6 Simple Ways to Streamline Your Financial Workflows: A Guide for Small Businesses

Good financial management is essential if you’re running a small company. In most cases, margins are tight and cash reserves are limited. What’s more, SMBs don’t have the same kind of financial buffer that large enterprises enjoy. Minor inefficiencies and losses, although insignificant on the surface, can quickly grow into big problems. 

The prospect of setting up an efficient workflow might seem daunting. But it needn’t be. Small business owners and managers now have access to an array of time-saving, easy-to-use tools that take care of most everyday tasks. They will also provide a full overview of your financial situation and allow you to track your business’ performance and drive further efficiencies moving forward. Before anything else, you may want to start reading up on the importance of credit card readers too.

All of this means that you’ll have more time and resources to focus on the important priorities of serving your customers and growing your business. Let’s dive in. 

1. Take Care of the Basics: Use Modern Accounting Software

First things first. If you’re still using a legacy system, spreadsheet, or (even worse) a pen-and-ink logbook, now is the time to update to modern, cloud-based accounting software. Dedicated small business accounting apps have broad feature-sets which enable you to input transactions and sales, create and send invoices, track financial performance, generate reports, manage employee payroll, and more, in a fraction of the time it would usually take. 

Even better, most well-known brands offer comprehensive onboarding materials and training (which may even include one-on-one time), so learning how to use a new platform won’t be an issue. Because browser-based software is installed, updated, and run in the cloud, as opposed to on your own servers, you won’t have to worry about any technical or maintenance tasks.

2. Sync Your Apps With an Automation Tool

Manual data entry can easily take up multiple hours of employee time every week. And this time represents a wasted resource that could be allocated to more important priorities. 

There is, however, a straightforward solution: integration and automation. By integrating your accounting software with other parts of your tech stack, such as your customer relationship management solution (CRM) and banking app, you can ensure the fast and error-free transfer of data between platforms, with very little or no direct input from you. 

Most apps have their own library of native integrations. For those that don’t, you can always leverage an “intermediary tool” like Zapier or IFTTT (If This Then That)

3. Use a Point of Sale System (POS) to Accept Card Payments 

If you’re not already accepting card payments, you’re likely cutting yourself off from potential and repeat customers, irrespective of whether you run a product or service-based business. Clients that are able to pick from a variety of payment options are more likely to return in the future. And by accepting card payments for items, you won’t have to turn away customers that don’t carry cash. 

Many small business owners and managers worry that installing a point-of-sale system, with barcode scanners, digital registers, payment terminals, and so on, will be a prohibitively complex and expensive process. But this is far from the case. Most modern POS systems aimed at small businesses are inexpensive (even when accounting for hardware) and come with extensive onboarding packages. Most will also integrate with your website so you can sync online and offline sales. 

4. Integrate Payment Buttons Into Business Documents

Consider the document approval process from the perspective of a typical client. After receiving a quote, proposal, or contract, the recipient has to print the document, hand-sign it, scan it back onto the computer, and manually process any corresponding payments. And even if they have their own electronic signature tool, they still have to log into their online banking dashboard to send money. 

Adding electronic signature fields and payment buttons to important documents will significantly cut down on the effort required from clients to process business documents, leading to higher conversion rates, faster payments, and happier customers. Contract management solutions provide access to all the features business owners need to streamline their document workflows and integrate with their preferred online payment processor.

5. Track Employee Expenditure

Managing employee expenses can be a chore. Often, a complete picture of employee spending isn’t available until the end of the month, when all receipts are reviewed. And employees can become dissatisfied when they’re not quickly reimbursed for business expenses. 

Expense tracking apps like Expensify and Rydoo solve these problems. They provide business owners with a real-time overview of the ways in which employees are spending money and ensure that receipts are saved online at the point of sale. Automated notifications for high-ticket expenses also make the approval process much smoother. 

Conclusion

Financial management is one of those areas where it’s possible to drive significant improvements for minimal cost. All of the software suggestions in this article are inexpensive and easy to use (for both you and your team). Most apps nowadays are offered as monthly subscriptions, so you don’t have to cough up hefty fees before you can get started. 

Spend some time researching the various options available and commit to building an integrated, automated technology infrastructure to power your small company’s financial tasks. You’ll save time and resources while also limiting the potential for costly errors and employee oversights. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.