financial

There are aspects of running a business many entrepreneurs would prefer to avoid but they have to be done by someone. For example, 86% of small business owners take on at least one financial activity for their small businesses, according to a recent survey from QuickBooks and Kelton Global. Most (80%) business owners do this because they believe “they’re the best people to manage their finances with the best level of accuracy.”

But the truth is, taking on these financial tasks themselves costs them time, and money—and leaves them open to run-ins with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Not to mention the cost of missed opportunities.

Are you micromanaging payroll?

Take payroll, for example. As business owners, we know that processing employee payroll and calculating payroll taxes accurately is always time consuming and often frustrating. If you get it wrong—it can cost you a lot of money and possibly get you in legal trouble.

The time it takes to do payroll and fear of getting it wrong are two reasons why 65% of small business owners, on average, wish they could completely outsource their payroll process,

Small business owners are always short on time. Imagine what you could accomplish if you had an extra 21 days a year to work on the parts of your business that really matter. Well, according the QuickBooks/Kelton Global survey that’s how much time business owners would save by outsourcing payroll—4 hours and 52 minutes every pay period! And what’s more, 63% of small business owners admit they never realized how much time they were spending working on payroll.

Other insights from the survey:

Not confident: 33% of small business owners aren’t “comfortable with the payroll process at all.” 

It’s hard to keep up: 79% of business owners say it’s hard to stay on top of payroll tax laws. Partly, say 70% of business owners, that’s due to the varying labor laws in different cities and states across the country, which makes doing payroll even harder.

IRS problems: 25% of the small businesses surveyed had problems with the IRS. Of those, 15% were audited, and 17% were fined. The bigger small businesses had more problems—40% of companies with more than 10 employees were audited or fined, compared to 14% of businesses with 10 or less employees.

Getting help: 81% of the small business owners who felt “confident” about the upcoming tax season use software to process employee payroll and calculate and file payroll taxes.

Increasing cash flow: 72% of small business owners use automated payroll software and of those, 73% say using the software has helped them “improve cash flow by maximizing deductions and keeping money in the business.”

The business owners who do calculate their own payroll are not exactly happy with the task, describing it as frustrating (49%), complicated (47%), and confusing (44%). And instead of doing payroll they’d rather be spending time:

  • Hanging out with family and friends
  • Improving their product or service offerings
  • Spending time with customers
  • Networking
  • Training their employees

The survey also did a deep dive into what areas of their companies small business owners are most concerned about. The top 5 are (three concerns were tied for fifth place):

  • Customer satisfaction                50%
  • Cash flow                                 49%
  • Taxes                                       35%
  • Hiring & workforce mgt.             29%
  • Day-to-day administrative tasks  27%
  • Government policies & regulations 27%
  • Social media & marketing           27%

What financial concerns keeps small business owners up at night? The top 6 are:

  1. Not having enough cash flow to fund my business                37%
  2. Having to handle all the financial admin/operational tasks myself 31%
  3. Being unprepared for tax season 25%
  4. Having to pay extra taxes due to lack of knowledge about deductions 22%
  5. Not being able to hire the right people for finance/accounting jobs 16%
  6. Missing deadlines for payments 16%

A lucky 23% said there are no financial issues keeping them up at night.

Perhaps a lot of the concerns mentioned above exist because the survey shows small business owners are shouldering most of these financial tasks by themselves.

  • 77% deal with their lease/rental agreement
  • 77% manage their cash flow
  • 70% manage accounts payable
  • 63% process their own payroll
  • 60% manage the payroll taxes

These are tasks that can easily and affordably be outsourced. However 45% of those surveyed say the cost of outsourcing these tasks is too expensive. And 34% “don’t see the value of paying another company or advisor” to take on those tasks, while 34% don’t trust anyone to put their business interests first.

When it comes to:

  • managing cash flow (73%)
  • dealing with their lease/rental agreement (70%)
  • managing accounts payable (61%)
  • processing their own payroll (53%)
  • managing payroll taxes (49%)

of small business owners think they’re the ones who can complete these financial tasks “with the best level of accuracy.”

What’s the best use of your time?

I am astounded that so many small business owners don’t consider how much time and effort working on these tasks consumes, which could be better spent on marketing, sales, strategy, R&D and more.

Consider if your clients felt like that—that they would be better off doing the work themselves rather than hiring you. I can’t help but think trying to do all the financial management themselves is the reason the number-one challenge for their businesses in 2020 is “growing my business” (attracting new customers, maintaining loyal customers, etc.). How can you expect to have time to work on attracting and retaining customers if you’re busy calculating payroll, payroll taxes, etc.

It’s no wonder that business owners who do outsource these financial functions say they can spend more time focusing on their businesses (38%) and they can better prioritize other tasks that require their attention (35%). And 36% of small business owners who use automated payroll software say the same.

Micromanaging is all too common a trait among entrepreneurs. Too many think no one can do a task as well as they can. Simply put, that’s nonsense. You didn’t start a business to be an accountant or bookkeeper. Instead take advantage of available software or outsource these tasks, so you can concentrate on actually working on the business you’ve invested so much time and money in building.

Doing finances stock photo by fizkes/Shutterstock