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.