Hard as it may be to admit for small business owners, sometimes you’re not the best person for a job. You’re likely very good at several things, like running your business, but when the time it takes to do others -- like graphic design -- becomes extreme, it may be more affordable and smarter to outsource the job.
Early in your business development, you may manage your own accounts with an online program like FreshBooks. But as your company grows, your accounting and tax situation becomes more complex. It can be difficult to keep up with new business tax laws, and you may not be categorizing your expenses and income in the appropriate manner.
That’s when it’s time to consider hiring an accountant. They can handle your financial accounts faster than you, and they’re on top of changing regulations, which can help you stay on the IRS’s good side.
Finding a Good Accountant: Start by asking people you know, especially other small business owners, for a referral. After you have a list of possible accountants, search for reviews of the accountants in your area on sites like Yelp. Feedback from people who have worked with the individual can help you understand if he’s a good fit. Next, set up a meeting with your top 3 to 5 choices. Look to understand:
- How they bill: is it a monthly retainer or per activity fee?
- How they envision working with you
- How often you should meet or speak by telephone
- What information you need to provide
- How much their services cost
2. Graphic Design
Unless you run a design firm, you’re probably not the best at designing logos and other graphics. Rather than look unprofessional with a free clip art logo you got off another website, invest a few hundred dollars in a quality designer who can work with you as your company grows.
Designers come in all price ranges. Some work as freelancers, while others are larger firms with multiple designers. The freelancers tend to be more affordable for small businesses, so start there. When asking for a price quote, be as detailed as possible about your project. Type up your vision of what you want it to look like, and share links of similar looks you’d like to emulate. A good designer appreciates as much input as you can provide, and it can help prevent fees for additional changes on the design.
Finding a Talented Designer: Again, referrals work well. You can easily see a designer’s portfolio on his website, which can give you an indication of his style. If it’s not in vein with what you’re picturing, find another. Get quotes on a given project from several designers, and if you need the project printed, ask if they have a printer they work with, and request the quote to include printing fees as well. Sometimes it’s cheaper to use a designer’s printer; other times it’s not.
If you’re willing to give a newbie a chance, hire a college student or recent grad. You can likely save a bundle and you’ll help her sharpen her portfolio of work.
Some small business owners are prolific writers, while others would rather stab their eyes out with a pencil than write. It’s smart to work with an experienced business writer who knows how to write keyword-rich web copy, blog posts, press releases and marketing copy. Each has a style all its own, and you don’t want to skimp on words, as they make a huge impression on potential customers.
Because you won’t need full-time writing, you can work with a freelancer or writing firm on a project basis. If you need several blog posts each week, you may be able to negotiate a lower rate per article due to the longer nature of the project.
Finding a Skilled Writer: Again, college students and grads can provide affordable copy, but make sure it’s up to par. If you’re not willing to spend time teaching them what you need, opt for a professional freelancer or firm that comes well referred. Ask for samples as close to what you need as possible; while it’s not necessary that he has experience writing in your field, he does need to show the ability to quickly ramp up on your industry and understand the lingo.
Ask for writing samples and links to sites with his web copy or blog posts. He should be able to produce several examples of copy on clients’ sites if he’s good.
Whatever you’re outsourcing, make sure to get an agreement signed by both you and the freelancer or firm you hire. This will help outline legally both parties’ responsibilities and fees. This will give you legal proof should something go wrong or should the freelancer try to charge more than the agreement mentions.
Once you find a qualified professional to outsource to, stick with her. The longer you work with an accountant or designer, the better they understand your business, which helps you succeed in the long run.