1. Serve it up.
A server can act as a digital filing cabinet for your growing piles of documentation. Compared to daisy chaining several PCs, “Servers give you a lot more reliability and improve your business,” says Mike Beltrano
2. Phone it in
Are you wasting time running between voice mail on your cell and office phones? VoIP systems offer a great deal of personalization and features for a rock-bottom price. In fact, VoIP can be up to 40 percent cheaper than a traditional small-office phone system, and it offers useful features for any small business.
3. Take it online
If you’ve taken the leap of setting up an accounting package to handle your bills, take the extra step of automating the process. See if your accounting software can automatically generate invoices as well as e-mail reminders for late payments.
4. Hit the web
Your website is a potential client’s main access point to your business. Don’t worry as much about fancy graphics as making sure visitors can get the information they need.
5. Bank on it
“One of the assets business owners have is their cash,” says Manny Calzon. But many entrepreneurs don’t understand how much they’re paying in service charges to their banks every month.
6. File taxes electronically
Companies with $10 million or more in total assets that file 250 or more returns a year are now required to file their 2006 taxes electronically. “Small businesses are going to be scrambling,” says Bradford Hall, managing director of Hall & Company CPAs in Irvine, California.
7. Pay now, not later
Can you pay smaller bills in advance? If you have a monthly bill for $15 but opt to pay $90 for six months of service, you’ll save $1.95 in stamps and you won’t incur late fees.
8. Upgrade your accounting systems.
“A business that’s projecting $10 million-plus [in sales] should be on a sophisticated system,” Hall says. Software packages such as BusinessWorks, Enterprise, Great Plains (which was recently acquired by Microsoft) and MAS 90 offer increased sophistication for a growing company
9. Make your (bench) mark
It’s common for growing companies to do business without understanding how they stack up against similar companies in their industry.
10. Obey the urge to merge
You might pay slightly more, but renewing all your insurance policies on the same date with the same agent lets you sit down once a year to review insurance for the entire business instead of having different renewals pop up three or four times a year.
11. Hire strategically
Create an online application form, and have elimination criteria related to scheduling, salary and educational level. “Select out vs. select in,” says Suzanne Zuniga, COO of CorVirtus
12. Stay on schedule
Creating a schedule for employees is a time-consuming nightmare for every employer, especially in retail.
13. Rent a CFO
At some point, a bookkeeper won’t be able to keep up with your burgeoning bottom line. “One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is they don’t realize they need the sophistication of a CFO,” Hall says.
14. Tighten your supply chain
“Strong partnerships with suppliers and service providers [are] critical in the supply-chain excellence area,” says John DuBiel.
15. Outsource your HR function
Entrepreneurs spend up to one-third of their time doing payroll and benefits administration. They’re also risking penalties if tax payment deadlines aren’t met or filings are incorrect.
16. Have fewer staff meetings
Do you really need a staff meeting every week when an e-mail update might do? Fewer staff meetings mean less talk and more action.
17. Do some data mining
What do customers think about your company? “You don’t build your brand by yourself anymore; your customers are equally involved,” says Michael LeBeau, CEO of Byte Interactive.
18. Leverage partnerships
Strategic partnerships with local businesses will help you rise above the noise. Picking the right partner, however, can be very time-consuming. Simplify the process by looking to your own customers, vendors and suppliers first.
By: Chris Penttil