Most people know when they’re coming down with something; they feel sluggish, suffer aches and pains and they’re pretty good at recognising what certain symptoms may lead to. But what about recognising symptoms in your small business? If you’re struggling to balance your books and dreading the daily slog as soon as you enter your office, it may be time for your business to have a health check.
While you can’t use VapoRub to unblock your cash flow, there are some tricks and tools to help you get back on track. Here’s some symptoms every small business owner should look out for:
Symptom 1: You’re suffering overtime exhaustion
Work time is creeping into down time. According to a recent survey by Invoice2go, 61 per cent of Australian small business owners worked over the holidays in some capacity. More than one in five business owners reported that they couldn’t afford to take time off. Working yourself into the ground is one of the worst things you can do for yourself, and your business.
Cure: Be real with your limits and take time out to hit refresh. Block out specific “no work” times to spend with family, friends or for some personal time. Your best ideas will come to you when you’re not at work. To help lighten the load, outsource smaller tasks that someone else can do. Try using a site like Upwork or hire a virtual assistant, and use simple technology to automate every process you can.
Symptom 2: You’ve got filing congestion
Your office is cluttered with paperwork and you can’t find important documents and receipts. Not only are you wasting time hunting for things, you’re running the risk of failing to file reports on time, such as your BAS.
Cure: Go digital: start storing documents in the cloud. You’ll be able to retrieve files from any location and they’ll be easily searchable by date, title, content or whatever you choose. Ditch the shoebox and instead snap and upload your receipts with an app on your smartphone.
Symptom 3: You’re haemorrhaging cash
Business is booming but where’s the money? You’re suffering a cash crisis. Your costs are spiralling, and you’re not getting paid in a timely manner, and in some cases, you’re forgetting to bill and not getting paid at all.
Cure: Make sure you’re invoicing immediately after the job, so the work is fresh on your customers’ minds, and you have a better chance of getting all the details right. This will limit questions your customers may have and ultimately get you paid quicker. Look at what debts are owed to you, follow up with who still owes you money, and look at how you can limit expenditure with simple cutbacks. Data shows that a third of Australian small business owners send up to 50 invoices per month: that’s a lot to keep track of and chase up if you’re doing it manually.
Symptom 4: You’ve got RSI from admin tasks
Your admin piles up, causing you to spend nights and weekends doing “homework”, and you’re spending more time on admin than on growing the business.
Cure: Use mobile apps to stay productive as you work, rather than letting everything accumulate into a large, overwhelming job. You can create and send professional invoices right on the job with an app like Invoice2go. More than two thirds of people using invoicing apps were up to date with admin before the end of the year.
Symptom 5: You’ve got fuzzy vision
You’re struggling to focus on your long-term strategy and the bigger picture, and find yourself pursuing many directions at once.
Cure: Focus, focus, focus, and play to your strengths. You’ll have no shortage of ideas on how you can expand your business, but with limited resources you’ll be best served by remaining true to what made you good in the first place.
Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses and think about how you can leverage those strengths to go deeper into the core problem you’re trying to solve. This will make it easier to clearly see where you need to be taking your business, and how you can succeed in the long run.
Chris Strode is the founder of Invoice2Go.