What are your 2020 small business goals? Do you want to increase revenues by 20%, decrease employee turnover, or launch a new product line? While making New Year’s resolutions, you’ve probably either thought of a direction for your business or made a detailed plan.
But have you thought about how you’ll free up the time and resources to support this plan? Whatever your business goals are for the new year, putting in the work to make them happen will likely pull you from other projects or duties. If you’re trying to figure out how you can make this happen without harming your core business, consider automating or outsourcing.
Passing along day-to-day functions to a trusted employee, a web-based tool, or another business allows you, the business owner, to focus on key growth initiatives. Here are some of the easiest and most effective tasks for a small business owner to automate or outsource.
Payroll and Bookkeeping
If you started small, with only one to two employees, it probably made sense to handle payroll and bookkeeping tasks in-house. Processing payroll could have taken less than a half-hour, particularly if you weren’t paying yourself yet. And fitting in the time for bookkeeping tasks like recording bill payment or income might have been easy during downtime.
But, as you’ve grown, devoting time to these chores might have become more of a struggle. As the business owner, your time might be better spent meeting with clients, supervising employees, ordering new stock, or in many other ways that better support your success. Hiring someone else to take care of these administrative tasks will free you up for other work.
It’s important to consider outsourcing these tasks before it’s an urgent need. Why? Because it takes time to transfer your books to a new software program or to train in a new bookkeeper. If you’ve decided to work with your CPA, as many firms have bookkeepers on staff and perform this service for their clients, they will have questions about how you’ve been recording things in the past.
Consider how these mundane but important tasks fit within your overall business plan for 2020. Are you planning for 20% growth and need to hire more employees to support this growth? What months do you forecast for this growth? Schedule an appointment to kick off outsourcing, or plan for it being fully in place before the growth happens.
Automate Payments and Bill Collection
Another way to ease administrative burdens is to automate bookkeeping tasks. If you haven’t already investigated n various cloud-computing and online accounting software programs. Quickbooks, FreshBooks, and others have auto-functions that save you tons of time.
Most major accounting software programs allow you to set up payment reminders on invoices and walk away. The system will send a follow-up notice on unpaid bills, usually via email, for you. No longer do you have to keep track of past due invoices or bills that you owe manually. Tired of taking credit card payments over the phone? Some small business software suites have integrated payment options, too.
Online banking also supports auto-payment, which will save you money in late fees if you often forget to pay bills on-time. Banks have embraced technology, too, and you can set account alerts if your balance dips below a pre-determined threshold, sign up for text messages if a bill hasn’t been paid, or get a push notification of a large deposit.
These tools help run your business more efficiently and allow you to dedicate your time to other projects.
SEO, Website Design, and Marketing
Unless you own an SEO and website design company, and your website serves as your calling card, it makes no sense for you to manage them in-house. There are plenty of independent contractors, and smaller businesses set up to help you outsource this work.
Maintaining a website can be simple or complex, depending upon your business. A web administrator pushes out updates, fix broken links, and monitor speed and performance. It’s unlikely that you need someone on-staff full-time to handle this work, but failing to keep your website up and running could cost you money.
Monitoring SEO and keyword performance, including metrics and site traffic, is a daily job. With search engine algorithms changing often and the need to post updated content regularly, it would be a full-time job for you to keep track of SEO and a content schedule. Content supports SEO in that search engines prefer to see that you’re updating your website regularly. It’s a signal that you’re providing value to website visitors and they should bump your site higher in search results.
But researching keywords, putting together a content marketing plan, and formulating a marketing strategy to reach your target audience is time and experience most business owners don’t have. Partnering with an expert, such as CPA Gardens, to maintain your website, monitor SEO, and market your business ensures success. They have the expertise to put together a great marketing plan and help you reach the customers you’re targeting to grow your business.
Scheduling and Appointments
Do you still book all your client appointments over the phone? If you run a service-based business or one dependent on appointments, manually making these appointments and following up on them takes valuable time.
Online scheduling programs that integrate with your website help you reduce staffing and save money. They also avoid overbooking problems, will identify gaps and slow times so you can plan for them, and help with scheduling employees efficiently. Many customers prefer the convenience of booking online and receiving text and email reminders.
There are numerous easy to use and inexpensive software programs out there, some of which target specific business types such as a salon or a dentist’s office. You can set them up to text appointment reminders or autodial and leave a message, which decreases the risk of no-show’s.
Do you manage several team members out in the field? Does your business juggle multiple projects and deadlines? Or maybe you’re expanding and will need to manage a contractor for remodeling, employees for sales tasks, and more. Look into task management tools to make your life easier.
Tools like Asana and Trello allow you to add team members, contractors, and others to a group and assign tasks. These programs, and others, have apps and will send push notifications and email reminders of tasks and deadlines. Functionality includes the ability to create repeating tasks, such as a monthly reminder to submit mileage for reimbursement.
The capabilities of different task management software varies, but some programs have the ability to store and share files, create “to-do” lists, and track hours and miles. These could save you hours managing people and projects and reduce inefficiencies.
While many people won’t complete their New Year’s resolutions, you’ve already proven that you have what it takes to start and grow a successful company. If you strategically outsource and automate in 2020, you’ll help ensure a successful year.