Streamlining systems and processes for small/medium sized businesses

Image of gears to represent the importance of streamlining systems and processes for small/medium sized businessesMost recently I have been asked to help a number of clients to stream line systems and processes for their small/medium sized businesses.  It is interesting now that we are a few months into the new calendar year I have been approached by several small business owners who feel like they are out of control with the way they are or are not operating their businesses.  Once upon a time they had structure but either due to growth or lack of time or a combination of both, the systems and processes they have in place no longer serve the business well.  Hence their call to do something about it and get in touch with me in order to assist.

For those who do not know my background this type of work is what I have basically done all of my career when working for others in the various project management, marketing or general management positions.  I really enjoy getting in and making a difference to the lives of business owners.

So why is this so important for a small/medium sized businesses?

Systems and processes play a significant role in building and growing a business.  They serve as the business essential building blocks and support.  Hence, it is necessary for business owners to incorporate them into their businesses. It is also important to consider the efficiency and accuracy of the business systems.

One of the biggest reasons is that you can focus on the most important aspect of your business by meeting the demands of your clients and not having to worry as much about the administration and backend if you have put the time and effort into establishing the necessary systems and processes so that it runs both efficiently and productively.

How might you go about setting up systems and processes?

When I work with clients in this area it is important to start with a business audit/review – where by we discuss and work through many issues like the following:

  • How is the business structured?
  • How do you operate – describe what the business does from the front end to the back end?  How does it all come together?
  • How many staff do you have and who is responsible for what roles?
  • What do you believe is working well for you?  Where do you feel you are efficient?
  • Where do you believe the challenges are?  What issues do you experience and are they regular occurances?
  • What areas do you believe you can or would like to streamline?
  • Are you meeting all your financial and tax obligations? What are your process around this?
  • What is your IT structure – what applications do you use?  Do you back up your systems? (Often many businesses do not have adequate systems around this which is just vital to the survival of a business should anything happen – when did you last review this for your business?)
  • Do you have a budget?
  • Do you have a business and marketing plan in place?
  • Do you have a reporting process in place so you know how the business is going and are able to track growth?
  • Who is on your team in terms of advisors?

By working through all of the above, and more, only then is there an opportunity to identify the areas of the business that need attention and ensure systems and processes are put in place.  For instance one of my recent clients wants to triple the growth of their business and understands the importance of ensuring all of the backend systems and processes are established to support this growth.  With so many plans and ideas for growth I explained to my client the necessity of prioritising and putting certain parts of those plans into place first before trying to do it all.  The danger by trying to do it all at once is that nothing actually gets done well and the business does not grow as planned.  In this clients instance we identified the importance of recruiting an admin assistant/bookkeeper and then all the other bits and pieces will be able to flow from there.

image of gears representing automation and process - Streamlining systems and processes for small/medium sized businesses

source: http://www.exciteit.com.au/

For another client they were struggling with the manual paperwork and manual processes for their business that they needed to review how they operated to improve efficiency and productivity.  By working through the current way they operated I was able to work with them to identify the areas that could be streamlined and automated which would save them time that they were craving.  Gaining more time has been beneficial to these clients on both a business and personal level  – it has allowed them more time to be out growing the business whilst giving them more time to enjoy life and not feel they are working all the time.

If you are operating a small to medium sized business when was the last time you took a step back and reviewed the way you are operate and function?  If you haven’t done this ever, or for some time, then make the time and allow yourself time and space to review what is and isn’t working as efficiently as it can.  After identifying this you will then be able to make changes or seek the input or help to do so.  At the end of the day we all want our businesses to do well and it is important to make time for both working IN and ON your business.

If you are not sure of the best place to start or would like some assistance in this area please do get in touch as I am only more than too happy to get you on track.

Here’s some further reading I thought would be useful to share with you on why this is so important to your business:

6 Key Benefits of Building Systems

Why A Lack Of Systems Is Stunting Your Business Growth And Costing You A Fortune

7 benefits you will get if you implement business systems in your company

Tax preparation – Its time to get on top of your financial records

It is nearly that time of year again in terms of tax preparation with 30 June approaching.  Are you more organised than you have been in the past or is this something you are dreading having to do?

One of the main reasons many people delay filing their taxes is that they are disorganised.  They don’t know where all the information is and they are not really sure what they actually need.  People dread having to search and process information and thus put it off as long as they possibly can.  It really doesn’t have to be that big a deal and it just requires you to have a designated system that you follow every year.  Don’t let the paper clutter and the process of finding the information overwhelm you!

I recently discussed tax time preparation with Stacey PriceSohpie Price Photo from Healthy Business Finances and between the two of us we hope these 10 tips assist you no matter what stage of organisation or disorganisation you are at when it comes to tax time!

  1. Address details – consider if you have moved address during the year.  You don’t want your annual payment summary from your employer to be posted to the wrong address.  This is also really important if you have changed jobs during the year – let your previous employer know where to send your payment summary.
  2. Bank accounts – usually on your last statement for the financial year the bank accounts will tell you your interest earned.  You don’t need to give your tax accountant every single statement for the year – but that final one is important.
  3. Health insurance statement – you will need your annual health statement for your tax return.  Most funds email them out – so again, check they have the right details.
  4. Email and manual tax folders – we suggest starting a folder in your email directory called “tax 2015 financial year” – that way when you receive receipts, statements, payment summaries – they are all stored in the one spot and easily found.  You can also set up a manual one if you haven’t already.  This is then something you should start for the next financial year too.
  5. Rental Property – if you use a rental agent, they should provide you with a statement detailing your income and expenses for the property for the year.  This annual statement is gold and will form part of your tax return.
  6. Dividends – if you own shares, during the year you may receive dividends.  Often by the time tax time comes around the fiddly dividend pieces of paper can be filed anywhere!  If you struggle to keep the paperwork in order, then I suggest printing statements from your share provider – such as computershare or investor centre – wherever the shares are held.  Then you can just print out a yearly summary.
  7. Tax Deductions – do you need a way to capture small receipts during the year that are tax deductions?  Usually the biggest ones are for donations ie daffodil day pens, ANZAC poppies – a few dollars here and there soon add up but the receipts are nowhere to be seen.  One way is to take photos of them on your phone, email them to yourself and save the email in the directory you setup in your inbox called “Tax 2015 financial year”.
  8. Don’t know what you need – then it might be time to pull out last years tax return as a refresher.  As a result of this you might like to put together a checklist of all the documents you might need.  If you do this then save it in your tax folder either manual or electronic.
  9. Storing tax information – only keep the documents of the current year and the previous year close to where you work.  Reduce the amount of paper and files by putting previous years tax information elsewhere in your home, labeled appropriately. If you are not sure what needs to be saved and for how long then please ask your accountant or visit the ATO so you know!
  10. Destroying tax information – You don’t need to keep all your information for ever and once you understand how long you must hold onto records for you can then destroy older information and can then do this on a yearly basis by destroying the relevant year.

One final point is that individuals can now lodge tax returns via MYGOV (ATO free service) so if you don’t already have a MYGOV account, it might be good to set that up before tax time to avoid any issues with connecting it all up and passwords when things get hectic.

You may need to invest some time to get on top of this but there is an upside – the more organised you can be the more likelihood of you completing your taxes on time and with less stress.  Who knows in the future you may then not dread this task that we all must do!

If after reading these tips you still feel you would like some help please contact me – amanda@organisingyou.com.au and I can assist you to get the information better organised.  If however it is financial assistance or lodgement advice you need then please contact Stacey – stacey@healthybusinessfinances.com.au.

 

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