There are many ways to manage a business. Automating regular tasks, monitoring progress, measuring growth – all these small business processes are there to help you keep on top of what’s going on and making sure you’re on track to reach your goals.
Do you know what your most cost-effective product or service is? Or how much time you and your team spent on non-billable tasks last month? Do you know what your turnover and profit are made up of? Or how most of your clients and customers find their way to your door?
If you can answer all these questions with a resounding ‘Yes!’, give yourself a pat on the back – you’re already well in control of your small business! If you’re not so sure, read on for my tips how best to monitor and manage your small business processes.
Your small business processes – a well-oiled machine
Knowing the inner workings of your company helps you to identify potential weaknesses or opportunities. You can react in time, optimise your workflow and run your business smoothly and profitably.
Have a monitoring system in place that gives you the data, figures and stats to keep an eye on your small business processes. They are the heartbeat, pulse and other vital functions of your small business so it’s important to do this regularly.
I’ve put together a list of ways to gather the information you need to take control of your small business.
1. Time tracking
Many tools and apps out there help you track the time you spend working day in, day out. This sounds like a tedious task, but it these apps really do help you to make the best of your time! Here are a few examples of how this can optimise your work:
- Invoice the exact time you worked on your client’s project without having to guess and sell yourself short.
- Look for ways to improve your profitability, e.g. by finding ways to reduce time spent on non-billable tasks like admin or invoicing.
- Figure out ideal rates to reach your financial goals.
- Free up important resources in your team by outsourcing, delegating or automating processes.
- Improve your workflows and be more productive.
Do your research and find which time tracker app or software suits your working style best. Paymo, for example, has a free version which could be a good starting off point! Clockify, TogglTrack, Hubstaff and Timely have also had good reviews this year.
Read more to find out how to regain control and stop your business running you!
Again, a range of software and online services will help you keep an eye on your finances. If you want to know where your money goes and comes from, your bookkeeping will give you the answers you need:
- Keep your cash flow healthy with regular reports and projections.
- Oversee expenses and ensure you remain within budget.
- Check you’re on track for financial targets and adapt your marketing accordingly.
- Maximise profit by minimising unnecessary overheads or production cost.
- Identify funds to re-invest into the business.
It’s easy to let the financial side of things overwhelm you. But your life will be so much easier when instead of hoping, guessing and anxiously glancing at your bank balance at the end of each month, you know exactly what’s going on at all times. So take charge!
Looking for new ways to boost your finances? Check out this post for my tips on turning your social media followers into paying customers!
3. Time management
Nothing knocks us off our stride more than losing control of tasks and to-do lists. Proper time management gives us peace of mind, the ability to quickly adapt to changes, and the feeling of achievement at the end of every day. If you don’t have a time or project management system in place already, consider these benefits:
- Plan your time and resources ahead and react to bottlenecks and shortages in good time.
- Get projects on track and coordinate even remotely-working teams effortlessly.
- Achieve a healthy work-life-balance for your and your team.
- Be flexible and adapt tasks as needed without delay.
- Never forget anything ever again!
While time tracking apps can take care of the day to day side of things, this type of time management is bigger picture. Here, you’re looking at your business as a whole, and planning ahead to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward at the start of each week or month.
Gaining control of your social media is also a massive help with time management. Check out this post for more on how to make this happen!
4. Marketing monitoring
Monitoring your marketing activities gives insights into what works and what doesn’t. You can research your target group, competitors and marketplace, but nothing beats the data on your customers’ past behaviour for planning future marketing:
- Find out if your marketing campaigns are financially viable.
- Keep tabs on your goals and check you’re on target with your marketing.
- Identify busy and slower times for your business and plan activities and resources accordingly.
- Find out where your customers are coming from and why.
- Use analytics for quick tests and boost slow campaigns before they strain your budget.
5. Booking systems
Whether you’re selling products or services, a booking or e-commerce system helps you understand customer behaviour and their preferences for timing, price and product. You can:
- Plan and improve your product portfolio by identifying what’s popular and what’s not.
- Analyse your customer behaviour and use insights to improve your product, marketing and customer service.
- Communicate with existing customers to improve repeat business, referrals and loyalty.
- Anticipate busy times and plan ahead for production and storage.
- Ask where customers and clients have found you and reinforce those channels.
Make sure your website and booking systems are up to scratch. Investing in a reliable platform can be daunting in the early stages of your business, but it is so worth it. As far as small business processes go, ensuring your site is functioning as smoothly as possible is right up there!
I recently posted my top picks for self hosted websites, so if you’re looking to give your online store or booking system an upgrade, click here!
Peace of mind
Data, facts and stats aren’t for everyone. But who says you have to do the number crunching yourself? Don’t be afraid to outsource where you need to. If you identify an area you’re struggling with, getting some expert advice can make life a lot easier!
To be in charge of your small business you have to know what’s going on behind the scenes. But being in control means running a more successful and resilient small business, having peace of mind and being a happier business owner.
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Set Goals for Your Small Business in 4 Steps
How to Grow Your Small Business & Keep on Track
10 Things I’ve Learned Running My Own Small Business
How to Save Time and Automate Your Workflows