How to Manage Your Small Business Finances in Just One Hour a Week
How much time do you spend managing your small business finances? For many business owners the answer is "too much". It's a burden that can take time away from more important tasks like finding new customers, closing sales and addressing customer service issues. Even though it may not be your top priority, failing to deal with your company's finances can lead to serious problems up to and including bankruptcy. It's not worth losing your business because you failed to spend time managing your cash balances or handling your bookkeeping. Instead, here are some suggestions on how you can reduce the time needed to manage them.
Prepare Your List of Responsibilities and Organize Them by Frequency
Many small businesses don't have a written list of the tasks that comprise managing their small business finances. This month manage your finances like you normally would, but when you finish, record what you did, when you did it, and how long it took in an MS Word document or MS Excel worksheet.
After a month you should have a good idea of what it means to manage your small business finances. Next, compare your list to the National Federation of Independent Businesses' detailed checklist of the areas of responsibility for small business finance. Fill in any missing gaps.
Then take your list and organize it by frequency: daily tasks, weekly tasks, monthly tasks, and "as-needed" tasks.
Prepare a Simple, Repeatable, and Teachable Process for Each Responsibility
Each small business finance responsibility can be organized into simple, repeatable, and teachable tasks. This means that others can take over, leaving you more time to manage more important areas of the businesses.
Some business owners may have concerns with sharing access-granting information like passwords with others, especially when it comes to a sensitive area like finances. Some online accounting programs provide user-level access controls. Another idea is to use a program like LastPass, which allows you to share a username and password without the other person actually seeing the password. This access can be controlled and revoked at any time.
A great tool to help with this process is to use a recording program like Screencast-O-Matic or Camtasia. For each task, record what is happening on your screen as you narrate it. This provides a great way for others to learn how to manage the tasks without taking up too much of your time with training. It also provides a chance to watch the "replay" and find better, faster ways to complete the task.
Streamline Your Process through Automation and Outsourcing
After you have prepared your list of processes for responsibilities, identify which steps can be automated. Some online accounting programs allow you to effectively automate invoice distribution, the recording of certain transactions, and secure data backups. Some tasks, like evaluating flagged transactions, or journaling a split transaction, or entering data from an employee expense report may require human intervention. Ask yourself if someone else can do that for you. Certain services can help you both outsource and automate certain bookkeeping and accounting functions as well.