Keep Yourself and Your Business Agile With These Tips On Keeping It Together
Small business owners are the masters of responsibility. From innovation to planning, documentation to ordering, human resources to staff scheduling, small business owners often singlehandedly manage every detail of their company. While this close, intricate connectivity has its benefits, it often leads to increased time behind a desk and less time executing the actual purpose or prime function of the business.
This is perhaps the most important element of a fully-operational business. Numbers, accounting, and financial planning aren’t easy concepts to master and often require a great amount of time and dedication. Fortunately, not all number-crunching needs to be done by hand.
- Tracking, Trending, and Invoicing
Invest in accounting software, like QuickBooks or Peachtree, or, when budgets allow, consider hiring a software developer to custom-build a program specifically for your needs. The latter is a pricier option, but would essentially allow you to choose only the features and capabilities that would be most beneficial to your company. A few accounting systems are compatible with mobile devices, scheduled invoicing, and outsourced billing systems. No paper and pencil required!
- Supply Lists
Manage your inventory by creating a go-to supply spreadsheet. Microsoft Excel has a good selection of free templates in addition to limitless options for customization and data analytics. You can password-protect and share your spreadsheets, as well as export them into PDF formats.
- Mobile Banking
This is an especially useful option for small businesses without a storefront. Client payments can be taken with your smart phone using resources like PayPal or Square. Many banks now allow you to snap a picture of a check and deposit the money directly into your account using a smart phone app. These same apps allow you to pay bills, track spending, and manage your accounts anywhere, anytime.
2. Human Resources
Employers carry a plethora of legal obligations to care for their employees. It can be difficult to manage associate files, resumes, and compensation information. Organizing these files not only saves you time, but creates safeguards against privacy breeches and legal risk.
Some accounting programs have payroll options built into their software. This is a great option for those who appreciate a one-stop shop. Those who prefer a more detailed, customized payroll system can design one using Microsoft Excel. It’s also quite common to outsource payroll, especially for staff sizes of over 50 people.
Policies are important tools for both employers and employees. Take the time to develop your own customized, full-length employee handbook or manual. Create your manual using a word processing program and store it electronically. Electronic formats are easier to update, save time, and save resources. You can also consider hiring a freelance writer to create your manual for you. For a flat fee, they can save you weeks worth of time and sometimes offer discounts on updates to their work.
One of the first things to fall off the radar when businesses gets busy is marketing. Who has time to Tweet, post, blog, make fliers, and attend events when you have clients to attend to and orders to fill? Easy answer: automate!
- Social Media
Did you know you can schedule your Tweets? As a matter of fact, when you type “how to schedule” into Google, the first four Google suggestions that pop up pertain to Twitter, Facebook posts, and Google Hangouts. Social media platforms recognize the importance of easy, appealing access and allow many standalone services to function cohesively within their forums. Develop a number of well-worded, well-received posts and recycle them every now and then. Set up your post schedule to coincide with peak audience times and days of the week.
- Community Presence
We have yet to develop the robot clone, so unfortunately this tip falls back on pure, simple, unautomated organization. Grab your community’s yearly schedule of events and plan ahead. Keep the important events saved on your calendar and set reminders so you can prepare for each event well ahead of time. Stick to your plan and realize while you can’t always participate in every marketing event, you can commit and execute at 100% for a few strategically-chosen acquisition opportunities.
As with community events, schedule your blogs at the same time every week. Keep a running list of blog topics and snap pictures of your work and business-related interests with your camera phone. Ghostwriters and guest bloggers are wonderful resources; consider offering the opportunity to write for your business to a group of bloggers looking for a content boost. They are often affordable, relatable, and traffic-inducing.
4. Client Relations
First and last impressions are critical components of any small business. A disorganized greeting or setup can easily send your prospects into the arms of your competitor. Likewise, thoughtful follow up can make the difference between a loyal, repeat customer and a one-time gig. It pays (literally) to perfect your client relations.
Online calendar and reminder systems are a must-have for any small business owner. Link your online calendar with your phone and receive updates and reminders while you’re on the go. Electronic calendars such as Microsoft Outlook are compatible with clients around the world and automatically adjust for time zones. Organize meetings, schedule client interviews, and track appointments from one easy-to-use, concise calendar program.
- Contact Info
When at all possible, record your client’s information in a secure, protected place. Consider using Evernote to snap pictures of business cards, store information about leads, and virtually log details about your customers.
Use electronic surveys to gain invaluable feedback about your business’ performance and opportunities for development. SurveyMonkey is free and easy to use. Set up your questions, shoot the link over to your clients, and analyze your results once or twice a month, depending on feedback volume.
Running a business is rewarding; managing everything is challenging. Reduce the amount of time spent on administrative tasks by trying a few of the organization tricks above. Even if the effort only saves five minutes a day, that’s five minutes you can spend on something you are passionate about. Imagine the possibilities and harness the power of organized productivity.