For lean startups and small businesses with an exceptionally small staff, it’s incredibly easy to find yourself wearing too many hats throughout the workweek as tasks and responsibilities pile up without dedicated team members to handle them.
While some switching between roles can actually ensure you’re staying on top of everything that needs to get done day in and day out, overloading yourself with internal tasks can not only lead to burn out and stress, but keeps you from concentrating on how to best move your business forward in the first place.
No matter what size your business is today, effective time management is essential to ensuring you’re able to grow tomorrow.
When it comes to small business and startup operations, time is a commodity. To use yours wisely, outsourcing internal duties might be the solution that frees you up to start growing the business.
Let’s run though four internal activities Madison, Wisconsin small businesses can outsource to trained professionals.
1. Small Business And Startup Payroll Processes
This is an area that carries big legal risks for those who aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of tax law. Dropping the ball here can mean huge repercussions from the IRS when payroll taxes aren’t completed properly––penalties that could potentially cripple your business.
Outsourced accounting services not only free you up to work more closely on the revenue-building side of your business, but reduce the constant anxiety that comes with knowing it’s squarely up to you to get it right.
Outsourced accounting firms diligently update their services when rules change at the federal, state, and local levels––somewhat common occurrences that can catch business by surprise if they aren’t paying close enough attention.
If you’re using valuable time to manage this side of the business, outsourcing can provide an affordable solution that can ultimately allow you to take a more active role as a leader rather than a manager.
2. A Wide Range Of Marketing
It’s an incredibly important component to any small business struggling to get their brand visible and establish a positive reputation in the industry. Simply put, marketing ties directly to sales––the engine that ultimately drives revenue.
If you commonly find yourself too busy to close on your next batch of sales, it’s time to start thinking about finding an agency that can provide valuable help.
Whether it’s simple consulting, public relations, or specialized marketing campaigns a third party can plan and carry out, getting traction in your market with a skilled marketing team is important if you intend on sustaining business for the long-haul.
3. Administrative Support
This can be a common need among entrepreneurs new to managing a business on their own. If you simply don’t have the capability to take care of every task and still have time to work on improvement and growth, subscribing to a virtual assistant service is a cost effective way to ensure everyday business responsibilities are completed consistently.
Here are just a few of the things these virtual assistants can help with:
• Email management
• Personal scheduling
• Newsletter preparation and publishing
• Travel management
This is often the most neglected task small business and startup owners continuously struggle with time and time again. Accounting encompasses much more than number crunching and record keeping––it’s the tool businesses use to measure and compare their performance and financial health from week-to-week, month-to-month, and year-to-year.
Accounting mistakes can’t be ignored or shrugged off. Wrong figures this month will lead to even less accurate figures next month––it’s a domino effect that can leave your books in chaos if steps aren’t taken to make sure every financial action is being accurately accounted for.
Outsourced bookkeepers not only ensure your books are completely accurate and complete, but finish the work much quicker than the average in house accounting manager.
In addition to keeping up your books, outsourced accountants are a resource you can reach out to for professional advice and guidance when owners face tough financial decisions and need a practical course of action that takes their budget into account.
It’s tough to succeed if your finances are in disarray. For help getting things in order, contact our start-up accounting and CFO services experts.
Photo credit: Digital_Third_Eye
Small businesses and startups beginning to expand their company and take on new hires need a solid HR plan in place to ensure their internal systems can support the bigger team.
The problem is, when budgets get tight, smaller businesses have to make a concerted effort to do they best they can with what they’ve got.
Falling behind on human resources, however, can come back to haunt small businesses when requirements aren’t met and fines and fees come along to cripple your growth.
For those who want to build their HR strategy beyond avoiding the complications that come with meeting regulations, it’s time to take a proactive approach. Here are 5 mistakes small businesses commonly make when putting together their human resources strategy:
Falling behind on proper employee documentation
Accurate and complete employee documentation is one of the most important pieces of human resources. In addition to the internal benefits of having this information logged for your company’s reference, agencies like the Department of Labor, the IRS, and Immigration Services routinely double check employment records to ensure requirements are being met.
While the specifics of documentation can differ from state-to-state, generally speaking, a proper set of employee documentation should include tax and social security information, residency status, legal residence and mailing address information, and any information about their job classification.
Inaccurate overtime pay
Overtime can be dense, complicated area of HR that spells disaster for many small businesses and startups. To make it even more complex, many states have radically different laws in place between each other.
Job classification plays a big role in figuring out overtime. Most of the time, workers operating on an hourly pay schedule qualify for overtime once they start working more than 40 hours per week. Salaried workers are often exempt from this, unless classified specifically as a non-exempt employee.
If this sounds like it’s confusing quagmire of laws and regulations, for many, it is. One of the most important ways to make sure you’re staying on top of HR is to get your staff trained in both federal and state laws that apply to the workers inside your company.
Forgetting to put together an employee handbook
Informative employee handbooks are important for two big reasons. First, they communicate to workers what their rights are according to state and federal labor laws. Second, they make the company’s expectations clear by providing a go-to reference when questions arise.
If you find yourself struggling to deal with employees who aren’t complying with company policy, a handbook is the perfect way to assure no one can argue they weren’t aware of what is expected of them as an employee.
When the unfortunate situation of termination arises, handbooks written in compliance with federal, state and local laws also give businesses a legal justification––protecting them from discrimination laws, and other potential accusations.
Oversimplified job descriptions
Poorly written job descriptions (or the lack of any at all) can lead to workers not knowing exactly what role they’re supposed to play in your company. While some small businesses and startups certainly make the most of their employees ideas for moving forward, not having clear roles defined throughout the company can quickly lead to an organizational nightmare.
Take the time to sit down with managers and employees carefully lay out solid job descriptions for each position inside the company.
While most of these problems can be avoided with vigilance and proper documentation, if you find yourself overwhelmed by HR responsibilities, we’re here to help. Contact us today and get more information about how we can help.
Photo credit: yprime
Whether you’ve found yourself trying to dig your startup of a messy accounting hole, or want to get proactive and prevent money mistakes before they happen, knowing what not to do is often just as important as knowing what the right steps are to take.
Entrepreneurs don’t start their new business ventures only to spend hours working out budgets and managing their company from the inside. They have dreams to chase and need a well-oiled accounting process to make sure they can focus on growth rather than constant internal management.
Especially for business owners just starting out, putting off your accounting tasks doesn’t make them go away. The less you’re able to nail down accurate books this month, the harder it will be to fix them next month.
1. Not integrating accounting as a core component of your business process
One of the most common problems entrepreneurs make has less to do with the specifics of accounting, but how they treat it within their business.
Just like sales or marketing, accounting is a core part of the broader business process––not a task that simply hangs on from the outside. Thinking of it as something that only needs to be thought about “every once in a while,” already sets you up for disaster down the road.
Accounting tasks come into play just about every day. Making sure expenses are logged and tracked on a daily basis not only saves you from devoting a huge block of time at the end of the month you’d spend compiling all of that information, it also helps to ensure every expense is noted and accounted for when it comes time to get your books in order.
2. Ignoring Cash Flow
It happens all the time.
An impassioned entrepreneur launches a business and is spurred on to expand after some initial success only to realize the business isn’t in the green––it’s deep in the red.
Bottom-line profits look great, but cobwebs are forming in the checking account. It’s not a scenario you want to be in when the bills start coming in.
While some businesses can skirt around the problem with credit offers to customers, startups rarely find themselves able to do this.
That’s why it’s extra important to be sure you’re getting paid as early as possible. For those who use a variety of subscription-based tools, remember to take advantage of any discounts for long-term service that can improve your cash flow in the future.
When it comes time to pay invoices, delay them as long as possible if no early payment discount exists. This way, you can use the difference between collection and payment to throw towards growth investments.
3. Understanding accounting basics and reaching out to professionals
There’s no question you’ll have enough accounting work to keep you busy––the question is, do you understand it? Numbers and careful calculations aren’t everyone’s strong point and when you’re working under pressure, your chances of getting it wrong only increase.
For those that need extra assistance, it’s important to know which questions you’ll need to ask.
What kind of documents you’ll need to keep, what the purpose of them will be now and in the future, and what kind of liabilities might face are all questions that should be asked by those who aren’t well acquainted with bookkeeping.
If all of that is simply too much for you to handle along with the other parts of your business, outsourced accounting professionals are available to help pick up the slack.
For most startups, hiring outside help can be well worth it when compared to the potential losses possible when mistakes are made in-house.
If you’re a startup or small business owner interested in hiring an outsourced accountant, contact us. Our start-up accounting and CFO services experts can provide you with personal guidance.
Photo credit: Jono Haysom
Whether you’ve already launched your small business or are still in the planning stages, you’ve probably realized that time management plays a big part in ensuring tasks get completed when they need to be.
Particularly for those who are new to entrepreneurship and taking on multiple roles within the business, it can be easy to find yourself bogged down with internal processes that keep you from growing your business and moving forward with your ideas.
Reducing complexity and streamlining tasks is crucial for businesses big and small. One area of the business that can add constant complexity is bookkeeping.
Especially for young businesses struggling to get profitable, monitoring cash flow in and out of your company is one of the most important ways to make sure you’re operating on a successful business model.
Outsourcing these internal tasks to focus on your company’s growth can save you valuable time and effort and give you the assurance that your books are being managed by trained professionals.
Let’s explore 4 ways Madison, WI small businesses and startups can benefit from outsourcing their bookkeeping.
1. Time saving solution
Many entrepreneurs attempt to keep their business processes entirely internal, opting to manage their own books in-house. In reality, this can easily become a time-suck that takes time away from the principle aspects of the business.
Unless you’re starting an accounting business, playing this extra role is simply not an effective approach to managing your finances when professionals are available to lend their expertise instead.
2. Save money on operational costs
For most small businesses and startups, staffing a bookkeeper in-house is a completely unneeded expense that can put a big strain on payroll. When considering payroll tax expenses, insurance, retirement plans, along with training and salary, taking on a full-time bookkeeper is more than likely a poor investment.
Outsourced services provide the same level of professional bookkeeping and accounting while only costing you a regular retainer fee.
3. Catch errors you’d otherwise overlook
Startup and small business owners who take on too many roles at once can end up jeopardizing their ability to complete things in full by constantly rushing from task to task. Carefully weigh your ability to take on each role you place yourself in and consider other solutions for the tasks you know will put you over your head.
For those working with lean startup budgets, keeping your books updated regularly should be a top priority.
4. Expert advice and assistance
In addition to financial management, outsourcing your accounting and bookkeeping services also gives you access to trained accountants whenever questions arise––an especially big perk for those new to owning their own business.
In addition to helpful advice, professional accounting services can share resources and the personal expertise of a financial advisor who can provide a fresh, professional perspective on your business’ goals from an outsider’s point of view.
5. Achieve better piece of mind
Constantly maintaining your business’ financial records can be an extremely stressful endeavor, especially when compounded with the other parts of your business you need to keep track of on a daily or weekly basis.
Handing off your bookkeeping to accounting professionals takes the stress off of you and shifts the focus back onto expanding your business.
If you’re a small business or startup owner in Madison, WI and need assistance establishing a reliable bookkeeping system that takes the pressure off of you, contact us today. Our outsourced accounting and CFO service experts can help you accomplish a variety of accounting or bookkeeping tasks.
Photo credit: Matt Dente