Get organised: The ultimate checklist of tasks for small businesses

13 June 2017

Research from This is Money shows that the average small business owner works 50 hours per week - with 370,000 small business owners clocking over 60 hours.

These figures are despite the fact that despite 28% believing their health is being negatively affected by the long working hours. As an entrepreneur, you might think it's your duty to burn the candle at both ends. However, with a little careful planning, you can make better use of your time - and your cash flow.

That's why we've put together this ultimate checklist of daily, weekly, monthly and annual tasks that every small business owner should be ticking off.

Daily tasks

The essential day-to-day responsibilities which keep your business streamlined and working to its fullest.

Be present

When you’re running a business, it’s easy to get caught up in daily operations. Get out there and interact with your customers and staff. Take the time to let your employees know when they’re doing a good job and they will reward you with loyal service and greater productivity.

If things aren’t going to plan, you can be there to offer guidance and get things back on track.

Check the bank

In 2016, 35% of UK SMEs named managing cash flow as their biggest business challenge with up to 90% of business failures being attributed to poor cash flow. Know where you stand in terms of cash flow by monitoring your accounts every day.

Regular checks are required to:

  • Pick up fraudulent transactions and suspicious activity
  • Identify opportunities to save money
  • Regulate spending
  • Stay up to date with customer payments

Always ensure you keep a daily record of incoming and outgoing payments.

Weekly tasks

Set aside a little time every week for these important tasks.

small business checklist

Set specific goals

Successful business people all have one thing in common: a clear idea of where they are and where they want to be.

Refer to your business plan and break your long-term goals down into manageable steps. Assign yourself two or three goals each week and set a deadline to achieve them. This will motivate you to hone your focus and get results.

If your goal is to improve customer service in a retail setting, break that down into smaller tasks:

  • Increase staff training hours
  • Provide customer feedback forms
  • Introduce employee performance reviews
  • Commit to spending five extra hours per week out on the floor

Social media

Today’s big players didn’t get to where they are without a strong online presence.

Allocate a few hours each week to upload your latest news to social media, including:

  • Notes and images from your current projects
  • New products
  • Special announcements

You can save time by using an online scheduling tool like Agora Pulse to schedule and publish posts over different platforms, in one place.

We recommend a regular posting schedule of at least three posts per week on Facebook and Twitter Maintaining an active presence is vital to appease followers and increase wider engagement. And if you’re not posting great content, a competitor will be.

Check trends

The most successful small businesses are those whose owners are ahead of the game.

small business checklist

Keep tabs on what’s happening in your industry by:

  • Following industry leaders and your competitors on social media
  • Setting up Google Alerts for industry-relevant news
  • Reviewing news trends weekly

Keep up with trends and your business will stay relevant. Commit to reviewing new trends weekly and you’ll soon get a feel for changes in your market and even predict them before they happen. Be the first to present the next big thing and you’ll become an industry leader in your field.

Record transactions

Record all your account transactions, including:

  • Invoices
  • Payments
  • Cash purchases and receipts (including petty cash)

File away invoices and receipts in the right place so they are easily accessible. Separate into relevant categories like customer bills, customer payments, supplier invoices, supplier payments and cash purchases.

Prepare invoices

Prepare and send all invoices promptly to maintain a healthy cashflow. Remember to include your payment terms, and consider offering a discount for early payments to avoid outstanding dues.

small business checklist

Monthly tasks

Set aside a memorable day of each month (the last Monday, perhaps) to complete some of the larger and most vital business maintenance tasks.

Review your business plan

An effective business plan is a living, breathing document.

Use it to stay focused on your long-term goals and to help you prioritise smaller weekly tasks. By reviewing your business plan each month, you can assess your progress and tweak your goals as your business strategy evolves.

  • Have you seen significant changes this month which should be reflected in your future plans?
  • Do you need to alter your current goals or revamp them altogether?
  • Have you had a lightbulb moment this month which could change the shape of your business trajectory?

Track progress

What are your main business concerns this month? Review the progress you have made towards your goals this month and identify areas of weakness. If you are trying to build a stronger online presence, how is your social marketing plan working for you? If you haven’t reached your target, refine your strategy next month.

small business checklist

Networking (in person)

Networking sites like LinkedIn can be a great tool for building business relationships. But being proactive sometimes means getting out there and connecting with other business people and potential clients.

Become a member of your local Chamber of Commerce and attend monthly events with other small business owners. This is a useful way to build new relationships and benefit from the experience of other business savvy people.

Payroll

You can outsource your payroll to a bookkeeper or use an accounting software package.

Income tax and national insurance contributions must be deducted from employee wages and paid by the business owner to HMRC. Cloud accounting packages like Quickbooks and FreeAgent can make the necessary deductions for you and cut time spent on payroll administration.

Monthly financial review

Take a careful look at your income and outgoings so you can deal with issues before they roll into the next month.

  • Pay your suppliers on time: check the payment terms of each as these can vary by company. Late payments can damage those relationships you’ve worked hard to build.
  • Chase unpaid invoices: review overdue payments and contact late payers with a polite reminder.

Reconcile supplier statements

Before settling your account, check that all your invoices match your monthly statement. Look out for prices that don’t match those quoted, duplicate charges and simple errors.

Is your supplier still offering you a competitive price? Keep an eye out for price increases as your statement comes through and shop around regularly to make sure you’re getting the best deal. If you’re not sure, contact your supplier, they will value your custom and may be able to offer you a better deal to stay.

small business checklist

Balance the books

Reconcile all monthly transactions with your cash flow. Doing this each month will help you spot discrepancies before they become a problem and confirm you are working with the correct cash flow position.

Keep a tally of your monthly balances to track business growth. If you’ve seen a significant jump in profit or loss this month, why is this? Late payments can cause your books to fluctuate artificially, so make sure you record any impacting factors for an accurate picture of growth.

Manage your inventory

Whether you run a corner shop, a garage or a manufacturing business, your inventory is a top priority. Excess stock will restrict your cash flow and too little will see customers deferring to the competition.

Implement an efficient stock management system with specific reordering thresholds for big sellers and daily essentials. Monitoring your inventory closely will allow you to track changes in consumer behaviour and reflect these in your next forecast.

Communicate with your suppliers. They may be able to offer you a better deal, reduce your minimum order or offer new discounts

Follow up

Don’t miss out on this invaluable revenue stream. Commit to following up new leads and reconnecting with previous customers at least once a month.

  • Use a mailing list or regular newsletter to keep in touch with contacts. Share your latest news and developments with customers and suppliers with a well-written email campaign or newsletter.
  • Adjust your follow-up methods to suit your business needs. A product-focused newsletter can be a useful tool for shifting extra stock, whilst a personalised follow-up email will ensure your customers feel valued.
  • Got an Open Day or special event coming up? Use your follow-ups to invite customers along!

Use follow-up communications to request testimonials from happy customers and drum up interest around your latest projects. Don’t forget to review the conversion rates from last month’s campaign and identify areas for improvement.

small business checklist

Annual tasks

Visiting these tasks once a year can help ensure you are steering your business in the right direction.

Review insurance policies

How has your business evolved over the last 12 months? You may need to reflect this in your policies. Make sure you are adequately covered and check if you need:

Employer’s liability insurance

  • Sole traders who employ anyone other than close friends or family.
  • Limited Companies with any employees other than the founder.

Public liability insurance

  • If members of the public could be hurt when visiting your premises.

Business buildings insurance

  • Not required by law, but your business premises benefits from protection just like your home.

End of year accounts

Keep accurate monthly accounts and your end of year should be straightforward. Be sure to claim for all appropriate expenses, these can include stationery, equipment and fuel.

Self-assessment for sole traders

Your online tax return must be submitted and the balance paid by the 31st January. Keep accurate accounts throughout the year and set aside funds to cover the National Insurance and Income Tax contributions due on your profits.

Corporate tax for limited companies

In the UK, limited companies must pay an annual Corporate Tax on a percentage of their profits. If you have incorporated your business this year, you must submit your annual accounts to Companies House at the end of your financial year.

small business checklist

Inventory review

How has your stock performed this year? Identify your best sellers and any surplus products. Adjust your sales forecasts and order schedule accordingly to increase profit the following year.

Annual performance

Take a moment at the end of each year to review your annual performance. How do actual figures compare to your projections? Where can you reduce costs next year? Which areas need improvement, to continue towards your plans for growth?

Look at your last 12 months of trading and adjust your business plan to reflect the changes in your business or goals over the last year.

By handling these routine tasks throughout the year, you’ll be giving your business the best possible chance to grow and to succeed.

If you have benefitted from the tips in this article, please check out the rest of the Gazprom Energy blog for more of the latest SME news and features. Or, to find out about our range of business energy products for small businesses, visit our homepage or call 0845 230 0011.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of Gazprom Energy. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Gazprom Energy accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.



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