Florists are experts in floral art, café owners love to cook, tradies can DIY – but things like the accounts, payroll, and marketing are not always an area of expertise, and it is often best to outsource these tasks to specialists. After all, who wants to use up hours of valuable time balancing the books or experimenting with AdWords, when you could instead be running the business or spending time with the family?

Whatever your industry, if you’re thinking about outsourcing functions like your business finance, payroll or marketing – or are concerned you’re paying too much – here are some tips to aid the decision-making process.

Bookkeeping and Accounting

Firstly, it is important to clarify the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant. A bookkeeper records all the daily transactions your business makes and hands over the figures to the business. An accountant is more expensive and has higher qualifications, and will not only record the numbers but analyse them and provide tax and other financial advice.

Most BAS-certified bookkeepers charge between $40-$80 per hour, inclusive of GST. However, you should be comparing bookkeepers on more than just their hourly rate. A well-qualified and experienced bookkeeper who charges a slightly higher hourly rate may also perform services in half the time of a cheaper, inexperienced bookkeeper – so clarify the estimated cost per service when obtaining quotes.

The hourly rate for a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) or Chartered Accountant (CA) depends on the experience and seniority of the accountant. Junior accountants usually start at around $100 per hour, while a principal could charge $400 per hour or more.

Finding an accountant appropriate to your situation is important. A sole trader will not require the same level of accountancy expertise as a small business would, and it is always advisable to find an accountant with experience working with clients in your particular industry.

Regardless of whether you decide on a bookkeeper or an accountant, the best method of finding a good practitioner is asking other business owners, friends, and family for recommendations.

Payroll

As your business grows, payroll management can become a time-consuming activity, and for small businesses with few employees, time is money. A survey by the Australian Payroll Association found the average outsourced cost per payslip for businesses with less than 50 employees was $17.72, compared to $151.57 in-house.

The cost depends on the number of employees your business has, the pay frequency, and the exact services you require, but generally firms will charge a monthly base rate, in addition to a per-employee fee.

You may also look at outsourcing other HR functions like recruitment or OH&S management, where fees vary greatly depending on the depth of assistance needed and the size of your business.

Marketing

Activities like web design, graphics, search engine optimisation and public relations activities are crucial for raising the profile of small businesses, and outsourcing to specialist firms is usually preferable when your business does not require a full-time marketing manager.

Smaller agencies or freelancers typically charge $80-$200 per hour. When making a decision, make sure you see samples of previous work and ask for references from their clients. It’s also worth seeing if they have prior experience with other small businesses in your industry.

The common denominator among any outsourcing decisions is to negotiate fees since the majority of consultancies are flexible with costs. You also need to ensure you are only paying for the services you need, and not unnecessarily expensive package deals. Start with a trial period or small project and then engage for the longer term.

Focus on What You Do Best

If you do your research properly, then outsourcing aspects of your business you are not an expert in makes financial sense. As well as freeing up time for you to grow your business, you can improve the holy grail of work-life balance. And if you need help to take control of your cash flow, talk to Prospa about a small business loan.

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