Learn how to hire a bookkeeper that will help improve your company’s finances so you can get back to running your business. By FINSYNC You look around, and suddenly your small business isn’t that small anymore. Maybe you have several employees, a big warehouse to manage, or a lot of online orders to tackle. Meanwhile, you’re spending all of your time managing the company’s books. The bottom line is you can’t do your own bookkeeping anymore. How do you find a bookkeeper that will take over the job as seamlessly as possible? We’ve got a few tips.
Map Out Your Bookkeeping NeedsIt isn’t always as easy as “I need someone to take care of my books.” Ask yourself what kind of services you want your bookkeeper to perform. Their responsibilities often stretch beyond simply keeping the books in order. Decide if you need help with:
- Bill pay
- Attention to Detail
- Good Communication Skills
- Experience in Your Industry
The Practical Aspects of Hiring a BookkeeperThere are several other things you need to figure out before hiring a bookkeeper. These considerations will make an easier transition when the bookkeeper starts working with your business.
Paperless OfficeIs your bookkeeper going to work remotely 100% of the time, or will they come into the office? Although the latter gives you some room to keep paper receipts at the bottom of your drawer, digitizing everything is the best option in the long run. Digital documents are easier to access, less likely to be lost or destroyed, and your team can access them from anywhere in the world. These days, both freelancers and firms encourage their clients to go paperless, so you might consider starting now.
SoftwareMake sure the bookkeeper you’re considering has experience working in your bookkeeping software. Each solution has its own processes and shortcuts that are important to keeping your books in order. The FINSYNC Network is full of professionals that are certified on FINSYNC’s all-in-one accounting software to ensure you have a smooth transition. Ultimately, the type of working relationship you have with your bookkeeper will depend on the size of your company, your plans for growth, the level of reporting you want, etc. Check out FINSYNC's network of vetted professionals to find a bookkeeper that’s right for your business.
The relationship you have with your bookkeeper is crucial to the success of your business. Follow these tips to learn how to best work with your new or existing bookkeeper. By FINSYNC Many small businesses grow to a point that DIY bookkeeping will no longer cut it. Hiring a bookkeeper can take many time-consuming tasks off of your plate, and provide financial expertise that can help your business grow. However, poor communication and processes can lead to confusion and added work for you. If you’re just starting to work with a bookkeeper or are looking to make your existing relationship more effective, make sure you’re getting the full value of your bookkeeper by following these best practices. Be Prepared for Every Meeting Prepare well before each meeting with your bookkeeper, especially if it’s the first meeting. That means organizing (and potentially digitizing) any receipts, letters, or other documents that you will hand over to your bookkeeper. Not only does this show respect for their time, it will save you money if you’re paying your bookkeeper by the hour. If you’re unsure what your bookkeeper needs, ask them. If you’ve been working with your bookkeeper for a while, set some time aside beforehand to go over any changes that happened in your business. This includes any planned changes or business development opportunities you’d like to pursue. We’ll talk in more detail about that later in the article.
Clear Communication is Key to work with your bookkeeperYour bookkeeper is the financial window into your business, so it’s crucial to communicate with them often. At the beginning of a working relationship, it’s best to meet face to face. If it’s not feasible because your bookkeeper works remotely, schedule video calls. Every two weeks is optimal. Once you’ve settled into a routine, you should meet with your bookkeeper at least once a month (virtually or in-person) to go over the monthly reports. If you have any questions, this is the time to ask them. A good bookkeeper should not only provide the reports but also teach you how to understand them. After a while, you should be able to work with the reports mostly on your own. In the previous section, we mentioned talking to your bookkeeper about what’s going on in your business. The most helpful tool you can use for this conversation is a business plan. If you communicate to your bookkeeper where your business is heading, the two of you can better discuss different scenarios and possible problems that might arise. Your bookkeeper can also help you focus on measuring the right KPIs (key performance indicators).
What Your Bookkeeper Should Deliver to YouExactly what you will need from your bookkeeper will depend on your company, but the most important reports that every bookkeeper should give to you at the end of the month are:
- Cash flow statement — shows how much has been spent and earned, plus a prognosis for the next three to six months
- Balance sheet — a snapshot of the financial situation at the end of the month
- Income statement — shows revenue and expenses for the month
- Monitoring fixed assets
- Overseeing company debt and compliance with debt agreements
- Preparing information for and assisting in the annual audit
- Making annual budgets
- Complying with local, state, and federal government reporting requirements
What Your Bookkeeper Needs From YouHere is what your bookkeeper needs from you in order to do their job in the best way possible:
- All incoming bills. This includes invoices from creditors, office supplies, insurance, utilities, equipment repairs and maintenance, etc. In other words, anything that your company has purchased on credit.
- Customer invoices. If your bookkeeper also does the invoicing for you, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you’ll need to provide them with any invoices you send to your customers.
- Any receipts for cash payments you’ve made in your company’s name.
- All of the details about salaries. This includes wages you’ve taken out for yourself and your staff, in addition to all time sheets.
- Bank statements for every account connected to your business. If you trust your bookkeeper, you can provide them with access to your bank to get the statements. Even if you connect your accounts to FINSYNC electronically, you’ll still want to provide PDF statements so that your bookkeeper can complete the account reconciliation.
- New lease and loan agreements, and updates on the existing ones.
Bookkeeper Linda Cappadona shares tips and recommendations for business owners getting started with bookkeeping. By FINSYNC If you’re like most small business owners, you probably don’t enjoy pulling monthly financial reports and managing things like payments and bank reconciliations. If you did enjoy these things, you probably would have opened an accounting firm. Nevertheless, managing your small business finances is something that you have to do if you want to stay in business. At FINSYNC, we’re committed to helping your small business succeed, and know how many business owners struggle with bookkeeping. We turned to Linda Cappadona, a bookkeeper in the FINSYNC Network, for bookkeeping tips and insight into the best ways to keep your business in the black. Don’t Neglect Bank and Credit Card Reconciliation Think of bank reconciliations as balancing your business checkbook. It’s how you verify that the funds going in and out of your bookkeeping solution coincide with the funds going in and out of your bank account. According to Linda, “The best place to start is by reconciling your bank and credit card accounts. That covers everything you’ve ever done because everything feeds either through a bank account or credit card. If you can do that, it gives you a really good sense of where your money is going.” Start from your beginning balance and reconcile to the end of the month, every month. If the closing balance in your accounting software doesn’t match the closing balance of your bank account, then you need to find out why and make a correction. If you don’t conduct bank and credit card reconciliations, you won't be able to discover what’s causing the discrepancy and fix it. Build a Payments Rhythm The second rule of small business bookkeeping is to build a payments rhythm. Don’t push data-entry and reconciliation tasks off because it’s tedious and time-consuming. It’s crucial that you review your books at least once a week. It can help to set recurring calendar events and automate processes wherever you can. One way to build a payments rhythm is to automate your bookkeeping to ensure your books are always up-to-date. If you fall behind on bookkeeping, your books can quickly become a mess and problems can become more difficult to untangle. At the very least, make sure you always keep accurate and consistent records. “Before a bookkeeper comes on board, if you aren’t reconciling your transactions and bank accounts, you need to keep good records,” says Linda. “When you start a new business and are moving in a hundred different directions, that can be difficult.” Make a Category for “Ask My Accountant” Once you have an accountant on your payroll, it’s important that you utilize them. Make a category for “ask my accountant” and keep them busy with questions. It’s a good idea to file any items you aren’t sure of into this “ask my accountant” category as they come up so they don’t slow you down when making payments or running reconciliations. Then, at the end of the month (or sooner) you can bring all of your questions to your accountant’s attention to get the answers you need and broaden the conversation as to how you can mitigate inefficiencies and improve your business finances. Hire a Bookkeeper At some point, your books will become too complicated and time consuming for you to handle. A pro can help you categorize, process bank reconciliations, prepare sales invoices, enter purchase invoices and help you choose the right accounting software for your business. Most importantly, a professional bookkeeper will understand what is legal, what is taxable, and how to organize your accounting solution to maximize efficiency. Researching and learning these things yourself can quickly consume all of your time. According to Linda, “Trust is the main reason business owners are gun shy of hiring a bookkeeper.” She advises business owners to get references, only hire from a reputable company, and don’t hire the cheapest person out there. “Remember, a good, ethical, trustworthy bookkeeper can streamline your business and monitor your spending habits while keeping an eye out for fraud or unusual activity, and in turn ultimately save you money,” she says. FINSYNC’s Virtual Assistance Network is staffed by skilled bookkeeping professionals like Linda Cappadona, whose role it is to help you keep your books on track and improve cash flow management. Tapping an independent financial professional through FINSYNC’s network can help your business run more efficiently without sharply increasing your labor costs or investing time to go through a lengthy employee search. Choose The Right Bookkeeping Software The key to selecting bookkeeping software that will provide the greatest benefit to your business is finding a software that takes a centralized approach to payments and helps you manage cash flow with less time, effort and cost to your business. FINSYNC is the only all-in-one payments platform that can help you keep your business finances in sync, centralize control of cash flow, and connect you with the right financial professional at the right time. “FINSYNC has a really good platform for projects,” says Linda, adding, “I actually like the FINSYNC platform better than QuickBooks.” “A business owner can easily get on the FINSYNC platform and see where everything is,” says Linda. “They can see where their money is going, where they need to cut back, and they can access reports such as Profit and Loss and Balance Sheets. As a business owner, that is what you should be focusing on.” If you’d like to get more advice on bookkeeping for beginners or see how a bookkeeper can use FINSYNC to help improve your business, connect to the FINSYNC Network.
Learn how to leverage cash flow analytics, brand your business as an expert advisor and deliver real value to your customers in a more strategic, advisory role. By FINSYNC Thanks to sophisticated Fintech software like FINSYNC, repetitive tasks like data entry have become virtually obsolete. Accountants and bookkeepers can stay relevant, win new business and strengthen their brand by offering new, more strategic and value-added services. Cash flow advisory services are a major opportunity for you to position your business as a partner and financial expert that your clients can rely on for services that tap into your technical knowledge and ultimately provide valuable insight. Why Cash Flow Advisory? If your accounting or bookkeeping business has been around for a long time, data entry, reconciliations and other repetitive tasks were likely a big part of the services you offered in the early days of your business. More strategic services like cash flow advisory were probably reserved for when your clients had sudden fires they needed help putting out. Now, integrated Fintech software helps businesses streamline and automate many of these more routine accounting services. The benefit of integrating payroll, invoicing and other administrative tasks is the data that comes out of it. Analytics and projections provide insight for cash flow management, payment schedules and long-term planning. This opens up an opportunity for more proactive cash flow advisement that can help your clients make better decisions for their overall business growth. As a financial professional, you have valuable access to client data and a wealth of experience from which to draw insights. Cash flow advisory allows you to put those skills to use in more strategic ways now that the industry is shifting away from tasks that can be automated. The data that your clients’ Fintech solutions generate allows you to start conversations around better financial management, and helps you sell your expertise before potential problems arise. Cash Flow Advisory Services to Focus On Based on your experience and the data that you have access to, consider which cash flow advisory services would be right for your business. These choices will help you determine how to brand your bookkeeping or accounting business to reach new and existing clients looking for more strategic accounting help. Consider the issues that your current clients are facing. What services would they benefit from the most? Here are some of the best opportunities available to you:
- Cash Flow Forecasting: Annual or periodic forecasting is a great way to learn from past business trends and add consistent value by helping your clients stay ahead of any potential cash flow issues.
- Cash Flow Management: For shorter periods when cash flow may be a higher priority, or during specific projects that put a strain on finances, helping your clients manage their cash flow can be an invaluable service.
- Opportunity-Based Cash Flow Projections: Running projections for specific scenario planning such as capital expenditures, hiring and more can present your clients with options when making critical business decisions.
Integrated software that syncs up a client’s accounts gives business advisors a leg up with valuable insights that can help a business grow and prosper. By FINSYNC It's never been easier to pay bills, stay on top of accounts and even get access to credit. Innovations in financial services applications are not only making transactions faster and more transparent, they also make it possible for users to organize and view data from various types of accounts, providing valuable insights about what an individual, or business, does with their money. The growth of Fintech is driving this trend. The nexus of technology and financial services can be a game-changer for business advisers. These new and powerful tools can deliver an accurate, comprehensive, real-time view of a client’s financial health, and give them the means to glean valuable insights that can help them save money and chart a more profitable course. Beyond Accounting Software Businesses typically rely on off-the-shelf accounting software that churns out a fairly limited, if useful, set of details about their books. Their bookkeeper or other accounting professional will generate month-end snapshots such as an income statement and balance sheet. This is essentially a backward-looking snapshot of a business, offering a limited path toward a more forward-looking, strategic outlook. Business advisors generally work with this baseline to provide counsel on how their client can better manage their finances. Here's where the new class of Fintech solutions can make a big difference. When businesses use integrated, cloud-based software to manage all of their finances, they open the door to proactive work such as mapping out a big-picture strategy, an area where a business advisor can really add value. The key is in linking the digital platforms used to handle everything from making payments and processing payroll, to automating invoicing and tracking employee work hours. This integration makes it possible to analyze data from the various components of the business in a way that yields more thorough, intelligent business forecasting. Consider the task of cash flow analysis. A business advisor can more easily and accurately forecast a business' cash flow when the firm uses integrated financial software. This type of approach provides an up-to-the-moment view of a company's payables including payroll and receivables, and can be used to automate tasks like invoicing and bill payments in order to maximize available cash ahead of expenses, such as payroll or an essential purchase of supplies. The result is something every business can use more of: strategic flexibility. Valuable Insights, Better Outcomes Armed with more useful accounting data, business advisors are likely to offer more valuable insights, such as identifying whether a marketing campaign is justifying its cost, or which products or services the company should focus on to maximize sales in the next year. Business advisors can also glean valuable insights when a small business client connects their payroll system with project profitability software. This enables them to offer clients both short-term advice and long-term advice, such as “you’re overbudget on phase 1 of your project,” or “you’re not adequately covering the cost of your transportation needs.” Not Just for Clients An integrated system like FINSYNC's financial platform connects a business' financial transactions in one place automatically, which can help business advisors build projections that translate into more profitable decisions for their clients. Fintech software can also help business advisors manage their own business, while handling their client-facing tasks more quickly and efficiently. A recent study by Schwab Advisory Services found that nearly 60% of independent financial advisory firms planned to invest in new technology this year. Digitized, cloud-based software like FINSYNC connects advisors to their clients easily, making it a snap to share charts and other presentation elements remotely. There's also little to no need for manual data entry. Spending less time on tasks that can be automated means more time available for business development activity. As we close in on the start of a new decade, the wave of Fintech innovations that's transforming business is expected to continue growing. Last year alone, global, venture capital-backed Fintech funding jumped more than twofold to $40.3 billion, from $18.3 billion a year earlier, according to CB Insights. The trend increases the likelihood that an integrated, software-led approach to managing finances will be more widely adopted by small businesses eager to remain competitive and save money — and that’s good news for business advisors tasked with the job of guiding them to a brighter future.
Most businesses are born from a great product or service and strong leadership. Unfortunately, many fail because of poor finances. Companies that struggle with cash flow, delayed vendor or employee payments, or mismanaged bookkeeping understand the importance of a company’s financial health. Still, six out of ten small business owners have not consulted with a financial advisor, according to a study by The American College. Small business owners that handle all the back-office tasks themselves often feel that financial analysis should remain their responsibility as they grow. In fact, the longer your company operates or the larger it gets, the more difficult you’ll find it to manage your finances without seeking outside help. The 40% of small businesses that seek expert financial advice benefit from a second set of eyes that can help take tasks off of their plate and free up time to plan for long-term growth. Unsure if your business has reached a point where it will benefit from a financial advisor? Consider these three benefits: Reclaim Valuable Time As a small business owner, you expect to wear many hats — especially in the early stages of your company's growth. However, when you start to get pulled in too many different directions, other areas of your business often begin to suffer. If you’re spending too much time on accounting and finances, it may be time for a change. Your time is too valuable for simple bookkeeping and accounting tasks. While integrated cash flow management, accounting and payroll software will go a long way to help you streamline the management of your company’s finances, problem solving and personalized planning require the insight of an expert financial analyst. As your business grows, your financial concerns will also grow more complex. If you didn’t have time before, you certainly don’t have time to gain the financial expertise necessary to deal with these new challenges. Instead, your time should be spent focusing on what you do best for your business. Benefit from a Wider Experience Set The problems your business may face will often require expert guidance from someone with a deep understanding of the common financial pitfalls that frequently confront small businesses. A qualified financial analyst is backed by years of experience working with a variety of different businesses that have experienced a vast array of challenges. This wider experience set will help the financial expert see things that you can’t, and suggest creative solutions to your problems. Having a second, objective set of eyes for your financials can also help you find new solutions to problems, or help improve expenses in ways you didn’t see before. Plan for Your Financial Future The most important benefit of expert financial advice is the ability to plan for your company’s future. Once you aren’t spending time doing your own accounting and you have the benefit of expert advice, you can make use of:
- Projections What are your objectives for the next 3-5 years, and how do you plan to reach them? Having accurate financial projections on your business growth is a major step to turning your business goals into real, measurable objectives with a clear timeline for success. Knowing the true financial health of your business and the likelihood of meeting your goals will help you put together a realistic, attainable plan for your future.
- Market Insights The decisions you make for your business can be greatly affected by how the overall market will perform in the next few years. A financial analyst can provide insights into what the rest of the market is doing and what other companies in your industry or similar industries are doing to prepare for any possible market fluctuations.
- Formal Financial Plan How will you transition your business to a new owner? Do you plan to sell your business or pass it on to a family member? Having a formal financial plan for how to manage income and expenses during a transition, and how to set yourself up for retirement is extremely important. A financial expert can help you with your exit planning to make sure you and the business are in good financial shape when that time comes.
Is your small business ready for a bookkeeper? Here are five signs that your financials have grown too complicated or time-consuming for your existing team (which may just be you). By FINSYNC Small business owners pride themselves on minimizing costs and bootstrapping their way to success, often by taking on many of the business roles themselves. If you often wear the hats of the CFO, CMO, COO and a number of other positions, you know exactly what we’re talking about. However, at some point your organization will likely get too big for you and your team to handle everything. When it comes to managing your books, knowing the right time to hire a bookkeeper can go a long way towards the future financial success of your business. While it can be stressful as you grow and bring in more help, failing to do so could end up costing you a lot more in the long run. Is it time for your small business to hire a bookkeeper? Here are five signs you should look for to determine if the timing is right:
Spending Too Much Time on BookkeepingIf you’re still handling all of the bookkeeping yourself, it can quickly start to take up a large portion of your time. Not sure? Use a time tracking app to determine exactly how much time you and other employees are spending on bookkeeping. This is time being pulled away from other tasks that are critical to your business success. Your time is more valuable than the cost of a professional bookkeeper. Once you get to the point where a significant percent of your time is spent on an easily delegated task — delegate it.
Your Books Are BehindUnfortunately, many small businesses fall into a hole where nobody is regularly maintaining the books. This may result in your bookkeeping being months or even an entire year behind. The consequences and symptoms are significant for your company:
- Unclear Profit Margins If you don’t know how much money you’re making or spending, you aren’t able to make important decisions about the direction of your business. Many companies see their revenue increase but their profits stay the same because they’re unable to properly analyze and manage their profit margins.
- Unpredictable Cash Flow Not having a full awareness of your profits and losses makes it difficult to accurately predict cash flow. This makes it more likely that you could miss payroll or fail to pay vendors on time.
- Trouble with Collections A professional bookkeeper can keep an eye on your accounts receivable to make sure you’re getting paid on time. If you’re behind on your books, you could go months without realizing that an invoice is overdue.
Taxes are Becoming More WorkSeveral clear symptoms of mismanaged financials or outdated books come about when tax season rolls around. Ideally, you should be able to hand over the year’s financials to your accountant, immediately file your taxes, and receive your refund. Without a bookkeeper, your taxes may require much more work. You’re likely to find yourself working a lot more with your accountant to piece together a year’s worth of books in order to get enough information together to file. Paying estimated taxes can also become impossible when you don’t have an up-to-date view of your quarterly financials.
Limited Ability to Make High-Level Business DecisionsAs a business owner, you must be able to make decisions to help grow your company and move it forward. Without a complete, updated view of your company’s financial health, you may be forced to act blindly. On the other hand, if you’re spending all of your time keeping your books up-to-date, you’re limiting your ability to spend time on big picture decision making. A bookkeeper can free up your time while providing you the insights necessary to make informed decisions that help your business grow.
Budget-Friendly BookkeepingAre you in the habit of handing all of your expense reports and invoices to your accountant at the end of the year so they can manage your books? You may be spending more than necessary for bookkeeping. CPAs will generally charge much more for bookkeeping services than you would pay a professional bookkeeper. Luckily, it’s not difficult to find an affordable bookkeeper — or accountant — that fits your business needs. If your company isn’t ready to hire a full-time employee to handle your books, consider hiring a freelance financial professional. FINSYNC’s Virtual Assistance Network pairs you with a qualified and vetted bookkeeper that suits your business’ needs. If you’ve seen any of the above signs in your business, it may be time to take a look.
From flexibility to rising pay, independent skilled professionals have much to gain from businesses’ increasing reliance on virtual assistance. By FINSYNC The internet, automation and other technological innovations are reshaping the global economy, causing no shortage of displacement for companies and their employees. But through this wave of change, one thing is clear: companies have a need for a growing variety of highly skilled workers, and they're increasingly turning to virtual assistance — hiring independent contractors who work remotely. For independent workers who can handle the typical trade-offs involved — namely, zero health benefits, no vacation or paid sick days — there is a growing marketplace for employment that allows for work-life balance and flexibility, valuable benefits in their own right. Some 64% of freelance workers opt to work on a contract basis because it allows them to organize work around their life, according to a report from staff outsourcing company Kelly Services. Rolling with the Changes Employers are increasingly relying on virtual assistance as a way to hedge against an uncertain global economy that's being swiftly reshaped by massive technological changes. This strategy enables businesses to quickly bolster the effectiveness of their workforce without sharply increasing their labor costs or going through a lengthy employee search. The bottom line is contract workers cost less money, posing less of an overhead risk for companies. As industries adapt to the changes wrought by automation and other technological trends, their need for skilled workers in these and other emerging areas is growing — and showing no signs of slowing. Some 65% of executives say their external workforce of freelance hires is essential for operating at full capacity and meeting demand, according to a report by MBO Partners. Flexibility, Freedom & More Independent contractors who work remotely enjoy many benefits. Working on a freelance basis allows hires to set their own hours, enabling them to design their schedule to fit the demands of family life. They can also determine how long of a contract they want to sign. It could be one month or three, or for as long as it takes to complete a specific project. Independent contractors are also free to make it a one-off and move on to some other opportunity. Virtual assistance is being embraced by many companies, who are using freelancers to fill in for permanent employees or to bolster their ranks when tackling big projects. Increasingly, freelance workers are also being hired to do jobs remotely as companies rely more on cloud-storage services, email and online communications platforms like Slack that allow workers to collaborate in real time, regardless of how much distance separates them. That helps reduce the company's cost for leasing office space, computers, furniture and other expenses. Freelancers, meanwhile, get the freedom to live anywhere they choose, giving them more control over how much they spend on housing, food and other costs. One key advantage of working remotely as an independent professional is being spared a daily commute to the office. On average, Americans spend 26.4 minutes commuting each way to work, according to the U.S. Census' 2017 American Community Survey. Working from home also means a lot less wear and tear on cars and clothing. Another big draw to freelance work: The pay is getting better. Roughly 18% of U.S. freelancers earned between $75,000 and $99,999 annually last year, up from 9% in 2014, according to a report from Upwork. And some 10% earned $100,000 to $149,000, up from 5% in 2014. Being an independent contractor can also provide more opportunity for workers to expand their skills by enabling them to work around the time they need to take university courses or certification programs. Greater Access Through Technology The advent of high-speed internet, cloud computing and online collaboration platforms have helped pave the way for virtual assistance in recent years. More Americans are getting in on the action, taking on work as remote, independent workers. Some 56.7 million Americans, or more than a third of all U.S. employees, freelanced in 2018, according to a study commissioned by Upwork and the Freelancers Union. That's a 7% increase from 2014. A surge in companies operating websites and apps geared to connecting freelance workers with employers is making it easier for contract workers to find jobs. Among these are Upwork, Freelancer, and Zirtual, among others. FINSYNC's virtual community of specialists connects businesses with independent skilled professionals who provide unrivaled support for bookkeeping, accounting, human capital management, financial analysis and corporate strategy. Finding clients through a network like FINSYNC makes it easy for skilled professionals to connect with high-quality employers, saving significant time and outreach efforts to land valuable jobs. The best part? It’s free for both parties to join the network and see if they find the right fit.
By FINSYNC Sometimes it's the small changes that can make the biggest difference. For small and mid-size businesses, this often plays out in how you handle one of the most important tasks of managing a company: the hiring process. Let's be honest, finding a person who is not only qualified but also the best fit for your company's needs and culture — and who is eager to accept the position at a compensation level that you both find agreeable — is not easy. Far from it. Much of the stress and difficulty in this process stems from the high stakes that come with mounting a search to fill a full-time, permanent position. The last thing a business owner wants is to go through the considerable cost and time investment involved in hiring someone and have the process end with an ill-fitting hire. Fortunately, there is a more efficient alternative. Much of the risk and potential for missteps that can occur during a traditional hiring process are minimized or rendered moot through the use of virtual assistance. This growing trend benefits businesses in ways that really matter, namely by preserving your bottom line and saving you time. Virtual assistance involves relying on skilled professionals who work remotely and, typically, on a freelance basis. This strategy enables businesses to quickly bolster the effectiveness of their workforce without sharply increasing their labor costs or going through a lengthy employee search. Advances in technology are transforming how people communicate and collaborate on projects. Working with an employee who is in a different location is now a seamless and cost-effective option. One of the great benefits of virtual assistance is that the most qualified person for the job could be in another time zone, another country or across town and it doesn't matter. Hire Effortlessly Going through the traditional hiring process to fill a full-time, in-house job is the opposite of easy, especially for small businesses. In a survey by Wasp Barcode Technologies of more than 1,100 small U.S. businesses, half said hiring new employees was their biggest challenge. Among the reasons, smaller companies tend to have limited human resources staff and also less time to engage in a lengthy candidate search. Finding a qualified employee through the use of virtual assistance has become easier in recent years amid an explosion of online companies that connect freelance workers with employers. These include Upwork, Freelancer and Zirtual, among others. Sites like Upwork are set up so that workers compete to bid on available jobs, often by agreeing to do the job for less pay or in less time than other applicants. Some platforms also incorporate tools for employers to keep tabs on the progress the independent worker is making on their assigned task, tying pay to project milestones. FINSYNC's virtual community of specialists provides businesses with unrivaled support for bookkeeping, accounting, human capital management, financial analysis and corporate strategy. Businesses can maximize their resources and support growth by tapping into this growing pool of virtual support professionals. Save Money Perhaps the biggest benefit that virtual assistance offers businesses is big savings relative to the cost of a traditional hire. Virtual assistance enables employers to call in extra help without having to find space in their budget to add another full-time employee. And because they work remotely, that helps reduce the company's cost for leasing office space, computers, furniture and other expenses. The cadre of online portals used to connect virtual assistants and employers are a less expensive method to finding a new hire than the traditional path, which often involves spending money on recruitment and training. In addition, not having to pay for health insurance coverage, paid vacation days and other benefits that companies typically offer full-time hires is probably the biggest source of savings that companies reap from relying on virtual assistance. Benefits alone account for more than 31.4% of the average full-time employee's total compensation, according to data from the U.S. Labor Department. Boost Capacity When It's Needed the Most One of the unique benefits of using virtual assistance is the flexibility it offers businesses. Are you scrambling to finish a last-minute project in an area where your current workforce isn't so strong? Virtual assistance enables businesses to quickly increase their workforce with skilled professionals who can provide the support needed to deliver the job. Once the project is over, you no longer need to hang on to the extra help. It's all about getting the help you need, and only as long as you need it. Many companies are going beyond one-off projects and relying upon virtual assistance to permanently fill gaps in their workforce. Some 65% of executives say their external workforce is essential for operating at full capacity and meeting demand, according to a report by MBO Partners. Optimize Company Finances Sometimes a skilled outsider's viewpoint can help businesses see where their financial management is lacking. Having discipline and objectivity about finances can be a challenge for small business owners who may have taken on a job ordinarily handled by an accountant or bookkeeper. That approach opens the door to problems once the company begins to grow and its finances become more complex. Tight hiring budgets may persuade small business owners to handle bookkeeping and similar tasks on their own, but a far better option is to use virtual assistance. Enlisting a virtual bookkeeper or virtual accountant to handle bill payments, invoicing and other transactions frees managers to focus on other areas of their business. And isn't that when business owners do their best work? Tap into FINSYNC’s virtual assistance network to be matched with a skilled financial professional that’s best suited to help your business grow.