With so much to take care of, it’s perhaps no surprise small business owners rack up 13 working hours a week more than the UK average. Despite these figures, 28% of SME owners believe their health is being negatively affected by the long working hours. As an entrepreneur, you might think you need 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.
The essential day-to-day responsibilities which keep your business streamlined and working to its fullest; these are quick fixes and small things you can do to give yourself a little more peace of mind.
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’ll reward you with loyal service and greater productivity.
And if things aren’t going to plan, you can be there to offer guidance and get things back on track.
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:
Always ensure you keep a daily record of incoming and outgoing payments too.
Slightly more substantial, these duties may require you to set aside more time each week, but if you’re looking to improve your organisation skills and stay abreast of the industry, then these can be invaluable.
Successful business people tend to have one thing in common: a clear idea of where they are and where they want to be, with a proper goal-setting and measurement framework in place.
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, for example, break that down into smaller tasks such as:
Today’s big players didn’t get to where they are without a strong online presence.
Allocate a few hours each week to uploading your latest news to social media, including:
You can save time by using an online scheduling tool like Agora Pulse to schedule and publish posts over different platforms, from one place.
We recommend a regular posting schedule of at least three posts per week on Facebook and Twitter. Maintaining an active presence on all major social platforms is vital if you’re looking to appease followers and increase wider engagement. And if you’re not posting great content, a competitor will be.
Be sure to interact with your audience too, as it’s a great way to build trust and loyalty. Be transparent with them; when the opportunity to connect on a deeper level presents itself, go for it.
The most successful small businesses are those whose owners are ahead of the game.
Keep tabs on what’s happening in your industry by:
Keep up with trends and your business stands a better chance of staying relevant. Commit to reviewing new trends weekly and you’ll soon get a feel for changes in your market and maybe 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 all your account transactions, including:
File away invoices and receipts in the right place so they’re easily accessible. Separate into relevant categories like customer bills, customer payments, supplier invoices, supplier payments and cash purchases.
Prepare and send all invoices promptly to maintain a healthy cashflow. When doing so, remember to include your payment terms, and consider offering a discount for early payments to avoid outstanding dues.
Even if you’re a cautious spender, it can still be fairly easy to run over your budget. If you’ve given any employees a company credit card and the authorisation for them to spend freely, then expenses can get out of control.
Comparing your monthly profit and loss reports with your business budget every week can help with spending decisions so you can avoid those end-of-the-month shocks when you see the bottom line.
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Set aside a particular day of each month (the last Monday, perhaps) to complete some of the larger and more vital business maintenance tasks.
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 the business strategy evolves.
What are your main business concerns this month? Review the progress you’ve made towards your goals this month and identify areas of weakness. If you’re trying to build a stronger online presence, how is your social marketing plan working for you? If you haven’t reached your target, consider refining your strategy next month.
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 in person.
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.
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, allowing you to focus on other duties as a result.
Take a careful look at your income and outgoings so you can deal with issues before they roll into the next month.
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.
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.
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. For more information on stock management, check out our step-by-step guide.
Communicate with your suppliers. They may be able to offer you a better deal, reduce your minimum order or offer new discounts.
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 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.
Data breaches are an alarmingly common occurrence. Instead of taking a risk with your hard drives, use cloud-based applications to store your most valuable information; not only will it be readily available, it’s automatically backed up too.
If you do use your hard drive to store data, then commit to doing a monthly back up online or to an external device. Aim to follow cybersecurity best practices for your business and industry, to minimise the risks to your operations.
Don’t forget, it’s important to maintain a work/life balance too. Taking the time to focus on your health, family and friends, as well as having hobbies to unwind with is just as essential as what you do in the office.
Visiting these tasks once a year can help to ensure you are steering your business in the right direction and put you on a path for the upcoming 12 months.
How has your business evolved over the last 12 months? You may need to reflect this in your policies. Make sure your business is adequately insured and check if you need:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gazprom Energy is a leading and award-winning business energy supplier, helping thousands of small businesses manage their gas and electricity contracts. To find out more about what we can offer your business, visit the homepage or call us today on 0161 837 3395.
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