- Start a Business
- Business Ideas
- Business Financing
- Marketing & More
- About Idea Cafe
What Is Realistic For Small Business Owners To Handle Themselves?
by AJ O’Brien Wed, 11/02/2016 - 09:57
Small business owners come from all walks of life, and each has their own unique skills and talents to bring to the table. Whether your business is a steady, one-man operation, or is booming faster than you can keep up with, there are several areas where it might be better for you to outsource work or hire a professional contractor. This all depends on your goals, as well as your own knowledge and your willingness to learn new tasks. Read on to find out what might work best for your individual business's needs.
As an entrepreneur, you know that accounting is one of the most important aspects of your business. Keeping up with your books is imperative to your business’s success, and failure to keep accurate track of everything that comes in and goes out can mean big trouble down the road. If you studied business in school, accounting was definitely part of your education, but if your business is more of a passion project, keeping the books can be a new and scary world.
Unless you have some training and knowledge in the area of accounting, it’s probably best to hire a professional to keep your books and prepare your tax documents. However, not all of us have the resources to pay for this type of specialized service. If that’s the case, there’s no need to worry. There are a plethora of resources out there for small business owners to both learn about and utilize in their accounting. From free invoice templates to in-depth guides to the three essential financial statements every business owner needs to understand, you can find everything you need and more online.
It will take a good amount of time and effort on your part, but learning to manage your own books can be quite empowering, and it is a skill you can continue to utilize. If you are starting completely from scratch, I highly recommend this beginner’s guide to bookkeeping. If you’re not so much into learning an entirely new skill, or you hate math, or maybe you just see your business growing too large for one person to handle all the books in the future, outsourcing your accounting is probably a worthy investment. Just make sure you take the time to find the right bookkeeper for your outfit.
These days, just about anyone can learn to design a basic website. I myself created my first Wordpress site after spending about a half a day watching Youtube tutorials, and I was quite proud of my finished result. Depending on what your needs are, you can quickly learn Wordpress, or even utilize one of many services that offer hosting, domain purchasing, and basic do-it-yourself website design all in one package.
Designing and managing your own website is within reach for most small business owners whose needs are fairly basic. If you want something unforgettable that will help establish your brand from every nook and cranny, you’ll definitely want to spend the money on a professional website designer. They can help you with more than just web design, as well. Graphic design is a niche area of expertise that few have, so unless you’ve dabbled in it yourself, having a professional on hand to design custom logos and emblems can really take your business to the next level.
There are many qualified individuals out there who can make your little corner of the web stand apart from your competitors, but they can be especially advantageous if you’re running an ecommerce site. These types of sites can be very difficult to design, implement, and maintain, and when your customers are actually using your website to shop or do business with you, you’ll want them to have a pleasant and seamless experience, so hiring a professional who understands how to optimize user experience is definitely a plus.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
For those that don’t know, here is SEO in a nutshell: an organic form of advertising that signals search engines to tell users who are searching for your product or service that your website is highly relevant to them. It is an extremely strategic form of marketing, in that it doesn’t just attempt to place your business in the sight of the public with only basic information about target demographics taken into account and almost zero knowledge of whether the people seeing your advertisements are actually in the market for your products. Traditional marketing’s main goal is to convince someone that they want what you are offering, whereas SEO’s goal is to place your website directly in front of people who are already looking to buy what you are selling.
Many small businesses keep SEO on the backburner, when in reality it should be one of their main priorities when attempting to move their brand forward. When it comes to ranking in the SERPs (search engine results pages,) you can never get started too early. Demand generation research shows that not only does organic search result for 64% of web traffic compared to only 6% from paid media, but organic leads perform better than paid ones in volume, quality, consistency, and conversion rates.
By now it should be clear that SEO should be a top priority for even the smallest of businesses, but the question now is, do you outsource it or attempt it yourself? SEO is a rather new concept that is constantly evolving, so if you’re willing to keep up with the latest trends and spend time occasionally changing tactics, you might be able to tackle this effort yourself, at least at first. However, if the prospect of learning all the ins and outs of something just to have it up and change at a moment’s notice doesn’t sound appealing to you, there are many burgeoning and well-established SEO companies that can help meet a variety of needs.
Depending on what you do and with whom you do it, a wall filled with old-fashioned file cabinets might not do the trick. Even if you keep paper copies of all of your records, it’s becoming more and more important to back all of that information up one way or another. Keeping copies of all of your important data and documentation in “the cloud” is one of the safest ways to go, and this applies to businesses that store everything on hard drives and in-house servers as well.
So what is “the cloud?” According to Scott Kinka of Evolve IP, it is simply “a metaphor for the service provider's network or the Internet.” Anything stored in the cloud is still hardlined data, but its storage is hosted by a service provider on one of their servers, and it’s still accessible to you at any given time. If you pay for a cloud service, your data will likely be backed up in multiple places, and your service provider will have a number of security measures in place to make sure that your information is protected at all times.
This is especially important in this day and age, as major data breaches are in the news almost every week. Most believe that criminals only go after large corporations with tons of sensitive information to steal, but this isn’t the case. Identity thieves and hackers often look for the easiest wins, and this can mean small outfits with little security. You should definitely consider outsourcing your data storage to the cloud, especially since even the slightest breach, especially one that involves customer information, can be detrimental to your business.
There are obvious security benefits of hiring an outside service to store data, but what about efficiency and time management? No matter how you go about it, you’ll have to take the time to record and input all of your data, but the right cloud storage platform could save you a ton of time in the end. They’ll often have re-usable templates you can go back to time and time again, and when it comes time to transfer or share information, having cloud access alleviates the need for scanning anything into a system or re-hashing it into another email. While it’s never a bad idea to store certain types of documentation on-site, as long as it’s secure, it might be time to consider outsourcing document management wholly or partially to a cloud-based system.
While it may seem ideal, at least in the beginning, to handle everything yourself, it might not always be in the cards, especially as your business grows and changes. Hopefully this guide will help you sort out what you can manage yourself, and what you can outsource for the best possible results.
About the author
AJ O'Brien runs her own business as a personal chef and enjoys blogging about her passions and experiences.