Productivity

Top tips for multitasking like a pro

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Industry leaders share tips on productive moves as we head to the end of the financial year.

Managing a business can be a constant exercise in multitasking. You may find that you're a manager one day, then a marketer and social media expert the next. To help you manage all the facets of a growing business, we spoke to industry experts about great ways to help you keep on top of marketing, small business and apps. 

A man looking at a blackboard with post it notes in columns

 

Legal

1.Manage your contacts

Many businesses have contracts expiring at the end of a financial year. Maintain a register of these and prepare for your annual contract reviews and renewals before they expire. Remember, don’t take contracts lightly. Have your lawyer review contracts to ensure you understand what you are signing and that your best interests are protected.

2. Take time to review your business

Many lawyers and accountants send newsletters or email alerts in the lead-up to the end of the financial year. Identify who your trusted advisers are and take the time to read what they’re sending you. There may just be a trigger which will have a taxation benefit for you.

3. Communicate and collaborate

An approaching year-end is a very busy time, but you are not alone. Speak to your lawyer or accountant and your key customers and, more importantly, speak to your employees. What you glean from these discussions can be invaluable to your own business.

4. Plan for the future

Even if you don’t budget formally, begin to formulate some goals in your mind about what you hope to achieve in the next financial year. Stretch your thinking beyond next year and begin to think about your own succession strategy. The goals should be a mix of personal, family and financial objectives. Being bogged down by strategies is probably not why you went into business in the first place, so maintain perspective. Identify what is important and what is not. Sometimes, success in setting a strategy lies in deciding what not to do. Keep it simple, document it, communicate as necessary, assign responsibilities and regularly review your progress. Invest in a key external trusted adviser relationship to help with focus – and empathy.

Marketing

1. Look at your marketing spend

For most of us, June 30 means wrapping up accounts, calculating what you owe the taxman, and budgeting for the year to come. However, the lead-up to June 30 isn’t just about accounting; it’s also an opportunity to examine how much you spent on social media and online/offline advertising, technology investments, networking events, customer experience and staff training.

2. Do your research and analysis

List all the marketing you’ve done since last July, including specific email campaigns, magazine and online ads, and events you either sponsored or attended. Make a note of the content you produced and where you published it, then assess what worked. Did you get more sales, enquiries and referrals, or increased social media and website traffic? And which strategies didn’t work, and why?

3. Has your business changed?

Take time in the second half of the financial year to note the business developments you’ve made. Have your objectives changed? And have your processes and systems altered? What is your marketing team’s role in contributing to an effective growing business?

4. Have your customers changed?

Just as your business changes, so will your ideal customers. Most of us have a general idea of the audience we should target. Are your customers well profiled and defined by value? Consider who your most profitable customers are and develop strategies to build relationships with them.

Small Business

1. Innovate to grow your business

CPA Australia’s annual Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey of nearly 3,000 small businesses shows that those focusing on innovation, e-commerce, exporting and marketing are significantly more likely to be growing and creating jobs than other small businesses. There isn’t a “silver bullet” when it comes to innovation – the businesses that were growing were innovating in a variety of ways including the introduction of new products, services and process improvement. Look at what other businesses are doing for ideas.

2. Invest in ecommerce

The survey showed that businesses investing in e-commerce are more likely to be growing – 41 per cent who forecast that they will grow in 2016 expect to grow their e-commerce presence to a large extent, compared with 12 per cent of those that do not believe they will grow. Businesses selling online are also more likely to be growing – 79 per cent of respondents that grew in 2015 earned their revenue from online sales compared with 46 per cent of those that did not grow. Think about your e-commerce presence – is your business where it should be?

3. Focus on business management 

Businesses focusing on improving business management are more likely to be growing – 32 per cent of businesses that grew in 2015 found that improved business management had a major positive impact on their business. You could speak to a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) about ways to improve how you manage your business.

4. Review your marketing strategy

Another major finding from our survey centred on the need to constantly review your approach to marketing, including using social media for getting your message out. An impressive 90 per cent of surveyed businesses that grew in 2015 said they used social media compared with 63 per cent of those that did not grow. How much do you plan to invest in marketing and social media in the coming financial year? Maybe it’s time for a review.

App Technology

1. Minimise clutter

In the lead-up to the end of the financial year, it can be easy to get caught up on targets and deadlines, and lose sight of the long game. Mobile apps can help improve planning and performance to keep your business on track during this busy period, perhaps in some unexpected ways. For example, when we’re busy, it can be hard to stay organised and, before we know it, stacks of paperwork are forming on our desks among used coffee cups and yesterday’s lunch. But during these busy times, it’s perhaps more important than ever that we reduce clutter and operate in a clean and structured environment. Try out an app like Canvas instead of using paper forms, as it can help you minimise clutter, and save resources, time and money by replacing paper forms with customised digital versions.

2. Motivate staff

Don’t forget that if you’re overwhelmed, your staff probably are too. Maintaining their motivation and keeping up training is important all year round, not just in quieter times. The Zunos app can help you enhance the performance of your mobile sales or service teams. It lets you communicate with, inform, train, motivate and monitor your staff in near real time – and you can inspire them to improve sales and customer satisfaction.

3. Save time

It’s not news to anyone that time management is essential to keep your business running smoothly and efficiently. But sometimes we all need a little help with this. Whether it’s prioritising the team’s workload or improving the efficiency of our own communication, there’s surely something we could all be doing to help our teams make the most of their time. Apps such as Time Tracker can help save time on scheduling staff and timesheets, improve staff communication and assist you to run your business more efficiently. The Deputy app can help you to better manage your employees’ time to improve productivity and billing. 

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