When was the last time you made a real investment in your business?
We’re not talking about buying stationery or upgrading your office chair. We mean substantial, game-changing investments that increase operational efficiencies and help you break free from outdated processes and thinking.
Perhaps you’ve been waiting for inspiration. In that case, you’ve come to the right place. These six small business investments have the potential to pay big dividends — if you let them.
1. A Flexible Payroll Solution
How much time do you spend running payroll each month?
Calculating and paying monthly payroll taxes?
Filing quarterly and year-end payroll tax returns?
If you still manage your payroll process by hand, your answer to each of these questions will be the same: “Too much time.”
Much too much time, to be precise. Because there’s a much better way to do things: Use an automated payroll software for small businesses.
Your flexible, all-digital payroll solution won’t be entirely hands-off. You’ll still need to check your payroll runs for accuracy, add and remove employees as roles change and people leave, and keep your tax information current, among other tasks.
But the job will be a far cry from what it is now. And you’ll have that much more time to focus on more productive, profitable business activities.
2. A Project Management Suite That Lets You Collaborate From Anywhere
Does your enterprise operate out of a single business location?
If you and your business enterprise are one and the same, that might be the case. You probably work out of a home office or have a single-desk coworking membership. Maybe you switch things up and work out of your favorite coffee shop from time to time.
If you have employees or contractors, the story may be different. In the golden age of remote work, it’s increasingly uncommon for every employee or contractor of a multi-person organization to work out of the same location.
This dispersed workforce model has a lot of advantages. But it’s not great for keeping everyone focused on the same tasks at the same time.
That’s where project management software comes in. If you’re still relying on a hodgepodge of emails and shared folders to manage complex jobs, you’re losing your edge. You need a flexible, scalable solution that lets you and your team collaborate in real-time, no matter where everyone’s sitting.
3. A Workplace Chat Tool That Lives Apart From Your Email
Some project management software suites have built-in chat tools. If you like yours fine, then there’s no reason to kick it to the curb.
One thing you don’t want to do is rely on your email suite’s chat solution (like Google Hangouts). Email-based chat is fine for personal use, but it lacks the sophisticated capabilities of dedicated workplace chat platforms like Slack.
Choose a solution that’s readily searchable, has high file size limits for sharing, allows inter-company interaction, and uses sub-company hierarchies to organize conversations and permissions (like Slack’s channels and guest/member/admin roles).
Maybe most important of all, choose a solution that can scale with your business. A big drawback of email-based chat is its inherent size limitations.
4. A Scalable Coworking Membership That Isn’t Tied Down by Geography
As your organization grows and adds employees or core contractors far beyond its home base, you’ll need to make an investment in their productivity: a scalable coworking membership that isn’t tied down by geography.
Practically speaking, this means a coworking membership with a national brand like WeWork or Industrious. You want locations in the cities you currently operate in (or have remote employees in, more likely) and any you plan to expand into in the near future.
A word of warning: Don’t try to make this investment something it’s not. You don’t want to force remote employees to work out of a shared office if they’re more comfortable or productive working from home or the corner coffee shop. You do want to give them the option and ensure they have access to business-quality resources, like meeting rooms, when they need them.
5. An Asynchronous Video Communication Tool
On a scale of one to ten, how inconvenient is your company’s meeting schedule?
Be honest. It’s pretty bad, right? You go through several rounds of back-and-forth just to schedule your face-to-faces. Then someone drops out at the last minute and you need to take their input after the fact anyway. And who knows who’s paying attention by five minutes in.
It’s a mess. And it’s 90% preventable with asynchronous video communication tools that let people say their piece when it’s convenient for them and increase the chances that any given attendee will actually absorb what they say. (You can hold them accountable on this point by checking who’s actually viewed your videos.)
What about the other 10%? Well, live meetings still have their place. But your team will love you if you’re able to eliminate nine out of ten.
6. “To Do” Software (Or a More Comprehensive Task Management Solution)
Admit it. Your “to do” list is more of a “rough suggestion” list, to be taken or left as circumstances allow.
You can bet the less task-oriented members of your team are in the same boat.
What’s to be done about it? Well, a digital task list is a start. Tying solo tasks to specific times and dates on the calendar (as opposed to multi-person meetings, which are harder to push off) is a surprisingly effective motivator.
It’s probably not enough on its own. For more involved tasks that can’t be done in a single sitting, a more comprehensive task management software solution might be in the offing.
It’s your call. Either way, you won’t regret investing in your team’s capacity to get stuff done.
It’s Never Too Late to Invest in Your Small Business
These six small business investments have paid off for countless companies before you. If you’re worried about the ROI on a streamlined new payroll solution or a project management suite that knits together a multipolar team, ask a few of your fellow business owners and you’ll soon change your tune.
So, why put them off any longer? As with any investment, the sooner you jump in, the sooner you’ll start seeing those dividends.