Have you ever looked at the source code for a web page? Like this:
I did today – it was really scary. I know what all that stuff means and I’ve edited it in the past, but I sure don’t like mucking about with it.
A plugin I was using was asking me to work in code mode. When I saw the source code, said “no thanks,” and called my web developer.
I usually like doing as much as possible on my own to save money. But in some cases, it’s better to let an expert do it.
This Frugal Business Secret can save you a vast amount of time, money, and frustration.
5 Tasks You Should Give to Experts
These five kinds of business tasks should be outsourced. Let the experts do them. These tasks are:
- Sales Taxes
- Payroll and Payroll Taxes
- IT, Web, SEO, and Email Newsletters
- Bookkeeping/Accounting/Income Taxes
- Contracts and Legal Stuff
Why You Should Let the Expert Do It
Here are the criteria I used as my rationale for turning tasks over to experts:
Highly technical skills and steep learning curve required.
These tasks are technical. They take a great deal of specialized knowledge and they have a steep learning curve. Learning source code on a web page takes years to learn, as do all of these tasks. People go to technical schools, or take specialized training to do them.
You’re a business owner; you don’t have time to learn how to do payroll, figure out sales tax rates, dig into source code, or do automations for a new email ad campaign. Let someone who knows how to do it take over this task.
Inherently dangerous if messed up.
I don’t mean you can blow up your computer. But if I had started into the source code and managed to make a mess of it (very likely), it would have caused major problems and I would have had to pay my web designer a lot more money to fix it.
The danger with sales tax is that you will miss a payment or collect too little. With sales tax, you must figure out tax rates for multiple locations (state and local), know whether the tax should be calculated on location of the seller or buyer, where to send it and how to report it, and whether you should even collect the tax (if you are selling online).
Payroll tasks require a lot of complicated calculations for withholding, complex forms to complete, and a dizzying number of due dates. Mistakes mean fines and penalties.
Business income taxes are the most dangerous taxes to mess up. One danger is paying too much, which costs money but doesn’t annoy the IRS. The other danger is paying too little, or not documenting your expenses. That’s a much bigger problem, which might lead to audits, fines, and penalties. Business income tax filing is a whole different animal from personal income taxes, and you won’t get much help from online filing sites or from the tax preparation services. Get professional help.
Contracts and filings, like filing for a business entity registration with a state, are extremely risky to attempt DIY. If you miss a critical agreement, you may find yourself out thousands of dollars. Let an attorney do it.
Professional results required.
People can spot amateur work a mile away. Particularly in web design, you always want to look bigger than you are, and an amateur website just won’t cut it.
My Frugal Business Secrets home page looks like a professional did it, and I paid to make sure it looked like that.
Contrast that with the home page for my bookkeeping service – Murray Business Solutions. I use it as an online resume, not to draw in large numbers of people. It looks fine, but it’s not of the quality of Frugal Business Secrets.
Time-consuming on a regular basis.
Some tasks take more time than others. If you enjoy doing them, and you are good at them, great. But it takes a lot of time to get a blog post written, or a newsletter designed and sent out or to run a payroll every few weeks. And setting up a web page takes many hours of work every week.
Not a core business task.
The most important part of this Secret is right here. Unless you are in the business of doing accounting, web design, or email marketing, these tasks aren’t core business tasks. You need to do all of them – they are all essential to your business – but they don’t have anything to do with your Big Idea (the core of the products or services you are selling).
Some of these tasks – like your web site and your email newsletter – relate to your promotion efforts, but they setting up a website or an email campaign doesn’t directly get you new business. They need to be done, but someone else can do them just as well.
But it Costs More to Have Someone Else Do It!
Yep. I know, believe me. I just paid my web designer a lot of money to create my Frugal Business Secrets website. But it’s fabulous! I could not have done such a professional job on my own. I go DIY as much as possible, but I carefully evaluate whether it’s better to do the work myself or get an expert.
But Do Check on Your Experts
One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is turning these tasks over to someone and then not paying attention to the result. In each case, because of the inherent danger if they are not done well, these tasks can have financial and legal and tax consequences.
- Not collecting, reporting, and paying sales taxes can get you into trouble with your state taxing agency.
- Not doing your income tax return right can cause major fines and penalties.
- Same with payroll/payroll taxes, and the IRS is monitoring payroll taxes much more closely these days.
- A poorly designed newsletter might send potential subscribers into the vacuum of the ethernet or make them frustrated.
One of the 50 Secrets of a Successful Frugal Business is “Trust but Verify.” Trust professionals to do their job, but check to make sure it’s done – and done correctly.
You Still Can’t Get Out of Knowing This Stuff
In order to verify, you must know enough about the subject to know when someone has made a mistake.
My friend Samantha had a rental business (party supplies and small tools) and she wanted to change from a sole proprietorship to an S corporation for tax purposes. She trusted her attorney to make the change at the correct time, but she didn’t follow up. He missed the deadline, causing her to lose a lot of money.
The Secret is to find out enough about the subject to know when something is wrong, but you don’t have to know every little detail. Think of it this way:
Know WHAT needs to be done, but don’t worry about HOW.
Here’s to the success of your Frugal Business!