Aah, the dreaded accounting function of the business. As if growing the business is not enough, you have to allocate some of your time to accounting and other admin related topics. Make no mistake, keeping proper records of your company finances are not only recommended by experts, it is also required by law.

A large amount of small business owners keeps their own books in order, or at least try to. Some of the busier and bigger small businesses can afford a full time bookkeeper, or in some cases outsource this function to a service provider.

For those brave and daring souls that opt to take care of the accounting themselves, whilst running their own business, kudos to you. There are plenty of free or cheap accounting software available to use, and if you do the accounts yourself, you may just have a free finance function.

But let’s be honest. You are too busy to try and balance the books yourself. You would rather have a bookkeeper do it who truly knows what they are doing and will take good care of you. This, however is going to mean that you will have to pay someone to do it for you. Don’t have a lot of wiggle room in your budget? Don’t fret, here are some affordable accounting solutions to ensure your books are in order, you get to focus on the fun parts of business and your piggy bank remains unharmed.

Option 1: Hire a temporary bookkeeper

These are people who will offer their bookkeeping services to you in exchange for an hourly rate. They are very inexpensive and can perform pretty much any basic bookkeeping task. If you only need them to come in once a month, or every fortnight, then the cost really goes down. This option is not great for someone who requires a lot from their bookkeeper, like regular daily updates, physical presence on a regular basis, etc. Just keep in mind that the lower the cost of the bookkeeper, the lower the perceived knowledge or experience is of that bookkeeper. Of course this is not always the case, as you may just get a very good deal.

Option 2: Ask a friend or family member to do the books

Perhaps a friend or family member took accounting at school and have the basic skills to keep your records up to date. Or better yet, they have a bookkeeping or accounting qualification. The fee can be negotiated with them and in most cases come in pretty cheap. Some people do not prefer this option due to possible conflicts that may arise between the friend or family member when business and money gets involved. Also keep in mind that statutory compliance is also required and taxes can become too technical for them to handle.

Option 3: Outsource to an accounting firm

Today in South Africa, there are quite a few accounting firms that are more than capable to help you keep the books. The main downside of this option is that there are very little face-time with the accountant, especially the office bound ones. The advantage of this option is that you get a team of experienced people, and in some cases accounting elites like chartered accountants. More and more mobile accounting firms are popping up, and with accounting software that is pushing full automation, the fees are also very competitive.

I am sure there are plenty other options to get your books in order without breaking the bank. No matter what option you choose, always start with: “what is it that I need”. The more updated the info you need, the more time you will require from an accountant, which will drive up the price. But if you are one of those people that doesn’t really care too much about accounting, but only want it to be done, then you can go for the cheapest option under the sun.