach that every business owner needs “BAIL.” And once you know the definition, you realize that, in reality, it’s a combination of resources that really can get or keep you out of jail in extreme circumstances
B stands for Banker who can help you not only obtain necessary capital but understand the prudent and efficient ways to finance your business as it grows. While one might be tempted to think of the banker as the one who “bails you out,” that can be a dangerously unlikely assumption. CEDF, of course, is not a bank. So for our clients the B stands for Business Advisor who will connect you to the lending team as appropriate and usually take your worried 11 pm call to strategize on how you’re going to make payroll.
A is for Accountant. And this is meant to cover the territory of both bookkeeping and accounting. Many accounting firms do not choose to provide bookkeeping services, but a certified public accountant is the best choice for both bookkeeping clean up (often made necessary by using a less than experienced bookkeeper), long-range financial planning and preparation of tax returns.
I is for Insurance Agent who will make sure you are carrying the proper kinds of coverage and policy limits. Catastrophes that kill small businesses include not just natural calamities but the disaster of not obtaining easy and affordable coverage for predictable, although infrequent, events.
L is for Lawyer who will consult with a business owner on what legal form to adopt and provide direction for creating operating or shareholder agreements. The relationship should continue as the lawyer is consulted about employment law issues or legal matters related to property or specific industry regulation.
Entrepreneurs love to be self-sufficient and some take this to the extreme of avoiding use of any of these professionals for the sake of reducing expenses. And then, of course, when trouble comes, there’s nobody available to “BAIL” them out.
— Frederick Welk
CEDF Business Advisor