Know when to get a helping hand

Brian Kelso

From my experience working with many successful business owners, there are four key areas where a business can benefit from outside assistance:

1) Managing the books

For many new business owners, keeping the books on their own is the best way to carefully watch expenses and manage cash flow.

It’s easier than ever with the number of accounting software programs and online banking tools available to monitor the inflow and outflow of cash in your business accounts. Yet hiring a bookkeeper or accountant – even on a part-time basis – to review your numbers and balance accounts, can pay for itself as you free up time to focus on important business operations, sales and marketing activities.

Another set of eyes checking the numbers can help you minimize errors, and spot trends to make better cash flow decisions and more effectively manage payables and receivables.

2) Receiving payments

You might think offering your customers multiple ways to pay is not important or too expensive, but being able to accept a range of options, such as credit and debit cards, can encourage prompt payment, simplify your cash flow and reduce collection costs.

Most small businesses reach a point when customers will seek the convenience of more payment choices. When your business is ready, look for a merchant services provider that can customize processing options to your industry and specific needs – including all the software, hardware and supporting services (such as fraud protection) that add up to a complete solution.

3) Processing payroll

Even if you have just a handful of employees, a dedicated payroll provider can save time and effort by providing automated time and attendance solutions, ensuring accurate calculations and filings, keeping you in compliance with hundreds of regulations and assuming the liability if something goes wrong.

To avoid a payroll-related tax penalty this year, it’s important to have professional support. By trusting this critical function to your bank, you can also combine payroll processing with online banking for added convenience.

4) Managing employee benefits

Small businesses that attract and retain the best talent do more than issue a paycheck. In addition to offering competitive pay and fulfilling work, being an employer of choice can mean providing benefits, such as retirement plans. Yet the array of options available can be confusing and overwhelming, making an experienced employee benefits adviser essential.

A financial service provider can help you identify the benefits plan that best fits your business – whether it’s a 401(k) or Simple IRAs – and give you the expert guidance to make sure you have everything you need.

Almost all small business owners reach a point when they need to ask: Am I spending too much time on tasks that take me away from running my company and working with customers? If you’re still clinging to too many tasks that can be done better by outside help, maybe it’s time to get a helping hand.

Brian Kelso is Wells Fargo’s Business Banking manager for Vancouver. He can be reached at 503.886.1445 or

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