When I chat to potential clients about how I can help them, I’m sometimes asked for my top tips for how to improve small business efficiency. There are always things you can do to streamline your processes and help your business run more smoothly.
It’s easy to think that your current ways of working don’t need to be reviewed – after all, why change something that currently works. However, technology moves on so quickly now that there are lots of options for increasing small business efficiency without breaking the bank.
Consider using cloud-based storage solutions for your data rather than keeping everything on your hard drive. The advantage of cloud systems over traditional ones is that your data is easily accessible from wherever you are in the world if you have a browser and internet access.
In addition, cloud storage solutions negate the need to purchase and maintain hardware or run backups of your hard drive and are likely to offer much better security to protect against hackers. Cloud storage solutions are cheaper than physical hard drives and less likely to fail. When you are working in the cloud, your documents are auto saved so you are much less likely to lose data.
There are lots of cloud storage providers to choose from, some of which offer free storage, such as Google Drive who allow you to store up to 15GB before they charge you.
If you are manually entering your invoices and payments into a spreadsheet to keep your accounts, you could consider setting up a cloud-based accounting system such as Xero or Quickbooks. These software packages are very intuitive to use so that business owners who aren’t very familiar with finance and accounting can manage their accounts online.
The advantage of using an online package is that they offer lots of functionality such as integrations to your CRM or Email database as well as enabling you to review your finances more easily. Small business efficiency can be increased by having better data for decision making – see immediately who owes you money, what your cash position at the bank is and how old your unpaid invoices are.
If the words ‘tax return’ bring you out in a cold sweat, using online accounting software can help to ease your pain. You can run reports that give you the figures you need to enter your return and, in some cases, your online software automatically sends data to HMRC, making your life much easier.
Customers are the lifeblood of every business. Without them, you have no business, so it’s important to create and maintain great working relationships with your customers. Set up a client database using Excel or a customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
You can use the system to keep track of your sales pipeline and all your customer contact details. You can integrate it to your finance system so you can pull in data about sales and outstanding invoices.
Your CRM can also integrate to your email marketing system or in some cases, this functionality is a standard feature of the CRM. Staying in touch with your customers reminds them that they are important to you and can help you to get repeat business.
There are many other benefits of using a CRM system to increase small business efficiency – find out more in my blog ‘Why you should use a CRM System’
Diary management can suck up a lot of time – all that to-ing and fro-ing to find a suitable date is a waste of valuable resources. Why not consider putting in place a booking system such as Calendly or Acuity?
These systems allow you to create different length meetings, both online and face-to-face. You send the other person a link and they can choose a suitable time from your calendar. You can set your available times as you wish and you can create buffers around other meetings to prevent people from booking in back to back. If something needs to change there are reschedule and cancellation options at the touch of a button.
Most businesses are looking to increase their customer base and there are a wide range of ways to market your business to your ideal client. Relying heavily on social media platforms to find new business can be a risky strategy because you never know when your account might be suspended, hacked or the service goes down. Creating your own email database of clients that you can market to is a good option and one way to do this is to have a lead magnet you can offer in exchange for potential clients’ email addresses.
How can a Virtual Assistant help me improve my small business efficiency?
There are many tasks that you can automate to free up time and help you work more efficiently. A tech-savvy VA can make recommendations on which systems would work best for your business and get them set up for you, as well as train you and your staff in how to use them correctly.
If you’d like to find out more about how I can help you improve efficiency in your small business, please email me on email@example.com or call me on 07970719428
You can connect with me on Linkedin – come and say hi.
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