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Relying On Protection

Three "players" you need on your business' offensive line

Peyton Manning just completed his most productive season ever as a pro. If anyone is surprised by that, they shouldn't be. According to ESPN, what many fail to realize is that statistically the Denver Broncos have the number one offensive line in football. The fact that Manning was rarely sacked last year and was sacked less than anyone else in the league contributed greatly to his banner year. If you're a business owner who wants Super Bowl-level success for your business, says Sean Castrina, you should put together an offensive line that can provide your business the same level of protection.

"Offensive linemen are paid to protect their quarterback," says Castrina, author of 8 Unbreakable Rules for Business Start-Up Success. "When searching for ways to protect their businesses, business owners should think like John Elway, Denver Broncos team president, who has made protecting Manning priority one. Too many business owners believe they are saving money by doing in-house bookkeeping, getting legal advice from friends, and choosing a bank based on how fast they can make a deposit. Don't even get me started on do-it-yourself tax returns. NFL team owners and coaches don't fill their roster spots with their friends, and you shouldn't either."

Castrina says former Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs knew the importance of putting together a strong offensive line and always protecting the quarterback. Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks, none of them Hall of Famers. He knew protecting his quarterback needed to be priority one and so he put together the strongest offensive line he could, known famously as "The Hogs."  Where should you start when putting together an offensive line to protect your business? Castrina recommends first filling three important positions on your business roster:

Left Tackle--Your Accountant. The left tackle position was made famous in the movie "The Blind Side." The tackle positions are on the ends of the line protecting the quarterback from opposing players coming from the outside. Specifically, the left tackle protects the quarterback's blind side. "Business owners, your accountant is your left tackle," says Castrina. "Your accountant keeps you from having a year-end tax bill that could cripple your company. Your accountant will ensure you're following all tax laws, protecting you from unexpected legal issues. An alert accountant will be up-front with you about cash flow and cash reserve issues, making sure your company has the cash 'energy' to play through any change in momentum for your business."

Center--Your Bookkeeper. The center initiates each play by delivering the ball to the quarterback. No football team fills their center position by choosing the first guy to walk in off the street. They need someone who can pay attention to details, whose nerves aren't easily rattled, and who can act with precision. And that's what you need in your bookkeeper. Just because there are For Dummies books out there on bookkeeping doesn't mean that you, your spouse, or your inexperienced friend should handle this task.

"In fact, you're a dummy if you think someone can learn bookkeeping from a how-to book at the level you'll need to meet your goal of having a million-dollar company," says Castrina. "Too often business owners have no idea how much is owed to them in receivables because their books are not current. And you can't initiate any growth strategies when you don't have a clear understanding of the state of your affairs and current resources."

Guard--Your Banker. The guard position protects the quarterback from obvious threats. He's the player determined to run straight ahead and in clear view, often just an arm's length away from his quarterback.

"Your banker should be your guard fortifying your line of protection," says Castrina. "Cash and lines of credit should be close to you at all times. These protect you from the obvious problems of not being able to pay vendors on time as well as providing credit for large capital purchases that score touchdowns and put points (cash and profit) on your scoreboard. You should have constant face-to-face contact with your bank, so that whenever needed, they can deliver the resources you need to win the game.

"When you don't protect your business with a strong offensive line, it will take hit after hit after hit," says Castrina. "Those hits deplete profits and tax your Rather than running fully energized into each quarter, your business will limp and drag until eventually it can't play anymore. A strong offensive line--accountant, bookkeeper, and banker--can protect your business from damaging blows and ensure you reach Super Bowl levels of success each year."

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