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As a small business owner, you are responsible for many key tasks in order to maintain your business –fulfilling orders, creative development, sales and marketing, and the dreaded invoicing process; the list goes on and on. This National Small Business Week – the annual designated small business celebration this May 12-16th – set aside some time to congratulate yourself on your accomplishments with all of these tasks and take a moment to pinpoint how you can simplify your life moving forward.
Being an entrepreneur or small business owner doesn’t mean you need or should do it all yourself. In fact, successful entrepreneurs are expert delegators. This doesn’t always mean delegating to other people, but rather understanding how to delegate key, but painful tasks and how to use delegation tools and solutions.
Below, I’ve listed a few ways to make entrepreneurial tasks less difficult.
Even in a world where digital seems to dominate, small business owners are still using manual means to create and send invoices. In fact, a survey conducted by Sage in December 2013 among 801 small U.S. businesses found that 71 percent of small businesses use Microsoft Word or Excel to create invoices, and 47 percent send invoices to their client in the mail.If you’ve already invested in an online invoicing solution, you can likely attest to the benefits of a digital solution. Long gone are the days when you needed to hand write or print your invoices. With an online solution, invoices are sent, and reminders re-sent, with just a couple clicks.
Many entrepreneurs worry about the cost required for an invoicing solution, but it’s proven that these solutions save time and money in the long run by allowing you to focus on the other parts of your business that promote growth, like marketing. The key to success is finding the solution that’s right for you and your business. Some companies offer solutions with all the bells and whistles of task management, accounting, tracking, etc., and others focus on specific areas of business management, like invoicing. What your business needs will depend on what you want to delegate.
Admittedly, many small business owners let orders stack up and they push off tedious tasks like invoicing until the end of the month, or treat invoicing activities as an unimportant task. Spending just a few minutes a day on invoicing, or whatever your least favorite tasks are, helps you consistently avoid falling behind. Set a calendar reminder each day to commit to these activities.
Don’t have the funds to bring on another employee, but you are drowning in work that needs to be done? An online solution can act as an electronic, automatic assistant that helps keep track of your business’ most profitable aspects – like reminders for deadlines or follow up items. Or, if you are looking for temporary help, try oDesk or Fiverr to help find a freelancer that is right for your needs.
If you haven’t taken advantage of storing data in the cloud, I suggest trying it out. Keeping your files in the cloud allows you to access important documents from anywhere. Afraid that your data won’t be safe? No need to be! Cloud solutions have proven to be secure and reliable. By comparison, how secure are the files stored on your own laptop?
Cash and check payments are on the decline, and if your business isn’t able to accept payment electronically, you’re likely missing sales opportunities. Customers expect purchases to be quick and easy. If you’re a retail business, consider implementing mobile payments, where you can accept a customer’s credit card via your mobile device. For service-based businesses, allowing customers to pay invoices online through an online accounting or invoicing solution saves you the time you’d spend entering payments or making bank deposits, and gets you paid faster.
One of the easiest ways to get more of your time back and minimize stress is to utilize the dashboard of an online solution. Not only will it simplify processes, but it’ll help increase revenue. A dashboard is a tool that generates charts that give you a snapshot of your business’s activities – financial health, customer interaction, employee activity, and more. Once your dashboard is set up and you can appreciate your business’s key metrics, you intuitively start acting on and improving results with increased productivity and profit.
Mike Savory, Product Manager, Sage One
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