It rather comes with the territory of running a small business that your time will no longer be your own. The list of tasks, demands and business goals will seem endless and it can be hard to work out what to prioritise at any one time. The answer to making the very best out of your time is to streamline your business. Make every hour, every penny and every task count by cutting down on the surrounding noise, distractions and unnecessary admin.
Once you have freed yourself from extraneous work, you will be pleasantly surprised by how your brain will whir with new ideas, ambitions and ways of doing things. Here are seven ways to help you streamline your business and press on towards success.
Time equals money
Whether you are a sole trader or employ people to work alongside you, make sure that you are keeping track of how you use your time. While it may seem counterintuitive to block off regular time to check your progress, update your to-do lists and record your daily tasks, this can help you streamline your operations and spot patterns in the way you work that could reveal areas where you can save time doing things in a different way. For example, you may discover that you are spending far too long on repetitive tasks, such as invoicing or admin, that could be outsourced.
When it comes to managing receipts for expense and tax return purposes, this is another area that you can streamline quite easily and so free up valuable time for you and your accountant or bookkeeper. Software such as receipt Bank lets you scan paper receipts into the system from your smartphone or other mobile device so that the information is stored away safely straight away. Receipt Bank can also send the numerical information from the receipt directly to your account ting software, further streamlining your accounting and expenses management function.
Savvy sales force
Putting together an excellent sales team is a crucial investment for a business of any size, however a small business will reap rewards from putting together such a key resource. Having sales people on your payroll can free up lots of your time previously spent driving leads and take your services and products out into the world for you. Not only that, but they will be trained in the task, so can perform it more effectively in a shorter space of time. Hiring the right sales person, or team, is pivotal to the growth of any business.
Everyone is encouraging businesses to cut down on the paper they use, from ecological supporters to streamlining experts. It makes sense to do away with the bulky filing cabinets in favour of cloud-based digital storage solutions. So, make it a goal to stop printing out emails, sending as many client communications digitally, create PDFs for proofreading and approvals processes and dedicating more resources to online tools, such as your website and social media outlets for advertising and news updating purposes. Scan any documents that need to be circulated to your whole team and upload them to a shared drive for easy access, rather than simply walking over to the photocopier yet again.
Close to home
Travelling for meetings can take up a huge chunk of your day, so another great way to streamline your business is to aim to conduct more meeting remotely, via phone, video conferencing or over the internet. Cut down on the number of conferences and seminars you attend in person and log on remotely instead. If you simply have to meet someone else in person, can you arrange to meet them halfway between your two locations? Or tie in several meetings on one day so you make the most of being in a certain place.
Empower your employees
You have presumably only employed people whom you trust to act in the best interest of your business, so don’t make your own life harder by micromanaging them, or not allowing them to help your business grow with ideas of their own. So, give them greater freedom to work from home, rather than waste time looking over their shoulder. Conversely, keep in close contact with them with regards to their overall progress to make sure any problems are sorted out quickly and any successes noted and praised.
A happier employee will tend to put more effort into their ongoing work, thus adding to the streamlined effect of a hard-working team. Invest in their training to help them improve and thus add to the efficacy of your overall operations. Have excellent IT support on hand to troubleshoot any problems with their computer and other electronic devices that could delay productivity.
Go digitalFinally, an excellent way to streamline a small business is to embrace the digital age and its many technological advances. Consolidate your various software packages so that they ‘talk’ to each other and use IT to automate laborious tasks, such as database management, mass mailings and invoicing. Use Receipt Bank to keep track of expenses digitally to help the books balance when reconciling your accounts. Keep on top of your social media by using automated tools to schedule posts and updates. If you are a manufacturer or retailer, invest in a good stock management system so that you know what you have got going out and coming in at any one time.