And in this digital age, where it seems like a large percentage of business can be completed in a smartphone app, anything quick and convenient can be tempting and almost seem like a necessity. But one of the keys to staying afloat, especially during the first couple years of business, is minimizing costs and making smart investments that will help your business grow.
Here are four business services that follow through on their promises for time and money saved and can help small business owners grow their ventures at scale.
1. Corporate Filings
Depending on where you’re at in the process of getting your business off the ground, you may or may not be familiar with the steps involved in getting set up with state and federal government entities. Filing for an Employer Identification Number, getting a business license, setting up a ‘Doing Business As’ and choosing a resident agent are all just a few of the steps that need to be taken care of in the very early states of business ownership. Though you may think you’re familiar with most of these items, these steps can take a lot of personal time and they must be done with 100 percent accuracy.
The paperwork doesn’t stop when you’ve set up shop. Most businesses are required to submit annual corporate reports, aside from taxes, and some states have additional requirements for franchises. Failing to properly file or pay initial fees can result in costly penalties. Not surprisingly, there’s little forgiveness for business owners who aren’t aware of these requirements.
Paying your attorney or business manager to do these tasks can cost you few hundred dollars an hour, but you can also outsource this work for a just a few hundred dollars total with a corporate filings services company. This ensures your business is set up and maintained properly so you can focus on other priorities.
Paying your employees seems like a straightforward part of running a business. And it’s entirely possible to pay a minimum price for barebones software that will take money from your operating account and put it in that of your employees. However, investing in a more robust, full service payroll partner rather that just a computer program can actually help grow your business.
Companies like ADP and Paychex have several options for businesses as small as one employee. Many of these packages come with benefits that far exceed standard payroll offerings. From employment posters to HR help and tax assurance, the price you pay for payroll can alleviate many of your business woes.
3. 401(k) Plan Investment Management
It’s highly commendable to offer your employees the option to save for their retirement — not to mention a necessary recruiting tool in today’s competitive hiring environment, but it does come with its challenges.
Few people are familiar with the inner-workings of their 401(k) plan other than the percentage of their paycheck that comes out every month and the total balance of their account. This is understandable because retirement plan management is complex, and although important when it comes to legally managing your employees’ benefits, probably not where you want to focus your time as a business owner.
Depending on the size of your company (the requirements for annual filings vary with number of participants), you could easily justify hiring a full-time employee to manage your company’s retirement plan. The annual filing process, enrolling new employees and seeing that deferrals are processed in a timely manner require expertise, and if done incorrectly, the IRS is quick to assess hefty fees.
But hiring a company whose expertise is in 401(k) plan management will save yourself headaches and your business significant cash. Though your accountant may offer to manage these processes for you, be sure to ask them about their experience as well as consider your business’s specific needs. When comparing costs, remember that the cheapest option may not include all of the offerings needed to support your business, and adding them a la carte may be more expensive in the long run.
Accountants and analysts have become much more than number crunchers, and they’re likely at the top of your payroll with good reason. These employees can help you understand your cash flow in meaningful ways and manage programs to reduce unnecessary spending.
All that being said, it’s not a good investment to have these highly trained professionals scanning receipts and completing mindless data entry. Especially because there are so many robust and affordable bookkeeping options available. Spending money on great bookkeeping software can not only keep your finances in order, but also free up time for the people in your business to contribute at their highest potential.
When choosing which business services to spend your money on, remember to think of them as investments. The right service providers and partners can not only solve a problem and relieve you of extra work but help to grow your business and set you up for long-term success. Compare prices and offerings, and don’t be afraid to start investing in these services while your company is in its earliest stages — you’ll be in a better place down the road.