Small business owners have to be adaptable; when their operation is successful, they need to have access to enough quality staff to maintain maximum productivity, and when there are dips in their business they need to know how to again maintain operations but often with decreased staff and reduced budgets. For small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) one tool of assistance is the managed service provider (MSP) to whom the SMB can outsource some of its operational responsibilities, with an eye toward cost-management. MSPs that provide accounting services are one such tool, and for tax time, and beyond, the use of an accounting service such as these can prove invaluable.
SMBs have traditionally been the user of managed accounting services for issues of tax compliance and annual handling of tax filing, but not much more. Larger accounting firms have not typically considered the SMB to be their key client; quite frankly, the SMB simply lacks the funds of bigger organizations, and year-round accounting services have not been and can not be utilized to the extent of these other companies. It’s a sort-of two-way street wherein the large-scale accounting services weren’t catering to or trying to amass a relationship with the SMBs and the SMBs, in turn, weren’t considering the benefit that an accounting service could provide them for times of the year beyond tax season.
Enter the MSP into this accounting-SMB scenario. The MSP that addresses the opportunities that exist within the SMB community will assist with so much more than mere compliance and tax issues. There are vast opportunities for outsourced assistance with payroll, benefits and invoicing needs, for examples. In fact, the MSP that is utilized by the SMB can, in addition to the aforementioned payroll and HR concerns, manage:
• Accounts payable and receivable
• Request for proposal (RFP)
• Unemployment insurance
• Currency exchange
• Budgetary projections and planning
• More distinct, higher-level financial activities
Ease-of-access and around-the-clock connection to online portals are other benefits of the MSP for SMB accounting-type services. In fact, the very structure of an MSP is one that addresses the need for both outsourced management yet accessible information for the SMB. The SMB should be able to utilize its MSP services at any point of the day, which actually sets MSPs apart from more traditional accounting services.
Australian accounting services provider The Proactive Accountants Network is launching US-based operations, sensing the void that exists for SMBs to find quality access to specified accounting and business advisory services. Dan Berthiaume blogs that the Australian company is essentially a franchise operation that would train accountants to handle specific SMB concerns. MSPs, he suggests, have a grand opportunity at their fingertips to not necessarily compete with The Proactive Accountants Network but to identify that SMBs have differing needs: they are not a large-sized business, nor are they one-man operations, or individual clients. MSPs should poise themselves prepared to offer any of the myriad services (as listed above) that a SMB could outsource to them.