What Business Tasks are You Hanging onto … and Why?

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It’s Saturday night in Reno, and instead of doing something interesting or entertaining, I’m sorting out my bookkeeping records. I have (as usual) left things for far too long, and the stack of records is impressively huge. I’m not having any fun.

My accounting records are definitely the thing about my business that I hate the most. In my very early days of operating a business, I thought I’d be smart. I hired a friend who was a bookkeeper to help me set up my records and get started. That way I’d get started off right … right?

Wishful thinking. To make a long story short, my bookkeeper left town. Before she left, she called me to pick up my stuff … which she left in a black garbage bag on her porch. Months and months worth of receipts and data, unsorted and unentered. I was way behind, stressed, and feeling desperate. So, naturally, I decided to do the books myself. (Don’t you love panic-thinking?)

The problem is I’m not a bookkeeper. I did some courses in school, and I know just enough to be dangerous. I screwed them up until I met my current CPA, who was gracious enough to take me and my mess on. We developed a system that involved me doing part of the work and her doing the rest (mainly due to physical proximity – she’s 1300 miles away). It’s worked okay for awhile, but not anymore. The system only works when I do my part and, to be honest, when I have down time these days, catching up the books isn’t high on my list of things to do instead.

As I was working on cleaning things up today (and hoping I can find all of the missing receipts), I asked myself, “Why am I still hanging onto this task?”

I know I’m not alone. I’d say that in 3 out of 5 strategy calls that Diane and I do, “getting rid of the books” features somewhere in the call. Why is it that so many of us believe we “have” to do the books, despite the fact that we usually have little (if any) training in bookkeeping, we don’t like it, we procrastinate and leave things until they’re in a mess AND we recognize the importance of good book- and record-keeping?

What makes this even worse is that I just entered into a new strategic partnership with Bill and Laura Bourbonnais, where one of the expanded service offerings is bookkeeping and tax services. So … again … WHY???

I don’t have a clear answer. I’m guessing it’s a combination of habit, unrealistic self-expectations (of COURSE I can do it all myself) and the lingering fear of someone working me over again. But none of those answers are particularly logical, nor do they stand up to any real scrutiny. And if the best I’ve got is “I don’t know,” then there’s no reason to hang onto this task.

So how about the rest of you? When you look at the list of things you do in your business, do you have one or two task that fall into the “No fun” category? If you do, why are you hanging onto them? Do you have a good reason? Or, is it time to look at letting those tasks go to someone else?


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