It takes huge resilience and motivation to get a small business off the ground and keep it there. To ensure consistent growth, small business owners and their employees need to use their time wisely to get the best results. Optimum productivity is critical in guaranteeing that all business objectives are met on time, every time.
To operate as productively as possible, there are challenges that small businesses will need to overcome. According to Xero’s 2017 State of Small Business Report, 68% of South Africa’s small businesses cite economic volatility as their biggest challenge. It almost goes without saying that in times of economic uncertainty, productivity is mission critical in maintaining profitability.
Here are three ways you can make your small business more productive.
1. Automate administrative processes
Businesses that still rely on outdated Excel spreadsheets will struggle to keep up with their more digitally savvy rivals. Spreadsheets provide little to no data insight. What’s more, they’re static, prone to human error and most importantly, aren’t scalable.
Good administration is necessary to keep a business running smoothly. However, a heavy workload is laborious and uses up valuable employee time. The less admin there is, the more time your staff has to concentrate on more important, strategic, work.
Almost all data nowadays is digital so don’t waste your time with manual data entry. Instead of struggling with time-consuming admin, you can boost your productivity with cloud accounting software such as Xero that automatically captures all transactional client data. You can also use apps like Receipt Bank to digitise paper records, and set up your payroll system to automate employee tax calculations and paperwork.
As a small business owner, you can consider improving your computer skills by doing a course, writing your own programme or using an online programme like Sage One.
2. Stay connected on the go
Make the most of mobile apps that enable you to work from anywhere at any time. Every last second is a valuable opportunity to do work that contributes to the company’s bottom line. This includes time spent traveling in taxis or trains, waiting at a client’s offices for a meeting to start or even waiting for your favourite barista to make your morning coffee.
Mobile technology allows you to use your downtime as uptime. No time is ever wasted, which boosts productivity and returns real results.
3. Stay on top of late payments
Our research also shows that, on average, small business owners spend 1.25 days a month chasing payments. That equates to 10.4 hours a month – or 6% of each day spent asking clients for money owed. This is incredibly frustrating, not to mention a completely ineffective use of time.
The best way to get around this is to automate invoicing. This reduces the admin, as well as the need for awkward conversations with your clients. Your accounts payable team can stay on top of overdue payments, ensuring a balanced cash flow with less effort.
We live in a digitally connected and highly competitive world. Harnessing the right software and apps can give your company a greater chance of thriving during tough economic times.
Darren Upson is the Director of Small Business at Xero, responsible for growing the Xero subscriber base throughout Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). Following a decade in marketing leadership positions within ERP software vendors, most recently at NetSuite, Darren moved to Xero in April 2015 and has subsequently helped grow the UK & EMEA business from 83,000 subscribers to over 250,000.