Streamline your business for summer

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As we move towards the halfway point of the year, now is the perfect time for small businesses to organize their finances and streamline business processes for the coming months. David Robertson, chief executive of Bibby Financial Services, advises SMEs to take this time out to improve administrative procedures and streamline their processes in order to reap significant business benefits in the long-term.

In today's busy workplace, owners and managers can become so bogged down with day-to-day activities, that long-term plans and best business practices are swept into the corner and forgotten.

Bibby Financial Services has developed the following checklist to help owners and managers get their businesses in order to help them survive and thrive for years to come.

1. Review the clutter
Pull out your paperwork, look over invoices, bank statements, and receipts—and don't panic if you find yourself confronted with a mountain of paper. Unnecessary and untended paperwork will slow your business down in the long run, so knowing where you stand is half the battle.

2. Divide and conquer
Separate paperwork into manageable piles. Throw out what you no longer need, catch up with your invoicing, meticulously work through files until you have a clean slate and clear view of your bookkeeping. Time spent organizing now is time saved later.

3. Detox your desktop
Keep only the relevant information that you are working on at the moment on your desk and keep personal items to a minimum to prevent your mind from wandering. Clearing the decks will help you concentrate more on the tasks at hand.

4. Clear your computer
See the wood from the trees by having a good sort out of your computer and deleting all spam and junk emails that you do not need. Act on any urgent messages and organize the rest in relevant files.

5. Get your business plan out of storage
With your day to day administrative work organized, you now have the opportunity to look at your long term plan. Revisit your business plan and review. Is there anything that can be improved? Have you followed your budget? If not, how can you get back on track?

6. Reassess your suppliers
When was the last time you negotiated prices with your suppliers? Many companies get familiar with suppliers and forget to push them for bulk or loyalty discounts. Think what effect a five or ten per cent reduction in costs could have on your profits. Take another look at the market place and discover what new suppliers are charging to see if you are getting a fair price.

7. Be efficient
By taking a few moments to record all your ongoing projects, it will be easier to prepare an accurate invoice and will save you time in the long run. Always ask your customer for a purchase order number and quote it on your invoice. Prepare the invoice immediately after the job has finished and be very clear about your payment terms.

8. Sort out your cash flow
Is your business funding slowing down your firm's growth plans? If so, consider more innovative funding solutions. A bank overdraft that is repayable on demand may destroy any momentum you have built up. Consider invoice finance; it frees up your cash flow by releasing up to 85% of the value of your outstanding invoices as soon as you issue them. The invoice financier then chases payment for you – freeing up your time.

9. Put your accountant on speed dial
An accountant can help you get your systems in order; some will also give business advice. Plus, they provide a range of tax services. If you don't yet have an accountant - start looking! If you are worried about fee levels, make sure you get quotes before appointing your chosen firm or individual.

10. Harness people power
Review your staffing levels and identify any potentially significant skills gaps within your workforce that are holding your business back. Research and consider external training courses to boost the skills and improve motivation and morale, by investing in your existing staff.

Managing a small business can be a daunting task. Many simply don't have the resources to deal with day-to-day administrative tasks required just to survive. By taking the time out to organize your office and investing in efficient solutions, you can minimize your future administrative burden and refocus your efforts on business basics and long-term goals.

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This article appeared on our sister site, BusinessZone.


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