Running a small business is rewarding...but it is also a time-consuming endeavor. Often it may feel like there is an endless to-do list of things that must be done, but there just isn't enough time in the day to accommodate it at all.
In fact, according to a recent Constant Contact survey of small business owners, over 40% percent reported that they do not have time to take vacation, and 40% reported that they are unable to spend enough quality time with family and friends.
While there are definitely tasks that demand a lot more time and attention, there are many things that can definitely be revisited to see if they should take up the amount of time they currently do. Periodically, it might be worth reevaluating your daily schedule, and seeing where there are opportunities to mitigate time spent on activities. Here are 3 quick tips to help fuel that thought process:
1) Automation is key
There are many processes, especially on the financial side of operations that are better off automated. Here are just a few that may benefit from being automated, rather than dedicating manual resources to them.
- Invoicing: There are now a multitude of softwares available for automating the invoice process. The most commonly used tends to be Quickbooks Online, since it lets users automatically generate invoices, e-mail or print. It is generally very intuitive and easy to use, and can quickly be integrated into financial processes
- Accounts Receivable: There are currently many softwares in the market that will also help in automating this system. PayPal and Square are great for setting up recurring credit card charges, and other important payments. With these many choices, there really is no reason to continue to do these payments manually.
- Expense Tracking: Admittedly, data tracking for expense reports is a time-consuming, and onerous process. In fact, a recent report by Expensivy stated that an average employee will spend between 30-40 hours just on expense reporting. However, automating that process via the Expensify app for Quickbooks Online saves employees countless hours. Instead of spending copious amounts of time tracking down reports, coding receipts and writing checks, let the app take care of that. As a bonus, employees won’t even need to manually enter the receipt - they can snap pictures through the app and upload automatically. No more keeping little slips of paper tucked away somewhere and trying to find them later!
- Bookkeeping: Once you integrate your bookkeeping with Quickbooks, it will significantly reduce the amount of time you spend painstakingly entering transactions
2) A strong credit policy needs to be implemented
Collecting past due invoices is an incredibly unpleasant, and costly process. If this is a reoccurring issue, it may be time to reevaluate your credit policies. Give careful thought on how to enable timely payment as soon as the service or sale is made...rather than thirty days later.
Also, if delinquent accounts continue to be an issue, you may want to consider turning the worst offenders over to a collection agency. An accountant or bookkeeper will be a valuable resource in implementing this, as they can help construct a credit policy that works with your business model, and advice on how to handle this issue going forward.
3) Train or hire personnel to help manage finances
Many small business owners make the mistake of trying to do everything themselves, but end up not being able to really conquer it all. Instead, invest your time in finding the right team to help manage finances.
If you decide to DIY it, you'll need to end up spending at least 15 hours a month - it'll something that nags you in the back of your head, and you won't be able to focus on other aspects of your business.
You have a few options for how best to go about this. Some choose to hire college or grad students majoring in accounting for most bookkeeping. Obviously there is a trust and experience factor involved and there will be some tasks you will not be able to delegate them, but they could end up gaining some great experience while reducing some of the load off your shoulders.
The other option is to work experienced CPAs and bookkeepers, and leverage their expertise to better serve your business. Some CPAs may choose to charge an hourly rate, others like us offer an all-in-one service. For a flat monthly fee, we take the books completely out of your hand - from invoicing, to taxes, we'll handle it all.
However, in either scenario, consider the investment in time as well. You will need to have spend 20 or more hours in training, and ultimately reduce your hours in finances to about 4. Initially it may seem like a major time commitment, but with time, it will definitely reduce.