One of the most important qualities to have as a small business owner is strong organizational skills. Brilliant ideas can launch a company, but it’s attention to detail that will maintain and grow your organization. When organizing a business, there are some key focal points to attend to: accounting, planning, physical items and storage, and marketing. In this article, we’ll expand on each of these topics to show you how to organize your business and take it to the next level.
Manage your finances
Organizing a small business begins with getting your financial house in order. Financial management is the most powerful driver of business success. Your company will only ever be as good as your accounting. Of course, how you manage your books will depend on the size and complexity of your cash flow.
Set up a system or use tools to invoice customers
An essential part of keeping your business organized is making sure customer invoices are paid. The best way to stay on top of this is to set up a system to track outstanding and paid invoices, as well as a process to follow up when payments aren’t made. How this system is set up will be unique to the products or services you offer.
Depending on how many invoices you send on a monthly basis, it might be smart to use invoicing software to help you send invoices, remind customers of needed payments, and help you organize invoicing history. If your business offerings require recurring payment, you can also find a service to help you automate billing. NorthOne offers bill pay services to streamline this process.
Keep track of your expenses and automate payments
As well as tracking upcoming payments, you should organize your business expenses and when possible automate payments to reduce your workload. You can use a spreadsheet to manually track one-time recurring expenses, but we recommend you save yourself some time by using an accounting software like Quickbooks which can automate and simplify the process. Staying on top of your monthly expenses will help you gain a better picture of your business’s financial health and profitability.
You can use a business bank account like NorthOne to schedule or make payments via ACH transfer. You can also connect NorthOne to accounting software like Quickbooks and Freshbooks to track these payments automatically.
Hire a professional bookkeeper or accountant to manage your finances
If you find that your finances are more complicated than you feel comfortable managing, or if your company is experiencing a lot of growth, hiring a professional is the best option. This is an easy choice to make if you have the income to cover the hire, but for smaller businesses there are some ways to keep costs down while still getting the help you need.
- Hire a bookkeeper rather than an accountant. A professional accountant is the best choice if you have the money, but because they have a college degree they command a higher salary. A bookkeeper can be hired for less, as they don’t require a degree.
- Hire an accountant or bookkeeper on a consulting basis. They can get your books in order, and yet are not full-time employees and don’t you require you to pay out benefits.
Manage the bookkeeping yourself
If your business is small, or if you have a knack for numbers yourself you may choose to do your own bookkeeping. If you do this, invest in good accounting software to help. This software will collect information and generate reports that are integral to the financial health of your business.
Another thing you might consider is the use of a tax consultant. They wouldn’t be a part of your regular staff, you can just use them when you need them on an hourly basis. This is particularly helpful during tax time or when putting together financial reports.
Open a business bank account
One thing that you need to do regardless of how you manage your finances is open a business bank account. To avoid conflicts of interest, personal and professional bank accounts should be completely separate. It’s one of the most important ways to organize a business.
When considering business bank accounts for your business, you should look for features which make business management more efficient. NorthOne offers banking features including mobile check deposit so you can cash checks from your phone, fee-less ATM access so you can access cash nearly anywhere, and Envelopes so you can save funds for different purposes all within a single deposit account.
Write down your business goals
To really get the most out of your business, you want to have a series of strategic organizational goals. You won’t get what you want out of your business unless you can clearly define what you want to see. Then you’ll be able to set up a roadmap of how you plan to achieve the things you want.
Create a Business Plan
Small business organization relies on maintaining a good business plan.There’s no one way to write a business plan, it really depends on your own needs. There are some common sections that you can work with to make the plan your own. You can pull several (or all) of the following to create a business plan:
- The executive summary briefly defines your company mission, and gives a summary of leadership, employees, and location. If you intend to look for financial backers, you’ll want to add financial information.
- An organization and management section should explain who is running your company, and how it’s structured. How is leadership organized–who is in charge of what, and why? Are you incorporated, or do you intend to become incorporated? Under what business structure?
- The company structure section is the place to list the strengths of your organization. What do you offer that others don’t? Talk about the problems that you solve, and include any competitive advantages. Do you have the perfect location? An expert team? Lay it out here.
- Market analysis should ask what other companies in your industry are doing to succeed. Then, take some time to decide how you can do it better.
- Lay out your service or product line. What do you offer, and how will it benefit the consumer?
- Marketing and sales will expound upon how you intend to both attract and retain customers.
- A funding request is where you detail your funding requirements. Be detailed in just what you need and how you intend to use it. This should offer a clear snapshot of the next five years, financially.
- Financial projections can be used as a supplement to your funding request. Break down the numbers to get investors excited about financing your business. If your business is already up and running, share cash flow statements, balance sheets, and income statements from the last 5 years. You’ll also want to forecast the next 5 years with those same reports, as well as capital expenditure budgets.
Organize your office space, items, and storage
A well-organized and clean physical space to work in is also an important part of a successful, organized business. If you have a brick-and-mortar space that is open to the public, how you present yourself is key. A messy office or retail space does not inspire confidence in consumers.
Beyond that, it’s difficult to function efficiently in an area that doesn’t make sense. You want your office space to be accessible, convenient, and easily operated. Only then can you get the most out of yourself and others. Messy spaces create messy minds.
Finally, when reports are due you need to know where to find them. Your storage space should have an excellent filing system to allow quick and easy access to any hard copies required for reference during tax season, or any other reporting period.
Create goals, milestones and rewards for your staff
A motivated staff is a hardworking staff. Don’t trust goodwill alone–really take some time to create goals, milestones, and rewards to keep your employees on top of their game. While the natural thing is to assume money is the best motivator, this isn’t necessarily true.
Studies show that intrinsic rewards are more powerful. Intrinsic motivators are those that create feelings of strength and satisfaction within. The happiest employees are ones that feel heard and appreciated.
- Provide regular coaching and feedback on staff performance.
- Offer career planning and support so that they have a clear idea of their value to the company.
- Give them greater flexibility in their schedules, if possible.
- Provide recognition for exceptional performance. Talk to each employee about how recognition is best expressed. Some might like a public commendation, others might prefer one-on-one.
Create a Marketing Plan
Never leave business to intuition or chance. By creating a marketing plan you gain an excellent idea of just what actions you need to take to achieve your business goals–to organize your business Your marketing plan will have some areas of overlap with your business plan, and should cover these areas:
- A business description. This looks like a combination of your executive summary and company structure mentioned earlier in the article.
- Market research and analysis
- Price analysis
- Customer profile
- Analysis of the competition
- Goals and objectives
- Marketing methods and strategies
- Success metrics
Create a social media strategy
Even the most niche markets utilize the power of social media to amplify their products and services. It’s an important and powerful tool to build brand awareness for your business, and developing a social media strategy should be a top priority in your marketing plans.
To begin, you want to make sure you have an extremely good grasp on your brand look and voice. Decide exactly who your audience is, and how you intend to interact with them. For businesses that cater to older consumers, or require a level of trust (insurance, finance, banking), a more formal tone is appropriate. In national or global companies you see this turned on its head, but it’s usually best to leave that kind of bold strategy to the global advertising firms.
With a younger audience you may choose to play it more informal–snarky, earnest, goofy…there are a lot of possibilities. Find the voice that fits your company mission and values. The important thing is to keep your audience engaged.
It’s also important to offer quality content. Share information that is relevant to your brand and is of use to your audience. Tutorials, motivational posts, interesting facts, infographics, etc. Of course you can also sprinkle this with new customer promotions and loyalty discounts.
Create a Content Calendar
Keep that content coming regularly by creating a content calendar. Your content won’t be as effective if it’s shared in fits and starts, or if you release large chunks at a time and then have a long period of silence.
Create an online calendar and set up reminders so that you can put your focus elsewhere.
It’s best practice to have a solid collection of content to share. Work ahead to have it ready, and then create a posting schedule. Work far enough ahead that you aren’t stuck without a piece of content, but not so far ahead that your content loses relevance.
It’s also a good idea to have some posts that are appropriate to holidays. And we mean anything–it can be National Ice Cream Day, Movember, National Rubber Ducky Day…whatever can be reasonably linked to your brand.
Organization isn’t just about Marie Kondoing your office space, or color coding your files. It’s the key to a more functional, dynamic, and thriving business. To know where you’re going, it’s imperative to know where you are, where you want to be, and when you want to get there. When you organize a business through performance goals, metrics, and a solid marketing plan, you’ll know when you’re on the path to success.
Finally, remember that one of the best ways to organize a business is to keep your business funds completely separate from personal funds. If you’re currently looking for a business bank, NorthOne is a trusted, reliable source for banking needs. Sign up for NorthOne today and get a limited time reward of $50 when you deposit $50.