Monday, February 1, 2010

Some Businesses Just Don’t Get It

On Saturday I met with my new accountant to begin making heads or tails of all the stuffed envelopes filled with receipts, copies of checks, banks statements and other miscellaneous 2009 tax paraphernalia.

**A word to the wise, new and aspiring freelancers: ALWAYS keep detailed records and keep everything organized. That way tax time will not become the paper strewn nightmare for you that it is for me…

As he and I discussed details of my business, he became curious and asked more questions about the services I provide. Out of nowhere he suggested that I consider outsourcing work to other writers and graphic/web designers in foreign countries. He specifically recommended going with India. He proudly stood behind this advice 100 % since that’s what he was doing.

He’s an older gentleman who’s been in the business for many years. I’ve been receiving newsletters and other direct mail from his establishment since we moved into this neighborhood 11 years ago. My old accountant is no longer offering her services, so I decided to begin working with this new accountant based on his years of experience, community reputation and familiarity working with solo professionals like myself.

When he suggested that I utilize the much cheaper services of foreign entrepreneurs, I immediately launched into an explanation of how language variances could compromise the quality of his marketing materials. He simply waved his hand at me as if to say, “Oh, you’re exaggerating,” and moved right along to his next tax question. ***Sigh***

I know that there are plenty of businesses out there that appreciate the services of a quality writer and aren’t looking to pay pennies for these services. The sad thing is here is a business in my own community choosing foreign writers for cheap rates over the many qualified copywriters in his community. Honestly, I have no problem with his choosing to work with foreign writers – his marketing materials are actually well-written and quite professional. It’s the fact that he devalues what it takes to create these materials and will do whatever it takes to avoid paying standard industry rates.

Ironically, here I am choosing to pay a qualified CPA more money to do my taxes instead of running to the nearest H and R Block. My husband passed him one of my business cards anyway, but I hope he loses it. I’m too busy marketing to businesses that can see the value in what I provide.


Lori said...

What a clueless person! So if you were to say "Why don't I just outsource my tax work to India?" what would he have said? Or better yet, "My husband wanted me to spend money with you, but honestly, Turbo Tax is so much cheaper - I think we're done here."

If he devalues you, find another accountant. There's no need to work with someone who dismisses your trade, even indirectly.

Kimberly Ben said...

Our meeting was a free consultation. Honestly, I haven't made up my mind between an accountant and Turbo Tax. The only reason I hesitate to use Turbo Tax is because I formed an LLC last summer and need to separate my earnings for the time I was a sole proprietor from when I became and LLC. I hear it's pretty simple so maybe I should give it a try.

Devon Ellington said...

A, I agree with you.

B, considering how many people are out of work in this country, I think any company who outsources until our own unemployment rate falls below a half a percent should be fined up the ying-yang.

I've had clients include clauses in the contract specifically forbidding me to outsource, whether it's in country or not, and I agree with them. They are paying me for the unique quality I bring to the work.

Kimberly Ben said...

Devon said: "I think any company who outsources until our own unemployment rate falls below a half a percent should be fined up the ying-yang."

Bingo. That's what I told my husband in so many words. That's a huge reason behind our ridiculously high unemployment numbers now!

Carson said...

I'm going to stay out of the outsourcing/UE/politics debate, but I will say this...

I'd walk.

It's not just that he disagrees with your perspective (you're paying him to correctly count beans, not to love your business model), it's the fact that he seemed so dismissive that would bug me.

Personally, I prefer not to spend my money with jerks unless there's no viable alternative--and even if your taxes are a little more of a load than what you want to personally handle, it's unlikely this fella is the only person capable of figuring things out with you.

Life's too short to waste precious hours or resources with jackasses.

Kimberly Ben said...

Yes, Carson, life IS too short. I've decided to find a new accountant.

T.W. Anderson said...

I've never had a problem with outsourcing. Companies do what they need to do in order to make a buck. It's not unethical.

Look at it this way. The employee pool is no longer limited to your "local" area. Global is now local. That means employers have access to potential employees from all over the world.

There is a major flaw in your argument. "It’s the fact that he devalues what it takes to create these materials and will do whatever it takes to avoid paying standard industry rates."

Let's look specifically at the lack of understand behind "standard industry rates".

There is no such thing. Standard industry rates by their very definition require a standardized cost of living, a standardized minimum wage, and a standardized tax rate, worldwide. None of those exist. What is "standard" to someone in New York is completely different to someone living in St. Louis, which is completely different from someone living in San Diego. Not to mention, completely different from someone living in Dubai, Frankfurt, London, Stockholm, Sydney, Delhi, or any other international city.

Fine, you don't want to support your accountant because he chooses to use international employees. Are you aware that the average European Union student is graduating from high school 2-3 years beyond the average high school graduate in the United States based upon grades alone? That's not even taking into consideration most international students are not only fluent in a minimum of 2 languages, but many of them are fluent in 3 to 4. This is compared against a country whose high school graduates are lucky if they can read and write their own language, English. Foreign languages are mandatory in the EU. In America, they are optional. By the time they are done with college, most EU students are 4-6 years beyond US graduates given the more extensive nature of education in the EU and other countries around the world.

While you may have talents, so do a wide variety of global individuals. You are not unique. You are not special. Neither am I. I am one fish out of millions. Maybe 10 years ago before global Internet, but in today's market you are competing against individuals who are not only in some cases more educated, but are willing to do the work for a fraction of the price simply because they live in a part of the world where their cost of living is paltry in comparison to the US.

I've written a wide variety of articles on the subject over the past couple of years. Global competition means understanding global standards, and moving beyond the 20th century way of doing things prior to global Internet and a global pool of employees/clients.

Bottom line, I'm with your accountant on this. You are basing your widely misguided opinion on false information. He was right to wave his hand at you and move on to the next question, because it isn't worth arguing with someone who doesn't understand the concept of global localization.

Just remember, standardized rates do not exist. There is no such thing as "industry standard" in the 21st century when everyone around the world is a potential employee. You are no longer competing only with Joe and Sue from the next state over. Now you are competing with Abu and Habime and the guy from Venice and some girl from Rome and another person in Munich and....

Kimberly Ben said...

Hi T.W.,

Thanks for stopping by to comment. I hope I don't come across as someone who thinks my business is unique. All I have to do is Google "freelance writer" and the search results do a good job of revealing the truth.Lol

I do want to be clear, as I stated in my post, that I have no problem with the accountant or any other business working with writers in other countries. The way I see it they have businesses just like I do and they have to make a living. While I do think outsourcing business overseas has a lot to do with the economic downfall of the U.S., perhaps that was to be expected given the fact that technological advances have lead to a global economy.

And in this global economy I suppose you are right - perhaps there is no such thing as standard industry rates for freelance writing or any other business product/service. I stand corrected. That's contributing to a lot of problems. In case you haven't noticed, these economic problems aren't just local, we are facing a global crisis as well.

Although I don't agree with your arguments, you do raise some interesting points and I appreciate your feedback.

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