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What Could Your Clients Do with an Extra 33 Hours?

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Sep 13th 2016
Director, Accountant Advisor Program OnDeck
Columnist
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According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the average business owner spends 33 hours looking for, and applying for, a small business loan from a traditional bank – that’s 33 hours that could be spent on the important work of running a successful small business.

We recently conducted a study asking small business owners what they’d do if they had an extra 33 hours and what, if any, time-saving tips they might share. Surprisingly, of all the “time-savers” they used within their businesses, I was surprised to see that “none” was a popular answer.

With that in mind, I reached out to a couple of accountants I know and asked them what they would recommend to their clients. As I expected, they had some good advice to share.

According to both Letha Hinote of Warren Sasser & Associates LLC in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, and James Hardy Jr. of Hardy Consulting Firm PC in Robertsdale, Alabama, accounting, recordkeeping, human resources, and compliance with tax and labor laws seem to be the biggest burdens on a small business owner’s time.

Most small business owners don’t jump into their entrepreneurial dream because they’re excited about tax compliance or detailed recordkeeping, but they realize how important they are and consequentially spend time dealing with what Hinote and Hardy identify as tasks that are taxing on their time. I’m convinced identifying where those difficult “time traps” exist in a business is the first step to figuring out the best way to make those tasks less of a time burden.

“Technology can help save a lot of time,” said Hardy. “There are software and other online tools that can help streamline many of those tasks that are time-consuming. If you have questions about what tools could help your business, your accountant would be able to make some suggestions.”

Hinote’s advice was very practical: “Be diligent about keeping your data entry up-to-date so things don’t pile up and become overwhelming. It can be easy for a business owner to put off some of those tasks until they pile up – making data entry even more time-consuming down the road.”

Both accountants suggested QuickBooks as a tool to help small business owners manage the accounting function within their businesses to save time.

“By far and away, QuickBooks is the most recommended,” said Hardy.

Hinote added: “We recommend QuickBooks Desktop as a good accounting software for a business since it is easy to learn and use. What’s more, the accountant’s copy interface facilitates an easy exchange between our clients and our accountants. This can be a big time-saver.”

Another common suggestion was to outsource accounting tasks to a qualified accountant.

“Small business owners should evaluate whether or not there are tasks, like payroll or bookkeeping, they can outsource to an accountant or bookkeeper,” said Hinote. “Your CPA can help you determine if this makes sense for you and your business.”

Hardy added: “An accountant can do it quicker and cheaper than you can. It’s also important to learn your business metrics and focus primarily on those – your accountant can manage the day-to-day accounting tasks.”

One of the biggest takeaways from the survey was that most small business owners consider the idea of work-life balance to be a myth. When I asked what they do to maintain work-life balance, “I go fishing,” is what Hardy said. That sounded good to me.

“Make sure you schedule time for yourself and your family,” said Hinote. “Get that time on your calendar.”

When I talk to small business owners, they universally talk about the extra time they spend at work and wish there were more hours in the day. They also describe how rewarding it is to run a small business.

Is this the same advice you’d give your clients? Is there anything we’ve missed that you’d like to add? Share your advice here and we can talk about it in a future post.

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