I’ve met enough small business owners to know that there are still plenty of you out there who have yet to move into the 21st century. For whatever reason, you’re still doing plenty of stuff that could be automated in your business. Or you’re doing things yourself that could be accomplished more efficiently by outsourcing to an expert.
Now is the time to take action. You simply cannot continue to do things the same way and expect different results, especially in this down economy. You will not survive.
Your primary focus, if your business is living on the edge between a red or black bottom line, should be cash flow. And to increase cash flow you have to sell. Anything that takes you away from selling is a threat to your cash flow.
That’s why when I read the recent Intuit “Get Paid” survey results, I just shook my head. The survey was conducted in early October 2008 and included responses from 751 small business owners with less than 10 employees.
According to the results, 66 percent of small businesses still handwrite invoices, use word processing programs and spreadsheets, or simply don’t have a standardized method.
Are you one of those businesses? It’s time for a change. You can sign up for online invoicing tools that will cost you about 10 bucks a month. Or you can use the free Billing Manager version provided by Intuit. Your time is worth more than 10 bucks a month. And if you’re spending your time manually invoicing, you’re not selling so you suffer a double whammy — you’re costing your business money and you’re not available to make a sale.
And here’s the case for outsourcing to an expert. Nearly 20 percent of small business owners admit to forgetting to invoice or follow up on an overdue invoice. Over 50 percent of these respondents admit that they are simply “not organized” and “lack an automated system for creating and tracking invoices.”
Ack! Find someone to take care of this for you now. Would you want to tell a bankruptcy judge you just were “not organized” and that’s why your business failed? How embarrassing would that be? You can find a reasonably priced virtual assistant who can handle this for you. That way you don’t have to worry about being disorganized and you can spend all of your time focusing on pumping up your bottom line by selling your heart out.
You can do your business a whole lot of good — and increase those sales too — simply by accepting credit cards. According to the survey, only 30 percent of small businesses accept credit cards and only 22 percent accept electronic checks. The most common forms of payment are standard checks with 85 percent followed by cash with 59 percent. People don’t carry much cash these days and plenty of them couldn’t find a check if they tried. And 20 percent of small businesses admit to having lost a customer because they could not accept credit cards. Don’t let that be your business.
If you’re serious about making the most of your cash flow, take a hard look at the things you are doing in your business. I bet you find at least one thing you can change by automating or outsourcing. Why not do that now and let me know what you found by leaving a comment. Or if you have a tip to offer, tell me about that too.
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About the Author: Denise O’Berry is a small business expert who provides tools, tips and advice to help small business owners be successful. O’Berry is the author of “Small Business Cash Flow: Strategies for Making Your Business a Financial Success” and Founder of the Minding Your Own Business online network. Her blog can be found at Just for Small Business.