Succinct reminder of good habits from businesszone
Economic recovery is now in sight but the pressure is still on to create equity and drive profit, and every minute counts in the life of an entrepreneur. Can being better organised really hold the key to being more profitable? Sue Reeve, founder of lifestyle management company Consider it Done, thinks so and highlights the key things to focus on.
Being organised is about keeping processes and cash flow healthy, while at the same time allowing business owners the freedom to focus on their customers and new business generation. Operating efficiently also helps reduce stress levels, letting entrepreneurs perform even more effectively.
1. Invest time in tomorrow
Successful entrepreneurs plan and commit to the most important things to get done each day. Give everyday a schedule, even if it’s rough. Without a plan it’s easy to let unproductive activity lead you into avenues where you serve the loudest voice, rather than dealing with the biggest priority for your business. Schedule time for housekeeping; emails, files or de-cluttering paperwork. Importantly, schedule time for business or financial planning, and ideas generation. Put up a whiteboard on the wall, keep a dedicated notebook for the purpose, or use the notepad tool in your iPod or PDA. Whatever you need to give you somewhere to record your thoughts as they come to you. Use waiting or travelling time to think and scribble.
2. Manage distractions
Don’t let them manage you. Turn off the continuous email notification if it stops you from constantly checking your inbox, and make a point of learning more of the functions of your mobile phone to help you manage calls by filtering or diverting them for a period of time. Allocate time for responding to messages, and prioritise call backs. Commit to handling each email or piece of paper only once. Become aware of where time leaks from your day – dealing with junk email, or looking for things – and take steps to improve your operation to reduce it.
3. Schedule regular cost saving reviews
The investment made in shopping around properly for stationery, software or marketing materials could shave your cost base. It’s simple to set up an account with providers and see how their prices compare to your current sources. Check the best fuel prices at nearby petrol stations before a long business trip at http://www.petrolprices.com. Utility and telecoms suppliers change tariffs constantly, so plan to review them every quarter. If time pressure is in the way, find an independent consultant who will audit the business, and handle all the switchovers to the best possible rates. They can build their fees into your savings, so the review costs your business nothing.
4. Make your diary work harder
Computerised calendars such as the one in Outlook, are everywhere, and it takes seconds to set up a reminder. Use them for absolutely everything where time is a factor, and you’ll stay on the front foot. Contract renewal dates; meeting preparation; report generation; customer reminders; or, break up big projects (the ones you keep putting off) into component parts and diarise them to make them more likely to happen. Use the meeting function to invite others into your task management or reminder system.
5. Don’t wing it with IT
IT issues can stop a business running in its tracks. IT support doesn’t have to cost a fortune and some technology companies can work on low monthly retainer fees tailored to a business’ needs. Work with them to build in plans for equipment replacement, to avoid being forced into big outlays during an IT crisis. It’s good practice to have an online back-up system, so that if your office equipment was stolen or damaged, your business data isn’t lost.
6. Be available for your clients
Missing a call from a client or prospect could leave you missing earning opportunities. A cost effective way to getting this right is by contracting a dedicated call answering service, so that there will always be someone answering the phone professionally. You’ll be able to respond to the important calls, and filter the time wasters. Factor in a cost of between £30 and £90 a month based on the volume of calls you need answering. Gain one more piece of business as a result of a call you didn’t miss, and the payback could easily show returns in multiples.
7. Delegation = freedom
Stay asset-light, and by-pass the responsibilities of being an employer by finding a quality organising service that can provide the resource you need, when you need it. Small businesses in particular may only need adhoc or occasional part time help, which would make all the difference, but doesn’t warrant an extra head on the team. While you are out of the office securing a new contract, you can stay focused, knowing that someone is managing the office, chasing outstanding invoices, dealing with IT problems, researching, dealing with correspondence or tracking budgets and expenses.
It takes unrelenting tenacity and energy to make a business successful, but by adopting smart working principles, and finding quality support, it’s possible to reach your goals faster. You have it within your power to bring the midas touch of good organisation to what you do.
Sue Reeve is the founder and managing director of Consider it Done, a lifestyle management company offering organisation and PA support to businesses and individuals.