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Nostalgia for 80s and 90s culture is all over the internet, especially social media. However, one place this mindset doesn't belong is in your practical processes for your small business or startup.
Certain technologies and ways of communicating may see completely natural to your organization. You may favor Microsoft Word for document creation, PowerPoint for information decks and slides, Microsoft Excel for spreadsheets and analytics presentation, paper memos for important announcements, rolodexes for customer/client information, phone calls for internal office communication and email or flash drives (hopefully not floppy disks) for large file distribution. Below we'll help you bring these processes into the 2010s.
- Documents: Most workers these days have used Microsoft Word as a basis of their office applications, usually learning how to type and compose documents in the software. While this approach may seem logical for one-off information deliveries, you may consider using something like Google Docs as a way to easily distribute the documents and allow for input and changes whenever necessary, especially when the document needs to be checked by multiple people.
- Announcements: On a similar note, physical memos distributed for office announcements wastes paper and clutters desks and trashcans. Email is a more cost-effective alternative for alerting your staff of any upcoming events or policy changes. You can even use a tool like Boomerang to help schedule your emails if you have multiple announcements to make throughout the week or month.
- Client information: You may have a rolodex or even an email address book to keep up with prospects and leads, but oftentimes, that's far from enough to help organize all of your data. Using a customer relationship management (CRM) system allows you to create various accounts and categories for all of the people and clients you meet. You can even track the sales process from initial meeting to closed deal.
- File distribution: Though you can deliver files up to 25 MB in certain email providers, documents and other type of files larger than 25MB would have to be broken up into multiple emails or transferred via a flash drive or external hard drive. By paying a small monthly or annual fee depending on your needs, you can create a Dropbox account. You can decide who has access to your files or just send a link with the ability to download but not edit.
- Presentations, data and analytics: Though PowerPoint and Excel can be crucial business tools, the flexibility that online applications provide should not be ignored. Google's Slides and Sheets can make delivery of these presentations and analytics incredibly easy. As mentioned in many of the above sections, collaborative teams and offices benefit from the ability to review and edit in real-time. You can also access PowerPoint and Excel on the internet via Office365.
- Office communication: Although email seems like big step away from phone calls towards tech-savvy office management, you can go even further by using messaging systems such as Google Hangouts and Slack, which allow you to monitor who is available on your team to talk at any given time. You can also send files and images for immediate download.
For more tips like this, be sure to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Though we know some of you are pounding the digital pavement from your home offices, a lot of you in the small business world work from a traditional office or co-working space. Though you may delegate a few tasks to virtual assistants, your physical location is the destination for your full-time and/or part-time staff.
The buzzword "company culture" may elicit some eye rolls; however, making sure your company evokes both happiness and productivity is not an entrepreneurial or corporate pipe dream. Below we list some of the ways for creating the ideal workplace environment
1. Minimize meetings - This advice seems much easier said than done as we often feel our meetings can produce monumental innovation and crucial client acquisition. If we are being honest, these "wins" happen less than we think. Out of a out-hour meeting, sometimes only 25% (or less) of the time yields anything productive or pertinent to your company's growth. If you need currently all of your weekly meetings to occur and cannot streamline communication through email or other digital applications, you can at least cut down on the time spent at the conference table. For the next few months, limiting your typical 60-minute weekly meeting to half an hour. You most likely won't even miss that other 30 minutes and will still accomplish what you need to get done.
2. Establish clear guidelines for communication - At this time, several generations exist inside a company whether the employees are Baby Boomers, Gen Xers or Millennials. And of course, each generation prefers a specific communication tool. However, instead of trying to analyze everyone's habits, you can try establishing an order of communication lines. For example, if a task or question needs attention but can wait a day or more, email the team or employee. If you need something completed within a few hours, try a companywide, instant message platform such as Slack or Google Hangouts. And if you have a completely unavoidable situation that must be resolved immediately, go for the telephone or face-to-face communication/surprise visit approach. You can implement these rules however you see fit, but be willing to give this strategy a shot and document which guidelines for communication work best.
3. Allow for moments of levity throughout the work day - You may read that suggestion and automatically think of Google-esque work environments with scooters, rock walls, dance parties and anything and everything seems completely unrelated to the task at hand. No one is asking for employers to go to that extreme, but implementing a few ways for team members to enjoy their work day is not a detriment to productivity. Some employers may let the workers dress casually, some may allow music to be played at low volumes or in headphones or some may offer free healthy snacks and coffee. You have to analyze the best tactics for YOUR company. Feel free to experiment subtly and see what happens.
If you would like some more information on creating a happy and productive office, feel free to email us at email@example.com!
As much as we businesses owners want to be personally involved every single aspect of our company, there eventually comes a point when the business is growing too much for one or a few people. To make sure each part of the proverbial business “ship” is running smoothly, owners and managers must establish efficient procedures, processes and systems.
Here are a few tips on making that happen.
Learning how to balance the operations and sales/marketing of your business with the systems and processes of your business is crucial to establishing a path for future success and growth. Creation, development, auditing, documentation and collaboration represent five steps you can take to make these objectives achievable.
This past Wednesday, June 21st, marked the first day of summer. Activity in your work or home office may have slowed down for the season, but this slight lull could be the perfect opportunity to review your company's progress for the first half of 2017 as well as refine your plans for the rest of the year.
Your financial management, in particular, should always be checked, measured, analyzed and refined. We will give you a few of the most crucial items to include on your midyear checklist. Keep reading for more information and be sure to let us know what you would add!
1. Check your prepared budget against your current spending: "Budget" may be one of the least liked, yet most important words in the business lexicon. Your business cannot survive without the creation of a budget and also the fulfillment of a budget. Bring up the documents you created at the beginning of 2017 or end of 2016 and cross-examine each category and item with what you actually spent on said items. If you're on your way to healthy year-end profit and positive cash flow, celebrate and keep pushing forward. If not, grab all of your head staff and determine what areas of spending can be cut or reduced. You still have a little over six months to turn things around, but no use in waiting.
2. Check your balance sheet for any missing or uncollected payments: If you are a solopreneur or small business owner, you are constantly being thrown new information about vendors and clients. Without proper systems in place for payables, receivables, bills and invoices, you can miss crucial payments and deadlines. Take time this last week of June to catch up on your balance sheets and income statements. Don't stop until each document is properly filled and all payments are made and received.
3. Make sure your tax documents are correct for all aspects of your business: We're just two months out of the dreaded tax season, but you cannot go wrong by trying to prepare for next year. You want to make sure no stone is left unturned with this side of financial management. Though some of you may hire an outside tax accountant for those first few months of each year, consider bringing one in for this next week just to audit your books and make sure everything is on track. You'll breathe easier knowing you have a rock-solid vision and strategy for the rest of 2017
Other important items for your midyear financial management checklist:
- Job-cost reports
- Estimates versus actuals details
- Profit/loss actuals
- Sales and marketing goals
- Customer satisfaction ratings
For more information on financial management, please email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Tax season 2017 is finally coming to an end, and we hope you have been able to get everything correctly filed on deadline. Whether you are a detailed individual versed in important tax policies for your small business or you took the step of hiring an outside accountant, everyone can bring a sigh of relief knowing that another year of filing has passed. If you fell into the latter category and experienced a negative or slightly uncomfortable time with the accountant you hired for this past year, we can give you a few tips to make sure the next selection process is much more pleasant.
- Hire someone who communicates with you on a daily or weekly basis and has a quality reputation in your state: Reliability in financial management is crucial for any business, especially when you are running most of the operations by yourself or with a small staff. You want an accountant who you can trust with communicating with the right people, compiling the right documents and filing the right reports. Also be sure to check with your state's accounting board to make sure your new accountant will provide you the best experience.
- Hire someone who knows the rules of your industry and stays up-to-date with both the big and small changes: Knowing all of the tax and financial guidelines/rules related to your company makes an accountant a viable asset for your small business, especially if your focus is on a niche product or market. You also need an accountant who will keep a pulse on any changes to procedures that could directly affect your business, so that you can focus on making your company the best it can be.
- Hire someone who is willing to explain your financial statements fully and answer any questions you may have: Though you will want to spend most of your energy on your company's daily operations while delegating the important details and financial processes to an expert, make sure you hire an accountant who is willing to keep you informed on a regular basis, especially when a potential problem or issue arises. Make sure your accountant has an open door policy when it comes to questions about your company's financial health. No one enjoys shocking surprises when it comes to money.
For more information on how we can help you with your financial management, email us at email@example.com!
We love discussing the practical processes you need for running a successful company or small business. Now I want to give you a quick list of tools that have helped me and that I believe could work wonders for your company in maintaining your practical processes.
Email - serves as your main source of initial and continuous contact between you, your clients, your staff, your vendors and more. I recommend email services such as Outlook or Gmail.
– lets you schedule your emails for maximum communication efficiency. Dropbox – safely stores all your documents. You can share files and also have access across all devices. Google Docs – gives you the benefit of making changes in real time. Doodle – helps with arranging and scheduling meetings with more than two people. Join.Me – allows free server and screen sharing. Conference Calls – provides an easy dial-in number for participants in different cities and countries. Try Uber Conference or Freeconference.com. Buffer – aids in publishing content across several accounts. Feeling overwhelmed by keeping up your social media pages? Can’t
afford to pay a social media expert? Try Buffer. CRM (Customer Relations Management)- helps small businesses and solopreneurs track all your client/customer information. Zoho
or Streak (a Google app inside Gmail) are both good options. Evernote – provides an easy, searchable system for keeping notes. Shoeboxed – keeps receipts and creates expense reports. One of my favorite applications. Let us know in the comments which tools you use for your business!
Boomerang – lets you schedule your emails for maximum communication efficiency.
Dropbox – safely stores all your documents. You can share files and also have access across all devices.
Google Docs – gives you the benefit of making changes in real time.
Doodle – helps with arranging and scheduling meetings with more than two people.
Join.Me – allows free server and screen sharing.
Conference Calls – provides an easy dial-in number for participants in different cities and countries. Try Uber Conference or Freeconference.com.
Buffer – aids in publishing content across several accounts. Feeling overwhelmed by keeping up your social media pages? Can’t afford to pay a social media expert? Try Buffer.
CRM (Customer Relations Management)- helps small businesses and solopreneurs track all your client/customer information. Zoho or Streak (a Google app inside Gmail) are both good options.
Evernote – provides an easy, searchable system for keeping notes.
Shoeboxed – keeps receipts and creates expense reports. One of my favorite applications.
Let us know in the comments which tools you use for your business!
We present to you a visual representation of last week's blog post on raising the bar with your practical processes at your small business. If you
have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org