Article provided by The Pharsyde Accounting
Entrepreneurs start a business because of a passion. You have a skill and you grasp the opportunity to turn your passion into a source of income. The problem is that running a business comes with a lot of admin and horribly boring details that most people don’t expect. It doesn’t take too long for the once-excited entrepreneur to end up bogged down in details that bore him to tears.
Acknowledging the need for help is one thing but knowing what kind you need or where to find it is another. Do you hire a PA? Do you employ a bookkeeper? Do you employ a sales person? Or do you outsource to an agency or an accounting firm? First and foremost, though, comes the question: Can I afford it?
When your business is small and you’re still growing, every cent is going towards your survival. Having to pay someone else is a terrifying prospect. You don’t have a bundle of cash to hand over to a secretary, sales person or a bookkeeper every month.
The good news is that you don’t actually have to outsource an entire function in order to ease your personal burden.
Sure, it would be great to hand your monthly bookkeeping over to an accountant and never have to worry about it again, but if freeing up that time results in increased financial stress it might just not be worth it. Rather try freeing up your time in lots of little ways first:
Get on top of your planning
Not everyone can afford a PA, but there are fabulous time-management and task-management apps available that help you to stay on top of your schedules and workload without one. The best part is that many of them are completely free. A good task-management app like Asana enables you to get a bird’s eye-view of your workload every morning. There are multiple ways to display tasks so you can customise the tool to fit you. Taking five minutes every morning to orientate yourself and schedule your tasks will make a huge difference to how you use your time in the day.
Take your bookkeeping onto the cloud
There are many online options available these days for the small business owner who does their own accounts. What makes them all incredibly worthwhile are their built-in time-saving benefits. A reputable online accounting service will offer the following: automatic bank feeds, snap and upload of receipts, and recurring invoice settings. These functions are amazing and save more time than you can imagine.
Don’t set it up yourself
Online accounting programs may come with wonderful time-saving benefits, but, not if you don’t set them up correctly. My advice as an accountant is to get a bookkeeper or an accountant who is familiar with the program to help you set it up. If any of the automatic functions or accounts are set up incorrectly, the time-saving benefits during the year translate into year-end tears at tax-time. Rather pay someone a small set-up fee rather than end up having to pay them a huge fix-it fee.
Get domestic help
It is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to try and save costs at home as well as in their business. We’ll “just” do the housework on the weekend and save ourselves some cash. Businesses are like children. You think you have planned for every eventuality and then it turns out that they have a way of taking up a lot more of your time and energy than you ever thought possible and suddenly the laundry basket is overflowing and the dishes are piling up along with your sense of inadequacy. If you can’t afford a full-time domestic, get one to come in once a week. A domestic once a week costs a lot less than employing a secretary, and you still have to do your own paperwork, but you now have an extra three to four hours a week to do it in.
Involve the family
A supportive family is vital to the success of an entrepreneur. Building a business is hard, you need people behind you to lift you up and help you through the tough times. And if they are willing to give you emotional support, there is a good chance they will be willing to give you physical support too. Your kids can’t do sales or accounting for you, but they can help you file your paperwork. Your spouse or sibling can temporarily take over your portion of chores or help you ferry children around. Do not be too scared or too proud to tell your family that you need them, they love it.
Get the right tools
If a part-time domestic is out of the question, buy a dishwasher. You will be amazed at how the ten minutes a day that you spend on dishes suddenly makes a difference to your life. Make sure that your computer has the right computing power – a constantly freezing laptop not only wastes your time it also shreds your sanity. A new laptop is a once-off purchase that saves you time monthly without costing the same as hiring a permanent staff member. Analyze the areas in your life – business and personal – where you are wasting time because you have the wrong tools and replace them with the ones you need.
Arrange a carpool for your kids
Band together with other busy parents and take turns in ferrying the kids to and from school. Not only will your fuel costs go down, you now only have to do the run once a week instead of five times.
Use a service
If a carpool isn’t an option, then consider one of the many mom-taxi services available. Yes, they come with a cost, but that cost is not as high as hiring full-time help and still frees up a good few hours for you per week.
Hire a nanny
The parent who works from home often ends up with the responsibility of “keeping an eye” on the kids in the afternoon. If you have the time, then this is one of the benefits of working for yourself. But when time is a precious resource, having to juggle work and kids will lead to sleepless nights and tears. Rather spend the money on an afternoon au-pair and just join them when you have the afternoon off.
Keep your kids busy
If a nanny is not an option, consider enrolling your kids in more extra-murals. Children’s brains are hungry for knowledge and growth. Adding extra activities to their roster such as horse-riding or violin lessons will not only take advantage of this growth stage and benefit them later in life, it also adds an extra working hour per day to your schedule.
Upgrade your internet connection
As with upgrading your computer, upgrading your internet can literally be life-changing. Perhaps it only shaves 30 seconds off your wait-time for a website – but if your business relies on internet research and you load 50-100 websites a day, you just saved 25 to 50 minutes a day – nearly 4 hours a week. Even if you don’t have to load a hundred websites a day, the world has gone digital. Waiting for a slow connection for every transaction is time that can be won back with a simple internet upgrade.
Use a virtual PA
If you can’t afford a full-time secretary, just use a virtual one. There are many people offering admin services on an ad hoc basis. You can outsource a single monthly function you don’t enjoy, like phoning debtors for money, or you can send them ad hoc work as it arises.
Trying one or all of the above can end up adding hours to your week, all the while costing a fraction of what it would cost to fully outsource a business function. So, if cash is tight, don’t despair and continue doing it all alone. Identify things can be handed to someone else, no matter how small the task it still frees up your time to focus on something you love instead.
Tamryn Dicks is a SAIBA Business Accountant and a SAIT Tax Practitioner. Her company, Pharsyde Accounting, offers solutions to small business owners in South Africa. She is passionate about her subject to the point that she tends to give away advice for free – so if you have something worrying you, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!