According to the UK Federation of Small Businesses, British SMEs spend the equivalent of almost three working weeks every year navigating complex tax reporting and bookkeeping processes.
With this stat in mind, it’s no wonder that three quarters of UK businesses have used an external accountant in the past year, and 48% name their accountant as their most trusted business adviser.
The report states, “The UK’s average small business tally £5,000 per year on tax compliance as they burn through an average of 95 hours every year to file their returns – the equivalent of 12 eight-hour working days.”
What could you, as a small business owner, do with 12 extra days a year? Would you invest more time coming up with new products or ideas? Perhaps you could build up your online presence, launch a marketing campaign – or even just spend time with family (and catch up on some sleep).
We’ve asked 12 small business owners who’ve outsourced their accounting to share how they’re investing the extra time. From boosting websites and launching podcasts, to expanding a franchise and even buying a London flat, read on to see how taking the leap to outsource has improved their lives and businesses!
Four years ago, we took the leap and outsourced our accounting. We’d been considering outsourcing the task for two years but were mainly concerned that a third-party accountant wouldn’t have enough insight into our business to do the job effectively.
But we were wrong.
Within 2-3 months, the accountant had learned how we do things and was already contributing to the efficiency of the business. Combined with their knowledge and expertise in managing accounts – particularly Xero, our accounting software – our accounts have never been more organised.
It leaves me with far more time to focus on the business. I now have more time to spend with our clients developing strategies, as well as more time to check in and collaborate with employees, which is advantageous for us as a small, close-knit team.
Meanwhile, our accountants are now taking on other roles like collecting money and providing management with financial reports. If only we had taken the leap earlier!
I’ve never done my own tax return – it was the one thing I knew I would outsource when I started as a sole trader.
It felt like a necessary piece of running a business that I didn’t need to understand fully and could completely entrust to an expert trained to do it. I teach my own clients to ‘stay in their zone of genius’ as much as possible, so this was an obvious place I could practice what I preach.
I’ve grown slowly and did my own bookkeeping for the first couple of years, gradually with the help of my accountant moving from a basic spreadsheet to Xero to automate a lot of the data entry.
It was important to me that I did understand the basic finances of my business so I’m glad I did it this way initially. I think it’s important that you track and monitor income and expense for a healthy relationship with money rather than sticking your head in the sand.
With the time I don’t have to spend on bookkeeping and filing tax returns, I am completely free to focus on my clients, create new products (I just launched my first group programme) and record my podcast which has been an amazing source of leads.
12 days is a staggering amount of time when you work as a solopreneur and there’s always more you could be doing to grow your business. I know what I’d rather be spending my time on, and it’s not figuring out how to be tax compliant when there are plenty of people who can do that for me and they enjoy it because it’s their zone of genius!
As a company owner, and busy mum of five. I was always trying to keep costs down and try to do every single part of my business myself. From web design to content, SEO, Social media, and accounts. It was very time-consuming and I was often working 10 hour days 7 days a week.
By outsourcing my accounts to a local company, I have saved myself a lot of time (and stress). As my business began to grow, it became increasingly difficult to keep up with everything single-handedly.
At first, when contemplating hiring an accountant, I was scared by the extra monthly outgoing, but I utilise the free time I now have into putting extra content on my website which has increased my productivity and revenue dramatically.
My accountant saves me time and money – the two things a business owner needs. I’ve quadrupled my income since I started four years ago, and he is the reason! Well, that and I’m good at my job.
I’d been spending more and more time wading through spreadsheets, getting stuck on invoicing, and just floundering. I had no clue about how much tax I should pay, what setting up a limited company meant, or when the right time to go VAT registered was. He helps me with all of that, and we now have a good system in place that enables us to both keep track of things.
And that extra income? Well I’m buying a flat in London!
My accountant offered a business setup package which was affordable and seemed to be a one-stop shop when I knew nothing about doing it. They also offered scalable advice, tailored for small businesses.
The founder was also a working mother like me who was growing her business, so I felt she understood my challenges.
Finances are not my strong point, so it’s allowed me to focus on my own strengths! I still do some of the finances but as we went Ltd and have grown, they’ve done more and more.
I can grow the business without worrying about VAT returns or payroll. I trust them to get on with it. It will be quicker for them to handle than for me, meaning I can focus on business growth and paid-for hours.
Regarding business impacts, I’d say I was very clear about finances and knew how many projects I needed to take on with her financial guidance. I wouldn’t have been able to define that so clearly otherwise.
Also, I’d say it’s given me time and, importantly, headspace to focus on the business, rather than in the business, but on those activities that would directly help us to grow. So instead of doing VAT returns or analysis, I was able to dedicate time to launching our new website, which has helped to bring in new clients.
Accounting was one of the very first things I outsourced when I started the business three years ago. I decided to outsource this because I’m definitely not a numbers person. As someone who has previously always been employed, I had no idea where to start with managing my own accounts. It was an easy decision to let an accountant deal with that side of things, while I focused on serving clients and growing the business.
Outsourcing my accountancy has enabled me to spend my time on the things that really matter, and the aspects of the business which I excel at. It’s also completely eliminated the worry and stress of accounts deadlines, expenses, and the big task of filing the annual tax return.
More specifically, outsourcing accounting really moved the needle in giving me time to focus on marketing my own business. This is something that can easily become the last priority when you’re running a service-based business, as most of my time is spent working on marketing other businesses.
I bought an HR Dept franchise territory just over 15 years ago. I had never run a business before, but I was good at HR and I had plenty of experience in the SME market so providing the actual HR service I knew I could deliver incredibly well.
The first few years of running the franchise was stressful for a number of reasons. I had a lack of confidence because I was selling my own ability. Setting up a business is costly and I worried about how we could pay our bills. And of course, I got pregnant too!
The biggest stress for me was financial planning. I had no experience of this at all. I felt that I couldn’t afford to pay for someone to help me with this until I was bigger and making more money.
This meant that I spent every weekend invoicing, sending emails out chasing debt (I was terrified to pick up the phone and ask for money!) and trying to figure out in my amateurish way if we could plan a holiday or get the new car we needed or whatever the latest money drain was for us.
It is my biggest regret and something I tell my fellow franchisees when they start – get a bookkeeper!
Since I started working with my accountant, life has been so much easier. I don’t spend my weekends on accounts anymore and it gave me the ability to actually understand where our money was coming from and what I needed to do to reach the next step.
Of course, the first thing was taking on more employees. Then I expanded our franchise territories, then we needed a second office and the business has just grown. I know that I would not have been able to do this if I didn’t have the support and guidance from my accountant.
When I started my first business, I managed the accounts until I had more than 50 people to manage payments for. That was when I realised enough was enough, and started to outsource.
This gave me time to focus on the things that were important for me to grow my business. I could create trainings, converse with event managers and most of all spend more time working 1:1 with clients helping them to use Instagram to grow their business.
When I started my current business Immortal Monkey, the first thing I did was employ a bookkeeper and accountant. I was never going back to doing it for myself again.
This allowed me to really focus on launching my business, it meant I had time to engage with the press and various other media outlets, raising the visibility of the brand but most importantly it allowed me to spend more time on the money-making tasks in the business.
Delegation and outsourcing are skills in themselves that as a business owner I have had to work on. I’m a bit of a control freak if I’m honest but I’m getting there, thanks to my amazing team!
I help grieving pet parents after the death of their pet using a mix of hypnotherapy and grief counselling.
Having an accountant frees me up to see more clients, and to spend more time with family and friends.
I did try to do my own accounts once, and even though I’m a sole trader, the stress and confusion I experienced just wasn’t worth it. I had friends and colleagues reassuring me it was easy but I’m not a techie kind of person.
My accountant has saved me far more than it costs me to use him – and has stopped me throwing the laptop out of the window!
Outsourcing our accounting department has been time-saving for the company. It’s cost-efficient, as we no longer need to house an entire department for financial activities. The resources saved from this were allocated to the business’s product development – which is the lifeblood of the company.
We now have more room and budget to effectively scale our business in this highly competitive modern market. Moreover, tedious tasks for accounting are now used to multiply our customer engagement efforts and reinforce the business’s customer relations.
Aside from the convenience being provided by outsourcing accounting, dedicated experts have fewer margin errors as they are trusted and proven experts in their fields.
The company no longer shoulders the responsibility of overseeing our accounting responsibilities. We now simply assign a dedicated team to do them. Finances and audits are assured to run smoothly and efficiently, while keeping me 24/7 updated.
Adopting an outsourced accounting service definitely enhanced our business’s overall operations while increasing our cost-efficiency rates.
As a small business owner, the main factor in my decision to outsource accounting was the more complicated rules and regulations (including VAT) that come with running a limited company (as opposed to being a freelancer) that trades internationally. This has been further complicated by recent changes that made trading with EU-based clients more difficult.
Doing this has helped me to:
- Save time and therefore be able to focus on the business and not having to read about the latest fiscal news
- Avoid mistakes
- Always have an expert to turn to if I had any questions
For our clients who have outsourced their accounting, the benefits have been tangible from Day One. It’s helped them:
- Get the best return on their tax filing
- Identify growth and funding opportunities
- Analyse the cost of operations
- Plan capital purchases or other investments
- Strategize how to scale their business
In order to capitalise on having an accountant, it’s important to make sure that they can grow with your business. You may only need the basics of accounting covered when you’re just starting out – things like bookkeeping, reports and tax compliance (we can do this for as little as £99 a month). But once you start to grow and acquire more clients, your needs will become more complicated.
You might need to take on staff. This means managing Payroll, National Insurance and Pension schemes.
Maybe you need to upgrade to a bigger office, workspace or facility. This means thinking about business insurance, utility costs and tax status changes.
Even things like securing funding require an understanding of what investors or creditors are looking for in your financials.
Make sure you ask your accountant if these are services they are able to provide (or check out our CFO plan).
WANT SOME HELP WITH THAT?
Hiring an accountant and growing your business are mutually inclusive. And while you may not be able to afford an in-house accountant, outsourcing this important task is more affordable than ever.
Addition’s CORE plan (which you can get for £99 a month) can help get you started. We’ll provide you with the tools and support you need to grow your business.
And since we know there’s no one-size-fits-all business model, we let you tailor our plans as well (think main menu + side orders). Until you get so big, you don’t need us anymore.
Why not hop on a free call with us today – and see how we can help you regain those 12 extra days this year?