Happy New Year and can you believe it’s already mid-January? If you’re like me and you’ve come back from the Christmas break feeling motivated and ready to hit to 2016 hard here are a few suggestions to help you ensure 2016 is indeed a prosperous one.
If January is a relatively quiet period for you then now is the perfect time to spend some time planning and implementing some simple, yet effective strategies to make your work life a little simpler and less stressful.
1. Now is the perfect time to sit down and review your budget or if you don’t already have one take some time to actually put one together. I find that budgets are a crucial part of planning not because they are an accurate science but because they provide you with a goal that is easily measureable and can be highly motivating. In my business I write my sales goal on the whiteboard at the beginning of each month and then update the actual figure daily. It’s funny because I find that the months I’m too busy to do this I never reach my goal but the months I make the time to do this I always hit my goal. But there’s the other side of budgets which are just as important, if not more, the expenses side. When I review my budgets I am constantly surprised just how some of my expenses have changed without me quite realising the impact that has on what my sales budget actually should be. Remember if you don’t have a goal you don’t know what you are aiming for.
2. Take a few minutes and open up a separate account to put away money for your GST or tax. This small move is an important one that can make a huge difference to your cash management and stress levels at BAS or tax time. I know many small businesses use the GST they collect to fund their cash flow but the reality is the money doesn’t belong to us as we are merely quasi-tax collectors so it’s a wise practice to put that GST into a separate bank account so you’re not tempted to use it during the quarter. Also, if you’re not paying PAYG instalments to the ATO it’s definitely worth putting some money aside for your tax so you don’t get a massive shock at tax time and end up having to do something drastic like refinance your house, which is what I’ve seen too many people get caught out with.
3. The one thing money can’t buy is time but the good news is you can easily get back at least 10 hours per month by using Bank Feeds. Bank feeds are where your bank transactions are automatically sent directly from your bank and put into your accounting software saving you literally hours in data entry. On top of that you can also setup ‘rules’ so the transactions can then automatically allocate themselves and tada your data entry is done for you. Best of all if you already have an MYOB subscription they are already included in your monthly fee so if you haven’t already signed up to get them do it now!
4. Cash flow is always up there as one of most small business’s major pain points. First it’s ridiculously time consuming and secondly it’s never enjoyable asking your customers for money. Thanks to technology we can now automate this dreadful task. There are numerous software solutions that can now chase outstanding invoices for you automatically – yes I did say automatically – meaning the software seamlessly links to your MYOB file and can send emails, sms’s or letters (depending on the software used) to your customers chasing payment so you can focus on earning more money rather than chasing money you’ve already earned. My favourite is Debtor Daddy who for $29 per month sends emails to my clients based on parameters I’ve pre-set e.g. I’ve setup to send an email if an invoice is 2 days overdue then if it remains unpaid send a follow-up email 5 days after that. Interestingly I’ve found that most people respond to the first reminder and because Debtor Daddy sends the emails overnight I usually wake up to emails in the morning from clients saying “sorry I completely forgot I’ve just paid you now”. The thing I really love about this is that I can setup my own emails so it sounds and feels like it’s coming from me and not from a robot and it took less than 10 minutes to set up yet saves me so much time and angst and gets me paid! I will add that this system works well if you keep your cash receipting up to date otherwise customers will be asked for money when they’ve already paid which isn’t a good look.
5. Finally as small business owner I find myself being the finance manager, the IT manager, the marketing manager, the sales manager and the list goes on. Why do we do this to ourselves? I know I do it because I’m trying to keep costs down but in fact what I’m really doing is spending hours doing task that someone who knows what they’re doing could do in a fraction of the time while I could be focussing on running my business…which is the fun part. There a few things you can easily outsource for relatively little cost that would free up your time and mean that the ‘jobs’ would actually get done, be done in a timely fashion and let’s be honest probably get done properly too. Jobs such as bookkeeping, research, website amendments to name just a few. I have recently discovered WP Curve who for $79 a month do unlimited wordpress website tasks that take less than ½ hour (secret is break jobs down into bite size pieces) or use a service such as Elance to get someone to do customer, competitor or industry research for a few dollars instead of wasting hours trying to do it yourself. Using someone who knows what they’re doing has the added benefit that they can give you ideas, suggestions etc on ways to do things better e.g. a bookkeeper can actually save you time and money by suggesting things you may not even have been aware of such as setting up your superannuation payments directly from your accounting software or getting your bank feeds up and running.