When it comes to running a business, efficiency is key—no matter what industry you hail from! After all, time is money, so if you’re looking to improve your productivity and improve your bottom line, here’s a few tips to get you started.
Quality Not Quantity
Quality begets quality. And that not only goes for the people you hire, but the products you purchase too! In order to ensure your company’s foundation is firm, first look to your hiring practices. Too often it’s easy to hire rapidly…especially when tax season is ramping up and the stress and work levels are at their highest. Take your time and really make sure the people you take on are not only a culture fit, but are qualified to perform the required job duties.
For example, what are their certifications? Is their role client-facing? What’s their experience level? These are all factors you’ll want to consider and explore before making any final decisions. Getting the right people in the right positions will do wonders for your overall productivity. You’ll want to take a look at your other business expenses aside from payroll, too. Make sure you carefully review the software and products you purchase for your company. Remember, “Buy nice, or buy twice.”
If you run a small, lean team and want to be careful with your budget, you may want to consider outsourcing instead of hiring. As mentioned previously, CPAs often hire during the peak season and this can often result in subpar talent—which may or may not be suitable for the long-term. Outsourcing to an external accounting team for general “housekeeping” tasks can be beneficial for several reasons: it helps reduce business costs (no more shelling out for insurance and other benefits); external account teams are comprised of certified professionals who are not only attuned to industry standards but also have access to the latest tax resources; you can free up valuable time to focus on other business priorities; and lastly, having a dedicated, external team who complements your internal workforce and separates responsibility increases overall efficiency.
While many firms still use Quickbooks, new cloud-based technologies are changing the way accounting firms do business. In fact, it’s completely changing the digital workflow. Now, the entire process—from completing tax forms or documents to e-filing and submitting the finished 1040—can be done in one easily, accessible place. The cloud also allows clients to upload and download documents from their preparer (that’s you!) and send messages through a portal, which also helps clear your inbox of clunky email threads and attachments while speeding things along.
Instead of starting the day by checking your email or flipping through Facebook, consider starting your day off with a bit of quiet time. Use the first 30 minutes of your day to reflect on your goals. If you have a larger project or deadline looming, break it up into smaller pieces—and make sure to delegate where you can. Or, incorporate some focus strategy into your work day. The Pomodoro technique, for example, uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short, 10-15 minutes breaks. Throughout the day, try avoid aimlessly browsing the internet and social media channels—it’s the quickest way to kill productivity.
Tech, tech & more tech!
As technology becomes more and more advanced, businesses have so many options when it comes to offloading tasks that were once done manually. Cloud-based software, as we mentioned, such as Intuit ProConnect Lacerte Tax or Intuit Tax Online, can do a lot of the heavy lifting during tax season, while other communication and project management tools, such as Slack, Trello and Mavenlink can help support the day-to-day workload. And the great thing is that you don’t have to have a huge budget to access a lot of these tools. Many offer introductory rates and free versions (with, albeit, less features). PayPal offers invoicing services, while Skype and Zoom can help connect your remote teams. There are also tons of time-saving apps, such as Paste (currently only available for Apple products), which automatically saves and stores anything you’ve copied to your clipboard… no matter what device you’re on. So, if you find yourself rewriting certain things on a regular basis—whether its email responses or charts—Paste allows you to create custom keyboard shortcuts and pop those in, whenever you need them!
Productivity can plummet at any time of the tax year, but these tips can help keep your workforce strong.