Small-business owners often assume that they can do every job themselves. They happily sign themselves up to handle the administration, finances, product development, market research, public relations and promotional copy, and find themselves overwhelmed with the complicated balancing act of running multiple areas of a business simultaneously.
At the same time, many small-business owners know they can’t yet afford to hire a full staff. Small businesses operate on the tiniest of profit margins, and most small businesses take at least three years to become fully profitable.
If you’re a small-business owner, or if you’re thinking about starting a business, here are five ways to get the support you need until you can afford to hire a full staff:
If your business involves a lot of administrative grunt work, it’s time to hire a virtual assistant. These freelance workers handle basic data entry and administrative tasks, like content management, invoice tracking and inventory. Some virtual assistants even act as executive assistants, managing and drafting email correspondence, booking travel and sending press releases.
The best part? Many of these virtual assistants are highly-educated global workers, allowing you to save money by taking advantage of international currency rates.
Contract Management Systems
The best way to handle your contract administration is to offload it to a service. If you need to manage multiple healthcare contracts, for example, look for a company specializing in healthcare contract management solutions. These third-party systems are much less expensive than hiring a single person to track your contract data. They also ensure your contracts are legal and provide a method of recourse should your clients fail to pay.
A few lines of code can make the difference between a website that’s easy to find and a website no one sees. Learn the basic fundamentals of SEO (aka “Search Engine Optimization”) and then consider hiring a SEO expert to add heading tags, metatext and other SEO fundamentals to your business’s website. Without SEO in place, your customers will not be able to find your business through online searches. Keep in mind that search engines frequently change SEO requirements, so budget for a yearly SEO update.
Even if you consider yourself an expert at drawing up budgets, you need to hire an accountant. Don’t pay for a full-time accountant; instead, work with an accounting service and book sessions every quarter for a financial check-up. A skilled accountant will be able to tell you whether your budgets are realistic, provide guidance on tricky items like depreciation and make sure you are tracking everything appropriately for tax purposes. Don’t lose money because you don’t understand every aspect of the GAAP, or “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.” Instead, work with someone who understands them completely.
Project Management Services
The last item you need for your small business is an effective project management service. Invest in one of the popular software or online platforms like Microsoft Project or Basecamp. It’s a minor expense that gives major results, as being able to plan and track every aspect of multiple projects helps you clearly see which projects are on task, which are falling behind and which are critical to your business’s success. Never start a workday without opening up your project management software and letting it tell you exactly what you need to complete by the end of the day to keep your projects – and your profits – on target.
By adding these five low-cost support tools to your small business, you’ll be able to offload the majority of your business administration and free yourself up to focus on your business’s products or services. You’ll get more done in less time and increase your profits, helping to ensure your business’s success.
Guest Post by Becky