Using outdated tools or suffering from digital clutter can make it hard to optimize time on the job – and small business owners know that optimizing time is a key activity on the road to success. To increase productivity and profitability, small businesses can implement a few simple organizational improvements by integrating some smart organization tips into their daily routines.
Here are eight tips to help transform your small business into a smart organization.
- Use cloud services. Seriously, if you aren’t using cloud service providers (although you probably are even if you don’t realize it), start now. Cloud services can be any service that doesn’t have a native application and information that is stored and accessed on your computer. Cloud services such as Dropbox, stores data on their servers and synchronized your files and documents making them available from any internet-enabled device. Through the cloud, each computer, smartphone and mobile device that you use can gain access to the same files and document organization making everything consistent. Arguably, 2014 is the year of the cloud and studies show that 62 percent of small and medium businesses say they are using some type of cloud application, which is up from 28 percent only one year ago.
- Delete the unnecessary. Get comfortable with parting with things that no longer serve you. Meaning, delete old, unnecessary digital content such as newsletters, spam, bad or outdated photos, and other items that aren’t relevant to your business. Go through those folders on a rainy Saturday afternoon and delete, delete, delete! Productivity experts note that most office workers spend 30 to 60 minutes looking for digital info on their system and digging through that digital clutter. Avoid losing that time!
- Implement a social media policy during work hours. According to Social Media Today, posts, tweets, sharing, emails, and text messaging accounted for 57 percent of work interruptions. Rather than letting these activities disrupt your day, set aside a designated time to look at your Facebook or phone and respond.
- Use online appointment booking. If your business is driven by meetings and/or calls, provide an online calendar or schedule where customers or clients can book appointments from their own computers or mobile devices (and even prepay!). Note: This is a cloud service. Some free services include SimplyBook.me and checkappointments.com – both eliminate phone and email tag, and provide integration with your web page or provide you with a page if you don’t have one.
- Take notes easily and quickly. We all love to take notes and “remember” things, so why not use technology to make this easier? Use apps such as Evernote, which runs on Windows, iOS, and Android. These note-taking apps make it easy to record, store, and share your notes on-the-go and this will ween you away from not relying solely on your fit-to-fail memory. Right now, Evernote has about 34 million users. That’s 34 million people who have freed up valuable brain space for more important things than meeting notes.
- Set and recall your business goals. Although this may not necessarily fall under productivity, it is definitely a way to becoming a “smart” organization. By setting business goals focused on effectively managing and/or reducing your overall budget, increasing market share, increasing revenues, and/or improving customer satisfaction, you can keep your mind streamlined and focused on what actions take priority when you have a full to-do list. Write these goals down and look at them everyday. Stats show that people who write down their business goals are 33 percent more likely to achieve them – so go make it happen!
- Manage your finances. Managing your finances is a huge chunk of successfully navigating the challenges of running a small business, but there are a few things you can do: 1. Choose the right bank for your financial plan and take advantage of all programs they have for assisting small businesses; and 2. Use a credit card control app that lets you increase cash flow and manage day-to-day customer cash and credit control tasks. Mint, a financial planning app, is used by over 8 million people and helps you understand your spending habits.
- Use resources. Beyond just using technology to make your business more efficient, use outside resources that may help elevate your business and take it to the next level. Consider reaching out to local small business development centers for assistance and networking opportunities. Those organizations usually offer free services, which can help you with everything from referrals for outsourcing some of your work to developing an updated business plan. And, don’t forget to take advantage of memberships and join small business associations to network and participate in community events. They will expose your business to new potential clients.
Use these eight tips and consider how you can operate smarter.