The New Year is a great time to re-examine your business. And I’ve found that looking for opportunities to grow and optimize my business is the way to do it.
Optimization is a common term thrown around in marketing. It refers to improving and streamlining marketing channels, campaigns and customer experiences.
You can use that same concept to improve your business.
An intelligently optimized small business can operate efficiently, streamline profits and significantly outpace the competition. If you put in the effort, you save time and money – making your business that much stronger.
I’ve been discovering the importance of optimization over the years of running my own small business. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing some ways that you can become optimized.
1. Organize Your Marketing Efforts
Marketing is the lifeblood of your business. It’s how you find new clients and customers.
But if you’re like me, you don’t have hours to spend investing in your own marketing. That’s why organizing your efforts is so important. A couple of ways I do this includes:
- Create an editorial calendar. I’m not going to write on a consistent basis if it’s not planned ahead of time. Calendars help me stay organized by letting me know what I need to do and when.
- Choose social media wisely. There are so many social networks out there these days. Don’t get overwhelmed. Start with one or two, then add more as it makes sense.
- Outsource small projects. If you have some extra money in your budget, think about hiring a virtual assistant, graphic designer or writer to handle some tedious tasks.
A truly organized marketing campaign plays to your strengths. When you’re pressed for time, there’s no need to invest in your weaknesses. For the greatest returns, highlight the things that you’re good at with marketing.
2. Ace Your Administration
Managing a small business requires developing a skill for administration. You may have to manage a sales team, development team, customer service team and managerial team all at the same time. Becoming an organized leader will increase your effectiveness.
Get organized by really starting to use a project management solution to easily assign work to employees and contractors. Systems like Asana or Basecamp are perfect for small businesses.
3. Strive for Flawless Finances
Your finances are one of the areas of your business that requires stringent organization. Keeping flawless finances will help you grow leaps and bounds by understanding your expenses, expected tax filings and working capital.
Using accounting software, such as FreshBooks, can do wonders for organization and financial reporting (espically at tax time). Keeping your finances in order will also help you avoid an audit. Plus, you’ll be prepared should you face one.
4. Streamline Your Scheduling
One of the best things I’ve done to become organized is consolidating to one app or calendar.
It’s a hefty goal, and you’ll go through a lot of trial and error. But you’ll love it once it’s done. I use Google Calendar because I can easily integrate it with the other services I use with my business. But you may find something else works better for your needs.
Having your social and work life in one place keeps your schedule and tasks organized.
5. Perfect Your Payroll
Paying people on time is one of the most important parts of your business.
Use the New Year to examine your payroll processes. Have there been any issues over the past year that resulted in someone getting paid late, or not being paid at all? Have those issues been corrected?
If you aren’t having any payroll issues, take a look at ways to streamline the process to reduce how much money managing payroll is costing the business. You may be able to use different software that minimizes how much time processing payroll requires.
6. Wrangle Your Workforce
Use the New Year to examine everyone that’s working for you, both contractors and employees. Are they performing as expected? Do you need to hire more employees, or look for more contractors?
I’ve found that organizing the people on my team is the most challenging of all.
It starts by putting the right person in the job. Then making sure that you have clearly defined roles, responsibilities and processes that make it possible for them to complete the work.
7. Optimize Your Office
I’m a huge proponent of constantly examining the efficiency of your physical space – your office. With more and more business taking place online, entirely too many business owners let their offices fall into disarray.
Put some time into organizing your office for efficiency. Ditch anything that you don’t use regularly and buy new tools to help keep you organized. You’ll be amazed at how productive you’ll feel with an organized office.
8. Get Intimate with IT
It’s easy for small business owners to neglect their technical infrastructure until something goes wrong.
Use the New Year to examine all the technology being used by your business and employees. Have there been any technological advancements that can improve your business?
New networking devices, mobile devices and software solutions are released seemingly constantly. While you don’t need to stress over every latest release, look for any release that substantially increases the speed of sharing information throughout our business.
9. Organize Your Yearly Calendar
Research all of the major conventions or conferences you’d like to attend for the year and all the projects you’d like to get done. Choose those conventions and conferences that would help you with your projects.
Optimize your schedule and potential correlated projects around these conventions. Feeding off what you learned and the momentum of the convention will jump start your projects saving you time and effort.
10. Master Time Management
Effective organizing often comes down to time management.
Take some this month to explore and pursue different time management systems. I’m partial to the Pomodoro Technique, which calls for working in 25 minute chunks separated by 5 minute breaks. This helps me become hyper focused on the task at hand, knowing that a break is never far away.
Explore different systems and discover which one works best with you and your business. Learning how to manage your time will supercharge every other method of optimization on this list.
11. Protect Physical Paperwork
Even though most businesses conduct themselves largely online, there are still massive amounts of paperwork generated by almost every business. Receipts for business purchases, bank statements and shipping orders still exist primarily as paperwork.
Optimize your system for managing and protecting your physical paperwork. Sort paperwork based on when it will need to be accessed.
Keep anything you’ll access weekly or daily in your office, and store everything else at another location for when it’s needed.
Ready to Get Organized?
Make the most of the New Year by optimizing several aspects of your business. Businesses that have optimized their processes and departments are poised for success.
Have you had success with any of these optimization methods? Any tips that you’d add to help other business owners become optimized? Let us know!