Most business owners tell us they’re pretty excited by the idea of living life with more freedom. ‘Be your own boss’ is a powerful mantra for Kiwis.
The irony is that running a small business day-in and day-out can leave you feeling anything but in control.
Family life and outside interests end up taking a back seat, which is bad news for your long-term wellbeing. And even if you do enjoy the non-stop busy-ness, it comes with a price. You can find yourself buried in day-to-day tasks and losing sight of your original goals. When that starts to happen, burnout is a real risk.
In our new e-book, 5 Tips For Making Your Business Work For You, we tackled the issues that keep New Zealand business owners from achieving the lifestyle they want. The last of these tips is, ‘Be strategic with technology.’
In some ways it’s the most important tip of all, because it’s the key to freeing up your time and energy to do the really important stuff.
Technology in this case simply means automation.
By streamlining office processes and making the most of user-friendly apps, you can save precious hours every week. That’s time you can devote to more productive things, like developing new customer relationships. Or you can simply clock out earlier and go fishing
So without further ado, here are four tech hacks any business owner can implement:
1. Automate your invoice chasing.
With just over half of all New Zealand business cash flow positive in any given month, and the average invoice being paid eight days late, there's potentially a lot of cash missing from your bank account. Following up manually is a significant admin overhead, so consider an alternative – automated invoice reminders.
Using Xero, you simply decide when and how often reminders will be sent out. You can also see whether your customer has seen an invoice and if it’s been paid. Save even more time by reducing repetitive manual data entry, using pre-set inventory items, replicating previous invoices and setting up repeating invoices.
It’s well worth it, because research shows that overdue invoices with reminders get paid an average of four days sooner than those without.
2. Make it easier for people to pay you.
Add a payment service to your online invoice and, based on research, you will get paid 35% faster, which works out to about nine days sooner.
Online payment is simple to set up, with user-friendly solutions designed for small businesses. Services like Stripe and Paypal allow you to accept credit and debit card payments for online invoices sent from Xero, and GoCardless, which is an online direct debit solution.
When money flows into your account every month without endless checking and following up late payers, you will feel a huge weight lifted from your shoulders.
3. Kill the bill paperwork.
It’s important to stay on top of bills and expenses, but that shouldn’t mean committing hours to tedious data entry every week. Once again, software comes to the rescue.
We’ve seen great results with solutions that automatically turn bills into payables and expenses. With apps such as Receiptbank or Hubdoc, the software extracts key information from receipts and invoices, including supplier, data and amount. All you have to do is review it and enter it into your system with one click.
4. Say goodbye to payroll dramas.
Calculating the constantly fluctuating permutations of wages, holiday allowances, Kiwisaver and tax can drive a level-headed business owner to despair. Add the ongoing barrage of government rule changes, including the recent introduction of payday filing, and it’s enough to make you want to never employ staff.
Technology can be your friend here. Modern payroll software helps small business owners stay compliant and reduces the stress of making sure everyone’s been paid correctly. Platforms like Xero Payroll and SmartPayroll seamlessly integrate with the Xero accounting platform, allowing you to easily keep track of taxes and staff payments. They operate online so you never have to worry about software updates and regulatory changes – the software company handles all that.
You don’t even have to be a tech head.
Some business owners enjoy figuring out how to automate their processes and integrate technology. If that’s you, don’t worry – you can stick to your knitting. But maybe have a word with a smart business advisor, and do a bit of reading about what might help you get your life back. Or you could start with our free e-book '5 Tips for making your business work for you' which contains solutions to the most common business problems, and ideas to turn your operation into a lean, mean profit machine.