As business owners, we are always looking for ways to become more productive. Too often, however, we can’t implement great time-saving ideas because of the daily grind of running a business. Fortunately, using some online tools and adopting a few simple habits make it possible to develop a more efficient business without a major investment of your time or money.
Here are 5 ideas that will help your business run more efficiently, increase revenue, and give you the time you need to focus on your actual work:
Use Cloud Services for Free
Don’t waste time sending updates and changes by email or making comments inside of a Word document when free cloud storage solutions are available to sync your files automatically. Services like Dropbox and Google Drive work on all types of devices, no matter what the data is or the changes applied.
Using cloud services also makes it easier to backup your files regularly, even if you want to create a redundant backup on an external hard drive. It’s a good idea to keep a copy of all important files away from your computer in case anything should happen to it.
Use Accounting Programs
If you have overlooked accounting tasks in the past, then you understand the hassle it creates when it’s tax time. Regardless of how intensive your last-minute effort becomes, there is a good chance you will lose out on some tax deductions if you are trying to create annual reports and gather the required documentation of your expenses too quickly. This is a major reason many business owners choose to use accounting programs regularly throughout the year.
In addition to saving you time during tax season, being organized in accounting software generally helps reduce how much you owe in taxes. You can also contract the services of an accountant online for a reasonable fee to offload the monthly task of managing income and expenses.
Set Up Automatic Payments
Every business owner needs to ensure cash flow to keep the doors open and remain successful. Your revenue stream is directly tied to how fast you get paid by clients and vendors. Strive to implement an automated payment process to avoid chasing down payments. Take a look below at three ways to streamline payments:
If you use PayPal to send client invoices, configure a custom link for each client. As they click to submit a payment, all of their company information will automatically populate the fields and pay with a PayPal balance, credit card, or checking account. The fewer the fields to fill out, the faster you receive their payment.
If you already use an accounting service, you can automate your recurring client and vendor invoices by creating an online invoice template and schedule. After you have entered their company information, set your billing amount and schedule when you want to have the invoices sent every month. You’ll receive timely payments and save time upfront since you won’t be manually making invoices.
If you work on a regular basis with a client you should ask them to add your name to their payroll as if you were one of their employees. Being part of a payroll system means you’ll be paid consistently and at the same time every month. You don’t have to bother sending invoices and the client doesn’t have to do extra administrative work to pay you–everyone wins.
Write Down Everything
Although we’d all like to think we can remember every last detail, the reality is that with our busy lives as business owners–forgetting something important is inevitable. Start jotting everything down in your business and personal life–this is known to be very beneficial. Include notes for yourself, always writing down the date and time. It could come in handy if you are contesting an expense or requesting a refund.
Using an online calendar is a great starting point for appointments, but managing all the details and deadlines can get tricky. Supplement your regular calendar with a digital task management system. Many are free and will sync automatically so you can handle specific tasks wherever you are.
Create a Plan for Emergencies
What happens if your computers go out for the day or you don’t have internet access? What about a family emergency or personal sickness? You need to set up your business to thrive even if something chaotic is going on, which means setting up emergency protocols.
There is no need to have more stress from your business when trying to handle any type of issue. Use software to create an emergency plan that outlines every step to take if you have to step away from the business for some time. Share this information with your team and any clients you work with regularly. Be sure to include all pertinent contact information and procedures so your business can keep running without your presence.
Streamline Your Business
Putting these ideas in place and working with the right online tools can help your business become more efficient. It takes a small amount of time to set up these systems, but once they are implemented you will appreciate the savings in money and time.
This post was contributed by Susan Ranford.