Four tips to boost your business productivity By Darren Upson, Director of Small Business at Xero

Getting your business up and running takes a huge amount of work, and that’s just the beginning. No company comes into this world fully-formed and the process of turning a startup into a viable operation is constant, and depends on the alignment of several key factors – all of which compete for your undivided attention.

Few, however, will be more important than productivity. How your company and its employees work is critical; even more so than their actual role, or how hard they work. According to Xero’s 2017 State of Small Business Report, 68% of small businesses face challenging times through economic volatility. So, getting the most out of your team during these times will pay off hugely.

So how do you maximise your productivity? These four tips will show you how:

Automate your admin

Many businesses diligently and scrupulously carry out their administrative processes. They carve out time to get tasks down and assign qualified, competent staff to conduct them, who then execute them to perfection.

This doesn’t have to be the way administration gets done.

Today, no business should waste time on data entry, invoicing, or reporting. Technology can take the pain away for you, faster and without margin for error. Software can capture client transaction data; apps such as Receipt Bank can easily digitise paper records; cloud accounting software such as Xero can help you keep on top of cash flow with automated notifications; and payroll systems can do income tax calculations on your behalf.

The more time you spend on administration, the less time you have for matters of strategic and operational importance.

Manage time to make time

What do your employees actually do? Are they spending the right amount of time on valuable tasks that contribute to the company’s mission?

These questions seem basic, but they matter more than you might think. You can’t change your productivity levels if you don’t know what they are. Use time tracking software such as Xero Projects, Minutedock, TimeCamp, or Toggle to identify the tasks that drain your resources – and the employees who complete them. You can then re-assign tasks and resources elsewhere in the business.

Make it mobile

Going mobile is a game changer for your business. The earlier you integrate mobile apps into your operations, the more you’ll get from them.

When you can catch up with emails on your morning commute, you don’t have to do it in-office; when you can assign urgent tasks using project management software from a conference, you don’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll get done.

Mobile means that you can be an entrepreneur wherever you are and at any time.

Stop chasing payments

Xero’s research shows that the average small business owner will spend 1.25 days a month chasing up on payments that haven’t been paid. That means 6% of every workday is spent chasing payments.

This is not ideal, not least because the process of chasing payments isn’t appealing, one where the entrepreneur’s attempts to claim what is rightfully theirs is met with, at best, forgetfulness, and at worst, indignance and hostility. Entrepreneurs should be focused on making money, not securing the money that’s already theirs. By using cloud accounting software, such as Xero you can automate the process of sending invoice reminders and give customers easier ways of paying with the “Pay Now” button.

Ultimately, productivity isn’t about the work you do, but the work you don’t have to do. When you have fewer tasks on your plate, you have more time to focus on what matters most to the growth of your business. Over time, this translates to greater profits and faster growth.