How Do I Choose the Best Small Business Services?

Malcolm Tatum

Choosing the right small business services can make the task of making the most of limited resources much easier. By choosing services that are capable of dealing with essential tasks like payroll, taxes, customer service, and information technology support, in-house employees can focus more on growing the company through sales efforts, managing the tasks of production, and other responsibilities that keep the business viable. In order to select the right small business services, it is important to understand how each possible partner will manage those outsourced tasks, make sure the process is in keeping with your own company culture, and that the cost of outsourcing those functions will in fact be more efficient that attempting to manage the tasks in-house.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

In order to begin the search for the right small business services, identify the tasks that you want to outsource. Many small companies find that using services to manage payroll and tax withholding functions are very helpful. In addition, accounting firms that provide accounts payable and receivable services may be a good fit. Contracting with an information technology service to maintain your servers and computers, as well as to troubleshoot issues and install new software, may also be much more cost effective than keeping an IT professional on the full-time staff.

After identifying which small business services you want, take some time to investigate different companies offering those services. Check with the local chamber of commerce to locate services such as payroll or customer service providers, or even accounting and computer support services. Contact each of the services that seem like a possible fit, and make arrangements to discuss what they have to offer in more detail.

When evaluating each of the services contacted, make it a point to understand the schedule of charges and what functions are covered by those charges. For example, if an IT company offers system support for a flat fee each month, find out exactly what type of support is included in the monthly fee. While most types of maintenance tasks may be included in that fee, it is a good idea to know in advance how much it would cost per hour to extract data from a crashed server, or to set up and configure additional work stations.

Have some idea of what type of response time you can expect from the business services under consideration. The idea is to make sure they can respond to requests and complete tasks in a time frame that is in line with the way you do business. For instance, it is helpful to know if a payroll service can receive information on hourly employees by noon on Tuesday and still have the payroll processed and the direct deposits showing up in employee’s bank accounts by Friday morning.

Before making a final decision on the selection of small business services, get feedback from those who have used the services in the past. Ask for references and don’t hesitate to follow up on them. Use the Internet to check with consumer reporting agencies and business bureaus to make sure the partners you have in mind are financially stable and have a good reputation in their fields. This will help avoid getting involved with any small business services that may be less than efficient and make it easier to choose services that will enhance your business operation rather than be a source of trouble.

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