If you can’t find an assistant to do the full range of tasks you need, or if a VA is too pricey, here are a few lower-cost options to consider:
- Use other business services. While these businesses charge more than you would pay an employee, using outside services for tasks like marketing or Web development can still save you money since you pay only for the service you need when you need it.
- Try barter or exchange services. Bartering is the cashless exchange of services in which you offer your services in return for someone else’s. This is a great way to keep costs down or get assistance you couldn’t otherwise afford. Consider joining a barter club that will link you with other service people who want to barter. Barter clubs keep a credit balance for you so when you provide a service to one member, you get credit to receive services from any other member. There is usually a startup fee involved. Find these clubs through search engines.
The IRS considers any business service you get through bartering to be income, but the business services you provide through bartering are deductible as business expenses. So keep records of your exchanges and claim values that represent actual market rates.
- Get help from family members. Asking family members to help with simple tasks in your home office, like filing and cleaning, can be a good way for them to be part of your business while keeping your costs down. You can ask for volunteers or offer a wage. And hiring your children actually has a tax advantage. Your child’s salary is a deductible business expense, and his or her earnings are taxed at a much lower rate than yours. Below a certain amount each year, there is no tax on their earnings.
- Call on clients and suppliers. Sometimes you can use or buy the services of other companies you’re working with. These companies may be happy to let you purchase services from them like mailings, word processing or duplicating to help offset their overhead. Or they may be willing to let you use their company services without an additional charge or as part of your fee.
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