What professional services are available, such as the Flying Doctors?
Because men’s sheds are mostly involved with older people, health services become a critical aspect of every men’s shed that is concerned with member health and well-being. Health professionals might include:
- The local hospital.
- Medical centres.
- Local doctors.
- Flying doctors.
- District nurses.
- Ambulance service.
- Diabetic educators.
- Occupational therapists.
- Hearing specialists.
- Gyms and health clubs.
- And so on…
Alliances and partnerships with professional services will provide a better level of services to the members rather than leaving them to their own devices.
Brokers can be very useful in helping the men’s shed with funding
A broker is an individual person that arranges transactions between a buyer and a seller for a commission when the deal is executed. There are many types of brokers that you can utilise for your start-up and in running the business:
- Finance brokers.
- Real Estate brokers.
- Business brokers.
- Investment brokers.
A broker is an independent agent used extensively in some industries. Their prime responsibility is to bring sellers and buyers together and thus a broker is a third-person facilitator between a buyer and a seller.
Examples would be a real estate broker who facilitates the sale of a house or renting of your business premises. A finance broker who finds the best finance for your particular business. Banks might have most of the money but they only sell their own products which are not necessarily competitive or appropriate for your particular business.
There are advantages to using a good broker. They know their market and have already established relations with prospective accounts. Brokers have the tools and resources to reach the largest possible base of buyers and sellers. Brokers also can furnish you with market information regarding prices, products, market trends and market conditions. You as an individual, on the other hand, especially in a new market, probably will not have the same access as a local broker.
In reality, a men’s shed is not much different to a small business. So when choosing a business advisor to help you set up and run your men’s shed, look for those with business experience. You will want them to be reliable, practical, useful and helpful.
You may require a number of additional advisors with specialised experience in technology, content marketing, websites, social media, proposal writing and so on. Your general business advisor should be able to help you with finding and selecting the best people for your men’s shed.
Accountant and bookkeeping services
Most businesses require the services of an accountant or bookkeeper because there are specific laws about the records that businesses need to keep. You can engage the services of an accountant to do your tax return each year, provided they are a registered tax agent. They can help you to set up your bookkeeping and member management systems before they get out of hand.
Choosing an accountant and a bookkeeping service is like establishing a new business partnership. The right accountant and bookkeeper will become trusted colleagues you can depend on, who offers advice and guidance as your business grows.
You should choose an accountant as soon as practical, based on selection criteria, never just because they are a friend.
Choosing the right legal adviser or legal practice for your business can be a difficult area to deal with. It is inevitable that all businesses, no matter what their size, will have to seek legal advice at one point or another.
Legal advice can range from, business names, business structures, employment law, dispute resolution, or simply drawing up contracts or legal agreements.
Choosing the wrong legal practice to deal with your business and personal affairs can cause a headache. You may find yourself having to cover extortionate costs because of their slackness, inexperience or incompetence.
Selection criteria for professionals
So what are the top things you need to look out for when engaging professional services? After you have created a shortlist, contact each of them and find out:
- What services do they offer? Do they regularly deal with people in similar situations to you? If you have specific needs, make sure they have experience in that area. If not you may have to pay for a more specialised service. Keep in mind no professional can be all things to all your requirements. Look at what they specialise in.
- Personality type. It is very important that you like the people you will be dealing with. They need to be able to communicate with you in a way you understand and like, otherwise it can become a real headache and you will be the loser.
- This may not be important if you are happy with an online service. You should give consideration to supporting your local professionals, but only if they meet your main criteria.
- Customer service. Do they provide a good service? Make sure they respond to phone calls and emails promptly. You may also want professionals that communicate in plain language, not professional jargon.
- Types of technology. Professionals usually have their own preferred systems. The chances are they have become used to one particular brand of software. If you can work on the same software there will be many benefits in cost and performance.
- Qualified. Are they a member of a professional association? If they are, they have to meet the standards of the Association. It also means you can complain to the association if you’re not happy with their performance.
- Fees and charges. What will you be charged, and when? You need to understand the mix of hourly rates and time it will take to do your work along with any other on costs. There are many that provide free or pro-bono services or are covered by health and other government programs.
If you’re happy with the answers to all these questions, you can then feel confident about working with a professional.
Some professionals will do little more than managing your immediate requirements, but the best will be more proactive. So before choosing a professional, ask what they could suggest to save your money and help you to service your members and help your men’s shed to grow.
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As we know men are reluctant to seek professional advice unless there is something serious. I remember once when we organised a district nurse to visit a men’s shed and give the men a basic check up, their blood pressure, blood sugar, hearing, eyesight etc. It was like watching a bunch of nudists climbing through a barbwire fence.
The important thing is not to lean on your own understanding. If in doubt seek professional advice and your men’s shed will move forward better and faster.