When you start a business, it’s natural to take on many different responsibilities and wear multiple hats. And, once you’re in the habit of doing everything yourself, it can be tough to relinquish that level of control. Still, at some point, it makes sense to bring in outside professional help for certain tasks. Not doing so can leave you vulnerable to mistakes an expert would catch and prevent. Handing over these tasks can also free you up to get back to your most important goal: growing your business.
Here are the three areas within your business where you may want to consider getting professional help—along with some guidelines for knowing when to bite the bullet.
A lot of businesses have employees. And as your business grows and hires more people, your human resources situation becomes more complex. Every new employee comes with a set of tasks someone needs to manage. They include everything from training to delivering performance reviews. Details like employee manuals and compliance soon become things you can’t ignore, and they take time, energy, and know-how to manage.
There are also legal implications in most HR decisions, from making a full-time offer to hiring an intern, to a layoff. If you aren’t familiar with the range of employment laws in both your state and federal government, you run the risk of making a mistake that could cost you time, money, and emotional stress. The last thing a business owner needs is a day in court arguing a worker’s comp claim or in an arbitration hearing for an ex-employee who feels they were let go for illegal reasons. Add to that the changing regulations around health and other benefits, and you have a host of legal minefields you probably want to avoid.
There’s no set staff size for knowing when it’s time to bring in HR help—it could be three employees, or it could be 10. Hiring in-house HR is one option, though it’s not the only option. Many businesses turn to HR outsourcing companies; they handle compliance and risk management for all staff, contractors, and vendors. Of course, the only person who can determine the right option for your business is you.
Small business accounting can be a challenge, even for the experts. Tax laws are different in every state and are constantly changing, and bookkeeping can be full of costly errors if you don’t know what you’re doing. There’s also the fact that keeping the books can take hours every week—not the optimal use of your time if you’re the one running the business.
Unless you’re a wiz with Excel and Quickbooks, have a background in accounting, or like the tasks associated with keeping the books, it might be a good idea to bring in outside help. The good news is that you have plenty of options, from one-person accounting shops that may be listed on LinkedIn to online shops like Basis 365. Be sure to do your due diligence; find options that are reasonably priced while saving you time and hassle. Shop around to find the right fit for your needs. It will be time well spent in the long run.
Unless you’re a lawyer, you might not be able to handle all the legal tasks associated with your business, from writing articles of incorporation to drawing up client contracts to reviewing leases for office space. And even if you are a lawyer, if your business isn’t a law firm, it might not make sense to spend your time on legal duties.
Fortunately, you don’t have to hire a costly full-time lawyer who will charge you steep rates for every document he or she reviews. Solutions like UpCounsel and LegalZoom were started specifically to serve small businesses and offer lower-cost legal counsel that caters to the needs and budgets of small business owners. You can connect with and engage high-quality attorneys who will focus on your individual needs.
Because this can be such an important part of your business, make sure you do your homework and don’t necessarily jump at the first attorney or law firm that wants to work with your company. Make sure you pick the right legal representation to fit your company’s needs.
The price of outside help may seem unnecessary. However, the benefits of using experts for tasks like accounting, HR, and legal services might far outweigh the costs when delegating such work leaves you free to create great products, acquire new customers, manage smart operations, and train staff. Doing so will make your business more compliant, and it may also help your business make more money.
Ty Kiisel is a contributing author focusing on small business financing at OnDeck, a technology company solving small business’s biggest challenge: access to capital. With over 25 years of experience in the trenches of small business, Ty shares personal experiences and valuable tips to help small business owners become more financially responsible. OnDeck can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.