As your business grows, you will naturally begin to have more work that you can reasonably handle by yourself. Before you run out to hire more employees, consider another cost-effective solution: Outsourcing.
Contrary to its negative connotation, outsourcing can be a really good thing. Many of the biggest tech companies, including Slack, Skype, and Box, attribute their success to the help of outsourced teams. Your company may not be as big or well-known as Skype, but the prevalence of technology has made outsourcing an accessible and often vital tool for small businesses looking to grow their bottom line. And unless you’re a math whiz and you actually enjoy it (which, less be honest, who does?), outsourcing your bookkeeping is a great way to test the waters.
Bookkeeping: Should I outsource it?
Outsourcing isn’t right for everybody, but when it comes to outsourcing your books, the perks are plentiful. If you’re in the decision-making phase, consider whether any of these might benefit your business:
- Saved time. Most likely, doing the books yourself takes you significantly longer than it would a professional. Taking them off your plate frees up your time to focus on the other aspects of your business where you can be most productive.
- Saved money. Sure, you could hire an in-house employee to take care of things, but employees come with many additional overhead costs—like payroll taxes, health insurance, and worker’s compensation. In reality, paying a freelancer to take care of your books will likely end up costing you less.
- Fewer mistakes. Even if you take the time to double and triple check your work, chances are, you’ll make mistakes if you’re trying to DIY your bookkeeping—mistakes a professional is significantly less likely to make.
- Scalability. When businesses ask for advice on what to outsource first, Laura Lee Sparks, CEO of outsourcing firm Legal Marketing Maven, always suggests outsourcing your bookkeeping. It’s a low-risk way to test outsourcing waters, and if it works well for your business, you can scale your team of contractors from there.
How to find a freelance bookkeeper
One-third of the U.S. workforce is made up of freelancers, meaning it isn’t difficult to find a freelancer or contractor to do your books. There are many ways to go about finding a freelance bookkeeper, but here are a few to get you started.
- Look within your network. Chances are, you know another small business owner that outsources his or her books. Ask around and see who your colleagues and friends recommend. A positive experience from someone you trust is often the best way to vet a freelancer.
- Search online. There are dozens of freelancer websites you can use to search for a bookkeeper. Many of these, like Upwork, also provide reviews for each freelancer and the opportunity to review past work and references. You can also search LinkedIn to find people in your area who match the skill set you’re looking for.
- Hire a local CPA. Search the Yellowpages or your local Google listings and then pick up the phone. Ask these local professionals for a quote and how much they charge for contract work. This is also a good option if you only need a temporary bookkeeper.
Tips for Outsourcing Success
Now that you’ve decided to start outsourcing your bookkeeping, keep these four guidelines in mind to find success in your new partnership:
- Mutual commitment: Meet regularly with your bookkeeper to be sure your priorities are in alignment and you understand each other’s expectations.
- Similar values: If promptness and honesty are very important to you and your business, make sure that your bookkeeper share those values, or you’ll both end up frustrated.
- Partnership: View your outsourced team members as partners in your company’s success, and afford them the same respect you want from them.
- Learn from failure: Outsourcing might not be perfectly easy in the beginning, but as mistakes happen, learn from them and strive to do better in the future.
Now that you’ve started outsourcing your bookkeeping, it’s time to start scaling. Check out our four commandments to hiring freelance writers for your website.