Get your house in order and kickstart 2021 properly
Your New Year’s resolution to get out and do more exercise might have been scuppered by the advent of a third national lockdown, but at least you can still focus on getting your business shipshape in 2021.
If you’re anything like us, it’s probably when you finally have a bit of downtime that the best ideas come to you. “When I get back to the office,” you say, “I’m going to get that sorted.”
In practice, big plans often fall by the wayside, but big changes are made up of lots of little ones along the way, and every small improvement you find the time to make will be worth the effort in the long run.
Talk to your team
Before you launch into making improvements, the start of the year is a great time to get your colleagues together (virtually, of course)while they’re in a reflective mood.
Encourage them to be open and honest – where are they wasting time, getting frustrated or being blocked?
In an ideal world, how would they see things working? Which tools would help them do their jobs better and help your business make more money?
You’d be surprised how often great ideas emerge from these conversations. You won’t be able to act on all of them, of course, but listening sends a powerful message.
Review, improve and document processes
Flawed, inconsistent or unclear policies can be a major cause of inefficiency and frustration, especially with teams working remotely.
Worse, it can filter through to clients, who don’t receive what they’re expecting, when they expect it, at the quality they demand.
Taking a bit of time to pin down who is responsible for what and the flow of work around the business can save hours. This clarity can also reduce stress – a cause of inefficiency in its own right.
Time spent thinking about processes also tends to flush out problems and prompt improvements.
Even better, if you can, is to turn those processes into systems. Task management apps, such as monday.com or Trello, are a light-touch way to give visibility and make it easier to track the progress of jobs through the team.
And remember, you don’t have to tackle everything at once –document one process at a time and, before you know it, they’ll all be done.
Automate repeated tasks
On a related note, there’s a simple rule: if you find yourself manually fudging something every week or every month, that’s a sign that it’s time to invest in automation.
This is easier than ever with cloud accounting and the trend for universal software integration.
For example, why not automate billing by integrating your accounting system with your customer relationship management (CRM) software? You can even automate the chasing of unpaid invoices – a major source of cashflow issues for small businesses.
Save time with tidy data
Finally, to make the above possible, you’re going to need the information in your databases to be up-to-date and orderly.
First, it’s good practice to avoid keeping unnecessary customer data, so start by purging old fields. Do you need to keep fax numbers in 2021? Is there information on services or products you no longer offer? Clear it out.
Remember, when it comes to financial data, be careful –limited companies have to keep records going back six years from the end of the last company financial year they relate to.
Next, think about any fields it would be useful to add. What information will make automation easier? Or help you generate more business?
Then consolidate data sources. Get paper documents scanned; get information out of dodgy old spreadsheets on hard drives and into your accounting software or CRM; and try to reduce the number of databases across the board.
Finally, spend some time – a day or two, maybe – going through records to update them and make them consistent.
Switch, renegotiate, cancel
One last tip: it’s easy for subscriptions to roll on out of plain inertia, whether it’s for software or services. The start of the year is a good time to pause and think about what your business really needs and the neither switch suppliers, renegotiate fees or cancel altogether.
Your cashflow will thank you.
If you want to talk about how your business could be operating more efficiently, and more profitably, get in touch to arrange a consultation.