Being a solo professional or even an SME can be a lonely business, particularly when you’re starting off. You often find yourself immersed, beavering away in your tiny bubble, often oblivious to the outside world. In the early days of your business, this is perfectly natural. After all, there’s so much to do and most of it has to be done by – guess who? You!
Doing it all
In the first year or two, particularly if your start-up capital is limited (and it always is), you’ll find yourself doing everything yourself – your marketing, your sales, your website, scheduling your appointments – even, though we’d never recommend this – doing your accounts and bookkeeping! All this and there’s your actual job of work. I never fail to be impressed at the dedication, enterprise and sheer hard work shown by today’s entrepreneurs.
But – doing-it-all-yourself, though perhaps a cost-saving virtue in the early days of a new business, can become an unhealthy habit. We become used to burning that midnight oil, day after day, week after week. We think that this low-cost way of running a business is the only way forward.
Bad for business and bad for you
Of course, this is a sad delusion. Working hard definitely isn’t the same as working smart. By slaving away every hour of the day and night, our enthusiasm gets worn down, our business passion becomes dulled. We become ground down and demoralised. In the end, we become simply not-very-good at what we do. Doing-it-all-yourself is bad for your business and bad for you.
Outsourcing – When? What? Who?
The truth is that, for our business to grow and succeed, we need to look after ourselves – remain bright-eyed and bushy-tailed eager beavers. We need to keep our focus on what we’re good at, what we love doing. We should leave the rest, the essential drudgery, to the experts. We’re, of course, talking about out-sourcing.
The difficulty with out-sourcing is knowing
- When to outsource?
- What to outsource?
- Who to outsource to?
As soon as you can possibly afford it. Doing everything yourself is an unfortunate necessity in the early days. But, by carrying out every business operation yourself, one thing is certain. You won’t be doing it well. And the result? Your business will suffer. When business starts to come in, try to resist the temptation to reward yourself. Instead, reward your business. Release it from those shackles. Let it breathe. Let it grow. Invest in the expertise of others.
No surprises here. A fully-qualified bookkeeper or accountant! What else did you expect? A knowledgeable accountant will help you in so many areas. Not just the usual accountancy essentials, but a good pro-active accountant will be your business ‘friend’ – an invaluable support and guide in helping you to decide which other parts of your business you should outsource. And here’s the key. Your accountant will also be able to answer the question …
It’s unlikely that you’ll be your accountant’s only client. (Maybe, if you find out you are, you should choose again!). They will, of course, be working for all kinds of businesses, maybe in all kinds of sectors. And this is where they will really come into their own. Think about it. All those contacts. All that expertise. And all you have to do is ask. By the very nature of their work, your accountant will be extensively networked. Let’s say that you decide it’s time you had a smart new website. There’s every chance that your accountant will know several web designers and will be able to point you towards the one who would be the best fit for your business.
There’s another dimension to your accountant’s extensive contacts list. As a conscientious accountant, they’ll be aware of many of their clients’ needs and challenges. They may well be able to refer your products or services to one of them.
Spreading the net
We’ve been discussing your accountant’s client list as a form of ‘network’. But this could spread way beyond their client base. These days, most accountants are seasoned networkers. They attend regular meetings, often over breakfast, lunch, or even in the evenings. Your accountant will be attending these events, not so that they can just push their dog-eared business cards into the hands of potential clients. The purpose of a diligent and successful networker is to help themselves by helping others. They’ll be asking people they meet, ‘What can I do to help you?’. They develop a reputation for being a ‘friendly expert’ – someone who it’s good to know.
As part of all this networking activity, they’ll have you in mind – especially if you tell them about your ideal client. Ask them to keep their antennae alert and twitching on your behalf. Better still – get networking yourself. The rewards can be enormous – and it can be fun! Ask your accountant to recommend the best networking groups in your area for your type of business. Focus on using your networking activity to help others and in no time … you’ll be reaping the reward.
So, find yourself a bookkeeper or accountant who will be your financial friend – someone who has your interests at heart, who will proactively work with you – helping with those tricky outsourcing decisions and really set your business on the upward path!
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*Article in The Cut 2017