Many small business owners tend to keep accounts management in-house in a bid to cut costs, retain control and ensure compliance. However, the time that a small business owner spends on accounts could be better-utilised focused on business development and sales. Even if you hold an accounting qualification, do you have the time to ensure to keep up with legislative changes and best practices?
Outsourcing your accounting tasks to the right accountant or accountancy firm can actually save your business a lot of time and money. The key, however, is to choose the "right" accounting vendor for your business. Given their role in what is a crucial element of your business, your accountant needs to serve as an effective partner for your business.
There are a number of elements that you need to consider when outsourcing your accounts:
Ask the right questions
When choosing an accountant or an accountancy firm, ensure to ask questions like:
- What will my bookkeeping responsibilities be once you’ve taken over?
- Do I need to provide documents/figures to you on a monthly basis? If so, which ones?
- Can you provide a line by description of services included in the monthly fee?
- Is a contract required or is month-to-month billing accepted?
- If there’s a mistake with my bookkeeping, what do I need to do?
- What knowledge do you have in managing accounts for my specific industry?
Do your research
Ensure to research the reputation of your proposed accountant or accountancy firm. Ask for proof of qualifications and request the details of references to call. Look for online reviews or discussions around the accountant or their practice. If a candidate shows any reluctance or hesitance in your reasonable request for proof of qualification or references, walk away!
Outsourcing should serve to save your business money. It can save you from the cost of hiring an internal bookkeeper as well as the cost of accounting software. The fees quoted should not be your sole basis for choosing a particular accountant or firm. The money you will save on a cheaper provider will mean nothing if you have to deal with bookkeeping headaches due to things being done incorrectly. After all, experienced bookkeepers can do the job faster and more accurately, which could save you a lot of money in the long run.
Will your accountant be available out of hours in the case of an emergency? Can they facilitate weekly or monthly meetings in person? Consider your need for availability - some accountants may only be available on a certain day or after 5pm if they hold another role.
In a world where cyber security is an everyday threat, you should look to outsource your accounts to a provider who has a tight data security strategy in place. Should your financial data be leaked, it could damage your business reputation and upset your clients. Ensure to discuss data security with any vendors that you speak to and ask for copy of their policy. Outsourcing your accounts to a reputable provider who has a solid cyber security strategy in place can ensure great piece of mind.
Outsourcing your accounts can turn out to be a very smart move for your business. However, in order to reap the fruits of this decision, it is imperative to choose the right provider for your business. Take your time, do your research and consider all aspects...not just costs!