The journey of a small business is the craziest, bumpiest, most amazing roller coaster ride anyone could ever invent. There are times when you’re at the top with your hands in the air laughing and smiling hoping that next decent won’t be so deep and that it doesn’t turn your stomach. And there are other times when you’re at the lowest of points looking ahead at the climb with apprehension, excitement, fear, and that undying positivity that pulls you through.
But no matter where you are on the ride, it’s likely that the numbers are always swirling inside your mind and you’re continually evaluating how you can cut costs, save money, improve service, and ultimately, drive revenue.
To help you out and hopefully make some sense of the swirling digits, here are three not-so-obvious ways your business processes may be poking holes in your profits – and easy ways to implement some quick fixes.
- How about those meetings?
According to a study published on Entrepreneur.com, 60 percent of executives complained about time wasted in meetings and 74 percent doubted their meetings were effective. Yes, meetings are often necessary to work through challenges and boost creativity, but more often than not, the meetings turn into wasted time. In turn, the unproductivity within the meetings and unclear meeting outcomes and can affect the quantity and quality of work produced post-meeting through unmotivated workers whose morale shifted (you know, like letting the air out of a balloon).
The Fix: Change the process of scheduling and conducting meetings. Require that meetings have a clear agenda and are only called when needed to accomplish an identified goal. Require that the meeting invite includes all required information and only to those who can contribute to the meeting (not just those that can use a summary) are invited. If an email can replace the meeting or provide the meeting outcomes, then send an email instead and include a clear call-to-action if the email requires a response or feedback.
- How about that paperwork?
Do you regularly print document? Do you really need to print all of the documents that are printed? On average, an office worker uses over 10,000 sheets of paper per year, equaling a cost of $80 per employee.
And if you do print those papers, how do you store the resulting files? If the files are physically stored within an office space, they could be costing the business money. The estimated cost for storing a filing cabinet for one year is about $2500. And while filing cabinets are great for holding files, there is a margin of error and lost time when employees are searching for documents that are misfiled (or possibly even non-existent).
The Fix: Go digital. Scan and file paper documents. Turn your records into digital files and store them using a cloud-based software solution or another solution that organizes and provides controlled access. If you have remote workers – or you work remotely – on a regular basis, then use the cloud and provide updated, real-time access and editing to files that employees may need to complete their job responsibilities. The bonus is that these files can also assist with meeting management and get everyone [literally] on the same page at the same time even if everyone is in a different room or different state.
- How about those taxes?
On average, about 40 percent of small businesses acquire an average of $845 per year in IRS penalties. This is a result of inaccuracies on returns, usually from business owners who are busy working in their businesses and don’t always have time to dig up all the required paperwork and supporting documents to claim deductions suggested by their accountant.
On the flipside, business owners also miss out on deductions when they are available because of the same reason – they can’t always find the supporting paperwork and therefore, forgo the deduction instead of taking the risk and not being able to show proper documentation when questioned.
The fix: Keep the digital theme flowing and turn all tax-related documents and receipts into digital files. Create a folder to house the information and share it with your bookkeeper and accountant to ensure these important documents can be found when needed. The more organized you can be on an ongoing basis, the easier it will be when you are pulling it together to file on time.
As a small business owner, it is incredibly important to keep those pursestrings tied tight. Be prepared for the expected and cut unnecessary costs whose savings could add up and be better spent on equipment, personnel, or other ways that can grow your business.