Category Archives: Outsourcing

It’s Too Expensive

I don’t usually write about books I read. However, reading This Book is About Travel by Andrew Hyde got me thinking.

In spite of the title, the book is about much more than travel. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone. The author gave away everything he owned and traveled the world for 16 months. He traveled with one backpack and purposely didn’t plan every detail to take advantage of random adventures whether those adventures were conversations with locals, tours, or just experiencing a new community. While I’m not sure I could live out of a backpack and either couch surf or stay in hostels for an undetermined about of time, I appreciated reading his insights. Hyde traveled for the experiences, not just to check locations off his bucket list. He found creative ways to get to know the locals and refused to buy guidebooks.

Rather than a historical accounting of his trip, Hyde shares his experience about a different place he visited in each chapter of the book. The chapter about New York City struck a cord with me. He was visiting a friend, and they had the opportunity to see a Broadway play at over 60% off the regular price that would have cost them $40 each. The response of his friend? It’s too expensive. (The issue wasn’t a lack of money.) Notice the response of his friend wasn’t that he didn’t want to see the play. That got me to thinking about how many experiences I missed out on because I thought something was too expensive. Yes, the value is in the eye of the beholder, and there is the economic reality of simply not having $40. After reading this chapter of the book, missing out on something I wanted to do because I wasn’t willing to spend $40 seems foolish. And I’m determined to stop and think before declaring something is too expensive.

34HBeing a business owner, I also related Hyde’s New York City experience to running my business. We business owners work too many hours, think we can accomplish more than is realistic, and miss out on too many other experiences. Is it too expensive to invest $30 per month in software to streamline and automate a business process that will also give back two hours of your time each month? What could you do with that two hours? Go for a walk? Spend time with family or friends? Accept a new client?

What about the cost of outsourcing areas of our business where we have little experience, dread doing, get stressed out over, and mostly avoid? Is it too expensive to outsource those things that keep us awake at night and freak us out? What’s that worth to you? Think about the result of that investment. Who among us doesn’t complain about not having enough time to accomplish all we want? We all get 24 hours in a day and the only way to get more done in a day is to eliminate things from our to-do list or outsource. Outsourcing could mean automating with software or hiring someone to help us get more done. In the future, before I say something is too expensive, I’m going to stop and ask myself what it’s worth in the way of enjoying a new experience or giving me more time to accomplish more on my to-do list. How are you going to open yourself to new experiences?

Creating Opportunity by Delegating

delegate to success

 

When I started my business, I did everything myself. My first foray into delegating happened when the paper started piling up on my desk because I had less time to scan and organize my receipts and other documents. I chose to delegate that task to Shoeboxed.

The next task I delegated was organizing the various tasks I had to complete for clients. I delegated this task to task (project) management software.

Following that, I took a bigger step at delegating. I hired a virtual assistant to help with my newsletter, social media, phone calls, and even travel arrangements.

Why did I delegate these tasks? Because there is a limit to how many productive hours I have in a day. When I delegate tasks, I am more organized and able to accomplish more in a day. I also have more time for client work and even for myself instead of spending time on administrative tasks. I mostly delegate tasks because of time limits, not my inability to perform them. However, there are skills such as graphic design, copy editing, and web design that I do not possess and choose to delegate to an expert. An expert who will accomplish the task at a fraction of the time that I could and with a much better result. Oh, and let’s not forget the reduction of stress at not constantly trying to cram too much into too few hours.

I’ve come to view delegating as something more than outsourcing tasks I cannot or choose not to do myself. Whether I am delegating tasks to software to automate them or paying an expert to perform those tasks, I am paying forward my success. My business reached the milestone of not being able to go it alone. By delegating tasks to an expert, not only am I able to use my own time more efficiently, I am providing the opportunity to an expert to grow their own business. What’s better than giving back?

Stress and the value of time

As I write this, the holiday season is in full swing. Anyone with a product or service to sell is marketing like crazy. Just take a look at your postal mailbox and your email for proof. It takes extra effort just to sort through all that for what you need. Along with the day-to-day activity of running your business there are the year-end things to think about; estimated tax payments, retirement account contributions, health insurance, getting your books up to date, etc. Add to that holiday preparations; travel, decorating, shopping, baking, etc. Overwhelmed? The more overwhelmed we are, the less productive we are because we lose focus. The less productive we are, the more stressed we become.

Continue reading

When to Hire an Accountant

There are many articles written regarding when to hire an accountant, and opinions vary. Here’s my take on when and why you should hire an accountant.

Setting up accounting software

There are some tasks involved with running a business you should not attempt on your own and this is one of them. What are the most common problems I come across?

  • Adding an excessive amount of income and expense accounts (categories).
  • Not entering beginning bank and other account balances.ID-100200640

Most business owners complain about doing their own accounting but set up an overly complicated system when attempting it on their own. Be nice to yourself and keep it simple! Better yet, get professional help. Continue reading

The Hidden Value of Networking

networkingThere are thousands of articles written on how to make the most of networking events. Most of the articles offer advice on how to find clients at those events.

Here’s another reason to network: finding future consultants, partners, and employees to help grow your business. At some point you will need to hire a virtual assistant, accountant, project manager, etc. How will you find the right person/firm to hire? Let me tell you, it’s much harder than you think.

Before you begin your search for the right person to hire, you must narrowly define the mission, vision, and ideal client for your business. Why does this matter? Because the consultants and employees you hire can’t help carry out the mission of your business if they don’t understand it. Continue reading

small business payroll doesn't have to be time consuming.

The Payroll Challenge

As your business grows, you will likely face the challenge of how to pay employees. If you are a Quickbooks user, some of the options offered by Intuit can look cost effective. Or maybe you just want to do everything with a spreadsheet. After all, payroll is just hours x pay rate, right? Not exactly.

The Short-List

Here’s just some of what is really involved:
• New hire reporting
• Workers compensation insurance (varies by state)
• Withholding the correct taxes from the employee checks (federal, state, local)
• Calculating employer payroll taxes
• Timely payment of employee and employer taxes
• Timely filing of tax returns (monthly, quarterly, annually)
• Garnishments
• I-9 forms/E-verify

Overwhelmed? Good. Payroll is more than just paying employees. There is a lot of legal compliance involved and it takes a lot of education to stay on top of that.

Hire Experts

There are companies who specialize in processing payroll and many have affordable options for small businesses. Statistics show that roughly 40 percent of small businesses incur an average of $845 a year in IRS penalties. If you outsource nothing else for your business, outsource your payroll processing.

Companies such as SurePayroll and Ceridian will help you set up your payroll, do your new hire reporting, tax payments, tax filing, and even provide labor law compliance assistance. Your responsibility is entering the hours and actually running the payroll. You will also need to let the payroll company know when anything changes with your taxes (i.e. unemployment tax rate).

Integrated Solutions Not Mandatory

Many accountants and even business owners believe that the only payroll option is one that integrates with your current accounting solution. I disagree. With an integrated accounting solution, all employee data is stored in the accounting software. Quickbooks is an excellent example of this. Most small business accounting software does not provide enough control over user accounts to prevent someone from accidentally seeing payroll information. If you are doing most of your own accounting work and have other staff members in that accounting software, you do not want a payroll solution that integrates with your accounting software. The drama that can occur because the details of employee checks became known by the wrong person(s) will make any reality tv program look like the Lawrence Welk Show. For this reason, I prefer to utilize a separate payroll solution and simply record the payroll with a journal entry which contains summary data only. By the way, all payroll data (reports, employee files, etc.) should be kept in a locked cabinet with access strictly limited.

Bottom Line

Why don’t I recommend the integrated payroll product with Quickbooks? Because I’ve seen very few clients succeed with it. If you don’t specifically go into the payroll module you will miss making timely payroll tax payments and filing tax returns. Payroll is very complex and it takes a lot of training and hard work to understand it. Quite honestly, I think your time as a business owner is better spent on other areas of your business. Payroll is one part of your business you should leave to the experts.