Contractor Corner

Is Your Small Business Suffering From a Time Shortage?

The typical small business owner knows all too well that time is a vital, costly resource. This belief often leads to owners overworking themselves and employees with too much to accomplish during their 9-5. For many business owners, being “too busy” comes with the territory. In fact, many consider it a bragging point. In actuality, it’s a bad thing. Sure, you may be making more sales and profit in the short-term, but being too busy can have long-term negative effects on your business and health.

Working Longer Hours Doesn’t Increase Productivity

Recent studies have found that working more than 40 hours per week affects productivity – and not in a good way. The studies found that when workers hours were increased by 50%, their productivity was not proportionate. The expected outcome was that productivity would increase by 50% as well, but in fact, it only increased by 25%. That means workers were getting less work done with more time.

Working Less Is Actually Better for Business

Behavior analysts have thought for some time now that working too much is bad for you. It seems like common sense, but companies continue to push their employees to work long hours every day. But shorter hours actually make for happier employees, and happier employees make for better business.

You may have heard that Sweden recently elected to try out a six hour work day. While the final results won’t be released until 2016, the current effects look good. Nurses in an elderly home have been taking less sick time and feeling less stressed. A Toyota service center has had a six-hour workday in place for more than 10 years, and in that time, profits increased substantially.

Looking at the Work Week in a Different Light

Our society is heavily focused on workload. Business owners tend to respect employees that spend long hours working – and not necessarily the ones who offer the best performance. It’s just the way our working world has shaped us. Another study found that 39 of the participating managers favored employees who worked longer. They described them as “responsible and dependable.” But long hours don’t necessarily make a person dependable; finishing a project and achieving good results does. Small business owners and bosses should rethink how “success” is measured in the workplace.

Outsourcing Time-Consuming Tasks

Of course, that change is going to take a complete rewiring of thinking patterns. In the meantime, outsourcing extra tasks is one of the easiest and most effective ways to refocus your workforce. Whether you’re feeling pulled in too many directions yourself or your employees are clocking long hours, outsourcing is an effective way to offset a few time-consuming duties. There are plenty of daily tasks that are notorious “time-eaters.” From data entry to payroll, bookkeeping, and beyond, these things are easy to outsource without compromising quality.

Want to learn how you can save time and money? Find out how to put your company “In Charge” – schedule a call with us to get a free quote!


Why You Should Start Delegating Some of Your Workload

Small business owners naturally have trepidations about delegating workloads. You’ve built your enterprise from the ground up, so of course you feel wholly responsible for it. When your company is your life’s work, it’s hard to even imagine handing a fragment off to someone else. But trying to run an entire business alone isn’t brave or admirable; it’s a recipe for disaster. If you truly want to see your operation to succeed, there are some things you need to let others manage. It doesn’t have to be hard to let go, either.

It’s Time to Let Go Symptom 1: You’re Spending Too Much Time on Tedious Tasks

Do you want to spend more time running your business and less time doing administrative tasks? Many business owners get into their respective careers because they started a company doing something they love. But as their enterprises grow, owners find themselves doing less of what they love and more of the tedious tasks it takes to keep a business running. However, these can be delegated effectively, giving you more time to get back to what you love doing.

It’s Time to Let Go Symptom 2: Your Quality of Life (or Work) Is Suffering

Spreading yourself too thin is detrimental to your personal health and business. When you overwork yourself and spend long hours at the office or take extra work home, you start spending less time on other things. This could mean less family or personal time. It can also make your customer service and other aspects of your business suffer. When you do too many things at once, you dedicate less attention to each of them. If you notice your record-keeping habits are starting to suffer or your family is repeatedly asking for more attention, it’s definitely time to delegate a portion of your workload.

How to Delegate Without “Losing Control”

So you’ve finally made the decision to delegate some of your workload, but now you’re wondering how to do it effectively. Thankfully, it’s not a difficult thing to learn. Follow these basic guidelines:

  • Analyze your needs based on your skills. Is bookkeeping difficult for you? That should be the area you let a specialist handle.
  • Examine the options you have for delegating a specific task. Is it something you can outsource, or do you need to hire an in-house employee? What fits your budget?
  • Work with the other party to come up with a plan. The plan should include what specific tasks will be delegated, your business goals, and metrics for measuring progress.

Once a position is delegated, keep communication lines open at all times. It will help you feel more comfortable and make the process run smoothly. For example, weekly meetings or conferences are an excellent way to ensure you’re reaching your business goals together. Over time, you’ll build trust in one another and feel comfortable delegating other tasks in the future. Then you can take back your work day and return to what really matters.

Contractor in Charge handles a variety of easily-delegated tasks, like bookkeeping, payroll, scheduling, and more. Find out how to put your company “In Charge” – schedule a call with us to get a free quote!


Is Your Business’s Financial Data Accurate?

For small business owners unfamiliar with accounting, it can be difficult to judge how well their accountant or administrative assistant is gathering data. It’s easy to be intimidated by the task or to see it as unnecessary to a business’s growth.

Accurate financial data serves two main purposes. The main and most obvious one is to keep your business out of the red. But the second (often overlooked) purpose is to leverage that data to make important financial decisions, like purchases, budget cuts, and securing loans. This is where the accuracy of your financial data is imperative. Many entrepreneurs consider ensuring pinpoint accuracy an unnecessary task, but it can significantly affect your business.

What Good Financial Records Do for Your Business

A basic recordkeeping system will track the flow of revenue through your business, including how much you’re spending, how much you’re making, and if you face any potential dangers in the future. This information, if kept accurately, can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Tracking debts, creditors, and expenses to keep you up to date on payments
  • Applying for loans and other type of funding
  • Saving time and money on accounting and other finance-related tasks
  • Accurately calculating and paying your taxes while finding credits and tax breaks
  • Ensuring compliance with payroll laws and tax codes
  • Finding discrepancies or inefficiencies within the business that are costing you money; for example, irresponsible purchasing decisions

Clearly, using financial data for these kinds of information can save your business a great deal of time and money and help you make future decisions. Taking the time now to measure and improve the accuracy of your financial data will give you a substantial ROI.

Bookkeeping 101: Learning the Basics

Good bookkeeping starts with a strong foundation of basic habits. At its bare minimum, your financial analysis should tell you:

  • How much money is lost or made in a given fiscal period
  • If your business model is financially sound and will continue to be
  • What potential problems you may face in the short and long term

Acquiring this information can be done with a few simple bookkeeping tasks. On a daily/weekly basis, you should be recording transactions in a spreadsheet or bookkeeping software. This includes billing customers, paying vendors, and other cash flow.

You should also be documenting and storing receipts for expenses on a regular basis. Expenses should be broken up into vendor and business expenses and overhead expenses, like payroll. Lastly, you need a system in place for reviewing and tracking unpaid bills. These very basic tasks set the foundation for good bookkeeping habits.

Growing Bookkeeping Tasks Alongside Your Business

As your business grows, bookkeeping will naturally become more time-consuming and complex. Ensuring accuracy will become more difficult, but also more important. At this stage, many small businesses choose to use a bookkeeping service. Most help companies keep accurate records, but they also help entrepreneurs leverage that information. For many business owners, it’s worth the investment to know their financial records are safe, accurate, and easily accessed when important financial decisions need to be made.

Contractor in Charge offers a wealth of bookkeeping and accounting services that make your work life easier. Find out how to put your company “In Charge” – schedule a call with us to get a free quote!


Why You Always Need Customer Records at Your Fingertips

Customers have high expectations, and the last thing they want to do is resupply information your business should already have. We live in the information age, where information is easily accessed, shared, and stored. As such, customers expect companies to keep records of pertinent information, like customer history and other documents.

This is especially true in industries where customers have little expertise, such as car or computer repair. The customer likely doesn’t know the specifications of their models, but if they worked with your company in the past year, they expect you to know. Having easy and organized access to this information is beneficial to both parties, since it cuts down on wait time and boosts productivity. As a small business owner, organizing customer records may be far down on your priority list. After all, you have plenty of other tasks at hand. In reality, it’s one of the most important things you can do.

Keep Customer Records Organized

The easiest way to lose customer records is to keep them in an unorganized manner. For example, many industries still use paper invoicing slips and other traditional methods of keeping customer records. Sometimes this is necessary, but it shouldn’t lead to disorganization. Store your customer records somewhere safe and categorized, and keep your best client’s accounts close by so they’re easily accessible.

When your customers schedule an appointment or service call, you’ll find their purchase history and personal information easily. Keep records updated, as well, so you don’t end up sending invoices to the wrong address.

Consider Using Service Management Software

Service management software keeps your customer information organized so you don’t have to worry about it. It’s digital, so once you input necessary information, the system will store it in a searchable database. It’s like an electronic version of your filing cabinet, except with less dust and easier navigability.

Software like this is invaluable to service-related industries. For example, if one of your customers calls about a problem with appliances you installed, you can quickly look up the invoice and find out the manufacturer specs and other information you’ll need for troubleshooting. You can also use this software to automate communications, manage marketing campaigns, and update customer records.

Fine-Tune Your Bookkeeping Habits

Keeping financial records organized is just as important to customers as it is to you. If you don’t have experience in bookkeeping, it’s critical that you depend on someone who is. Unorganized bookkeeping can lead to discrepancies, potentially losing you hundreds or thousands of dollars. It’s your responsibility as a business owner to make sure customers are billed correctly and on time. Customers don’t want to chase down businesses to make a payment, and they want to make sure they’re getting the best deal. Your bookkeeping department holds the key to saving customers – and your business – money.

If bookkeeping isn’t your strong suit (like many business owners), you may want to consider outsourcing. Contractor in Charge offers a variety of services for small businesses, including bookkeeping and payroll. Find out how to put your company “In Charge” – schedule a call with us to get a free quote!


Keeping Good Customer Records (and record numbers of good customers!)

3 Signs You Need to Get Your Business Organized

As a small business owner, you probably started in your respective field because of your experience in the industry. Maybe it was a childhood dream of yours, or maybe you realized you had a knack for your job. Either way, you now run a small business based on your expertise. However, while many business owners have ample experience in the industry, they often lack the experience to handle back-office operations like HR and accounting.

This can lead to disorganization and even neglect, which isn’t good for your business. Poor organization can reduce a company’s ability to grow, turn away its clients, or even land it in trouble with the IRS. With limited resources, small operations don’t always have the option to hire a dedicated administrative team, so some stay in a continuous state of disorganization. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.

How to Tell if Disorganization Is Affecting Your Business

If you find yourself buried in paperwork in the back office or struggling to multi-task administrative tasks, it may be time to consider outsourcing a department or two. Think about how you allocate your daily duties. Are you spending too much time figuring out payroll or getting expenses organized? Do you end up having to take home extra work at the end of the day because you’re spending precious business hours doing data entry?

When administrative tasks impede on your ability to run your business, it can have a significant effect on your profits and enterprise as a whole. Luckily, almost any administrative aspect of a business can be outsourced; the trick is knowing which one you need help with most.

What Are the More Common Departments to Outsource?

Outsourcing is an incredible way get your business organized and increase productivity, and payroll and HR are some of the biggest departments small businesses contract out. However, both of these are governed by ever-changing tax and employment laws. Entrepreneurs that don’t understand or have time to keep up with these laws risk non-compliancy fines and serious trouble. That’s why many work with outsourcing companies that specialize in these areas.

Finding the Best Outsourcing Solution for Your Business

So how do you go about finding the best outsourcing solution? As a small business, you may not have the desire or funds to switch all departments, which is actually a good thing. For example, outsourcing customer service isn’t always the best idea, especially if clients love your personal size and charm. Think about which departments you want to outsource:

  • What activities impact your ability to make a profit? Would outsourcing these activities free up time?
  • If a particular job is temporary or occurs in cycles (such as payroll), outsourcing might be more cost-effective than having an in-house team.
  • Does the job entail a particular skill, like accounting, that you don’t understand?
  • Outsourcing routine jobs such as data-entry may also be cost-effective and time-saving.

Not all business owners are the same, so it’s important to consider what departments would most benefit you if outsourced. Contractor in Charge offers a suite of services, including bookkeeping, dispatch, and payroll. Find out how to put your company “In Charge” – schedule a call with us to get a free quote!


3 Ways to Train Your Employees on a Budget

Small business owners have to take on many roles, sometimes including the role of a trainer. You want the best out of your employees, and sometimes that means they need a little extra instruction. Employee training is equally beneficial to the employee and the company, but only when it’s done by the right person. A bad trainer can actually lead to decreased motivation, productivity, and unclear goals. In many cases, small business owners take on the role personally – and the results aren’t always good. So how can you be sure your employees are getting quality training?

Call on Other Employees for Their Skills

When you’re just starting out, training your first few employees isn’t very difficult. But as your business grows, you’ll probably find you have less time to dedicate to training newcomers. Calling upon the expertise of your other employees is an excellent way to delegate some of the training duties.

Seasoned employees are a wonderful training resource, as they know the “flow” of the company. They’ve spent enough time on the job that they know how to efficiently get things done. Best of all, you can use their individual personality strengths to balance each other’s, your own, and the new employees. For example, one of your employees may be better with teaching hands-on training, while another may be better at developing a training manual with you.

Utilize Continuing Education Classes

Whether you want to learn new management skills or want your employees to learn some industry tips, training classes are a fantastic option. Harness the power of training classes by either developing one yourself or looking elsewhere. If you want to develop a program, gather input from other employees and professionals in your industry. Put together a training class that clearly outlines your company goals and how trainees can meet them.

On the other hand, you can look to outside resources, like professional training classes. Some training modules only include industry specific skills, while others include a more comprehensive approach, similar to a college course. Training can be delivered through off-site classes or online.

Invest in a Professional Training Program

Professional trainers work with you to identify specific objectives for your business and then train your employees on how to best serve you. Employee training reduces turnover rates and increases productivity. It can also be used as a recruiting perk, which often leads to higher quality candidates.

Training companies are one of the best resources for employee training; professional training has a significant ROI and benefits both employee and employer tremendously. Of course, as a small business owner, you may not have the immediate funds to do so. If that’s the case, consider an outside resource to help you plan and execute an effective training program.

Services like Contractor in Charge help small business owners allocate funds for special projects, like professional employee training programs. Find out how to put your company “In Charge” – schedule a call with us to get a free quote!