There is a popular saying in the South that is appropriate in the world of small business: “It’s hard to drain the swamp when you’re up to your elbows in alligators.” For small-business owners, with limited time and resources, it is difficult to keep control of finances when most of your time is spent just keeping the business going. Customers are calling, shipments must be unloaded, orders are pending, and employees are complaining. All of these distractions can keep a small-business owner or manager from taking a hard look at finances.The issue is not necessarily when to examine finances, but how small businesses manageexpenses and finances. Applying the following tips could actually give you the time you need to get a handle on your finances: 

  • Keep your focus on your goals. Every business should have a set of goals that are established in the strategic plan. Those goals can include sales, of course, but also profit margin, profit dollars and expense controls. These key performance indicators (KPIs) will dictate how you spend your time with all other company initiatives.

  • Utilize technology effectively. Make sure all of your expense systems are able to accurately and reliably track every transaction. If there are issues with your data integrity that make you question whether you can trust the numbers, then you need to perform a detailed audit and resolve those issues immediately. You must be able to trust the information that is provided in order to make good business decisions.

  • No more paper pushing. If any part of your business still relies heavily on pieces of paper, it is time to look at ways to automate and eliminate that need. Not only does paper add cost to a process, but it also contributes to quality issues and slows productivity. There are numerous solutions available, from document scanning to electronic forms that will reduce the need for paper while also making your business more efficient.

Your business is your livelihood and it must thrive in order for you to prosper. Many distractions can keep you from devoting serious effort to managing costs and increasing profits, but without cost control, all of your effort could be for naught. Set aside time in your day as part of your plan to keep your business on track.

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