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5 essential tips to keep your business running smoothly

We’ve put together some simple tips to help you run your business smoothly – from managing your business admin to planning your marketing activity. Even if you’re busy, finding a few hours a month to do these simple tasks will ultimately save you time and improve your work-life balance. 

Get that inbox cleaned out

One-two hours

Go on admit it, your inbox frequently fills up with non-essential mail and starred items you can’t remember why you started? Yep, mine too. It’s time for a monthly clear out. All it takes is discipline and a bit of time.

Go through your inbox and

  • unsubscribe from and delete any junk mail
  • file all client email into folders
  • reply to anyone outstanding, then file into folders if necessary
  • only allow pending emails to remain in your inbox

Be aware of email time suck whilst attempting to reach inbox zero. It’s like when you clean out the loft and get stuck in your mementos box, cooing over old photos and reminiscing. Before you know it three hours has passed and you’re no more organised than you were before you started. In fact, it’s worse. Don’t let your inbox trap you with the same temptation.

Set a timer if you know this will be an issue for you.

Do your bookkeeping

Two-three hours

Even if you have an accountant who prepares and files your tax return, it’s still good to keep on top of your monthly bookkeeping tasks. This way, when you do handover, you’ll know everything is there, and in reasonable order.

This can include:

  • organising the mountain of receipts and expenses into chronological order
  • logging each expenditure on a spreadsheet (or using online accounting software)
  • printing and filing copies of all paid invoices
  • noting invoice references against payments on bank statements
  • filling in income and expenditure log

Chase and pay your invoices

One hour

Cash flow is one of the most important things to take care of in your business. Yes, sometimes you’re at the mercy of your clients actually paying you on time, but often you don’t help yourself by invoicing late or forgetting to follow up. Do yourself a favour and get those invoices out, chase outstanding payments and be a good business citizen and pay your suppliers whilst you’re at it. (If you believe in business karma, paying others on time helps you get paid on time).

Here’s a handy checklist for this task:

  • raise new invoices and send via email
  • chase any outstanding invoices with a polite but firm email or phone call
  • pay outstanding suppliers.

Gather testimonials and ask for referrals

30 minutes

Word of mouth and referrals are one of the most cost-effective ways to generate new business. It’s also one of the nicest ways to get new clients and doesn’t take much time to nurture either.

First up, you want to reach out to anyone who you’ve worked with this month or who’s project has come to a close and ask them for a testimonial. These should be uploaded to your website as soon as you receive them (or there’s a danger they’ll be left to linger in your inbox for all eternity).

Whilst you’re at it, ask them if they know anyone who’d benefit from working with you in a similar capacity they would happily recommend you to.

And, if appropriate (i.e they are also a business and you trust in them and their services), ask what kinds of clients they’re looking for right now and see if you can refer business their way too.

Plan next month’s marketing and editorial calendar

One-two hours

The last task on the list is to plan the following month’s marketing campaigns and editorial calendar for your blog, email newsletter and social media. (If you don’t have one, here are some marketing tips for getting started)

At his point you don’t need to create any content or undertake any specific tasks, planning just ensures that week by week you’re not twiddling thumbs trying to think about what content to create and share online.

You could plan social media posts, blog topics, email newsletter subject lines, advertising campaigns, and target PR publications. Carve out a day a month for the above tasks. It’s a good end of the week job, Friday afternoon, closely followed by your favourite alcoholic tipple.

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