COVID-19 How you can get your business through it

How to help get your business through the COVID-19 Pandemic


protecting your business

There has been a lot of panic recently about the COVID-19 virus and its effects not only on ourselves and our family but on our businesses as well. The economy seems to be in a state of stress and if we are all made to shut down due to the rapid spread of this virus, what can we do to protect our businesses? I believe with some careful planning we can all get through this.

By doing a Business Continuity plan you can plan for and put systems in place to help get your business through and shut down period. Here are some questions that I think you need to consider.

Business Continuity plan

  1. Is there a way or you to still function on a skeleton staff or remotely?

In your business, can you continue to operate if everything is shut down? Are you able to operate with only a skeleton staff of key personnel? For example, if you are a restaurant or café, can you continue to operate with customers only being able to do takeaway orders? If you are service-based, can you move face to face meetings to video or phone conferencing?

2. what resources do you need to function?

These are the types of things to keep your business going for example if you are a restaurant, these could be deliveries of stock, minimal staff eg cook and waiter/front counter staff. If you are a service-based business like an accountant, it would be a laptop, internet connection, phone – home office.

3. what is the time frame your business has before things become critical?

At what point will things become critical to your business – how many days, weeks months before your business goes into the ‘red’ as you are unable to pay staff, suppliers etc.

4. How many staff are required to get you through?

Think about what the minimum staff requirement for your business to function would be. If you are a restaurant, for example, you may be able to cope with just a cook and one wait/front counter staff. If you are an accountant (or any other service-based business), it may be an admin or accounts staff to pay wages and bills to suppliers. Can you put all unnecessary staff on leave?

5. What software/apps are required for your business to function?

Think about the software and apps you use in your business. What are the critical ones you need to function? Is it an accounting software, project management software, office programs, etc. Can these be used off-site in a remote office if need be? Are there any other programs or apps that could be useful to you and your staff – like messaging apps, project management apps, etc. like Slack and Asana. You can even download apps to scan documents to email if you do not have a scanner at home.

6. Are there safety practices that you can introduce to continue operating?

These can be more stringent hand washing between each client you see.• Having hand sanitizer available for your clients/customers to use,
• limit the size of functions etc.
• Ask all clients/customers who have not been well or have been overseas to reschedule their appointments

7. Can you change face to face meetings to video or phone meetings?

We live in an amazing world of technology, and at times like this, we can fully embrace this technology to continue with our business practices. There are many apps/programs that you can use for video conferencing like Skype, zoom, and hangouts. Moving your meetings online can be really useful for businesses, including personal training, counseling, accounting businesses. It is time to get creative and think out of the box.

Now that you have all of this information, – you can start to action your plan by putting systems in place to help your business to continue function – even if it is at a much slower rate.

Other Useful links

Department of Health

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert?utm_source=health.gov.au&utm_medium=redirect&utm_campaign=digital_transformation&utm_content=health-topics%2Fnovel-coronavirus-2019-ncov&fbclid=IwAR0HwaxXu0RNNfsDQtAKQ-Tq2muguAL7Wuybci5Kc_mDDOoE6AzgEPoirnY

Government corona virus stimulus package for small businesses

The government released a stimulus package to help keep small businesses afloat and employees in work. This includes cash flow payments, wage subsidy, increase in instant asset write-off and 50% accelerated depreciation for investments. You can find more information on
https://www.smallbusiness.wa.gov.au/blog/coronavirus-stimulus-package-small-business

NSW Small Business Commissioner

https://www.smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au/get-help/covid-19-coronavirus-information-small-business-owners

Bank Emergency Coronavirus packages

Another useful link for those that are reliant on bank loans, the big 4 banks have coronavirus relief packages. You can get more information about this on the below link.

https://mozo.com.au/home-loans/articles/guide-to-australian-banks-emergency-coronavirus-relief-packages?fbclid=IwAR0CsNUBRBb7gpi2P-BSX0b3usrx4K6DSsa6VVR-BCXRwH89Ba6vqvqxBzk

If we all stay calm and take precautions, we will make it through this troubling time.  Stay safe everyone, and stay positive!

 

Please note I have not received any endorsement or been paid by any of the apps or platforms that I have mentioned here in this article.

Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

Organising File Systems

How to Organise File Systems

I love organising, especially file systems, and have re-organised file systems at every job I have had.  I have even been known to take whole shelves of books and refile them alphabetically the right way at my children’s primary school – needless to say, the librarians loved me for it.

Organising file systems can sometimes seem so complicated and overwhelming.  How do you file something? Where do you file it? What do I file it under? It really can seem all too hard – but it really isn’t.

So, how do you set up/organise a filing system? First of all, you need to develop a system that is right for your business. There is no single correct way to do this. Each business is different, and therefore the filing system categories/topics they use may vary to other businesses. some file alphabetically, some by month, it all depends on what is right for your business.

Are you starting a filing system from scratch, or just reorganising a system that is not working for you? Maybe you are just needing to maintain the system that you already have. In today’s society, we are slowly moving away from ‘paper files’ but we still need to have them. In this article I will share with you ways to do both hard copy paper filing and electronic filing.

PAPER/HARD COPY FILES

What do you need?

You need to consider how much space you have in your office to work with.  Will you be filing in a file cabinet or on a shelf? If filing on a shelf, you will need a cupboard to store your files, as well as folders to store your paperwork in.  If you are using a filing cabinet, you will need a filing cabinet to a size that suits you, manila files and hanging suspension files to put your manila files in.

These are some ways that I use that can help you with organising and maintaining your file system.

Creating a new filing system

  • Use subject categories. Think about what you need to file, do these items fall into categories/topics? These topics can be administration, accounting, clients etc. Set up a file for each category or topic. This file could be either a lever-arch folder on a shelf, or a manila folder in a file cabinet. Each business will likely have different categories or topics, but essentially, the file systems will be similar.

  • Use subject sub headings

    Do any of the major categories, have sub categories? For instance, if you are filing accounting paperwork, does this paperwork fall into accounts payable or receivable? Does it also relate to a specific supplier or client?

Creating an Accounting file with the category/topic of Accounts Payable, then a sub category of the supplier, may work for you. You may also file accounts payable in monthly files rather than supplier. If you were creating a file on your clients, for example, you would create a ‘client’ file with individual files for each of your clients within that file or filing cabinet.

  • Colour code your system.

    This is an easy and effective way to organise your files and can be done by using coloured files. Think about what sort of files you have – maybe you could have all client files one colour, and accounting files another. If you don’t have coloured files, you could use a coloured sticker on the top of the file next to the file name. This makes the files easy to identify.  I have used this system in previous jobs and it really does make it easier.

  • Label all files.

    Each file needs to be clearly labelled and belong in a particular place in your office. When labelling your files, put your label along the top of your file (if using a manila file), or on the spine of the lever-arch folder you are using.  If you are using a label maker or computer to print your labels, make sure you are consistent and use the same font and style. If you are writing by hand, write neatly and clearly – this will make your files easier to recognise and find.

  • Sort files alphabetically.

    It sounds obvious but filing alphabetically is the most effective way to file documents. When files are stored alphabetically, they are more organised, and you can generally find them quicker. Each file that is stored alphabetically then may have sub categories/topics within that file. Always ensure you file your individual piece of paper/document in the relevant sub categories/topic within the file it belongs in.

  • Ensure you have enough space.

    Paper/hard copy files grow quite quickly due to the amount of paperwork we need to store. When setting up your filing system, always ensure you have plenty of space. This might mean a separate file cabinet or cupboard for Client files, another for Accounting. Do what works for your business and the space you have available. Be mindful though that files here in Australia need to be kept for certain periods of time; most are 5-7 years for standard financial records. You therefore might need to go through your files yearly and ‘exit’ or ‘archive’ files that are not in use anymore and store them away for the required length of time. This is called archiving:

  • Financial documents need to be kept for up to 7 years
  • Client files need to be kept for up to 7 years
  • Files that a not financial or client based may only need to be kept for around 2 years

*please check with your regulatory body to see how long you need to keep your files.

How to maintain your filing system

  • Use a ‘file tray’. When you have actioned or finished with paperwork and you don’t have time to file it away immediately, place it in one central location. This will ensure that the paperwork is not lost and kept ready for you to place into the relevant file.

  • Set aside some time each day/week for you to file. If you schedule or plan to file at a certain time each day or week, this will become routine for you and you will more likely to do it regularly. This may be as simple as scheduling 30 mins each day during the ‘quiet’ time in the office, for example, after lunch or the last hour of the day. You can then focus on what you need to do and quickly do it. The more you stick to this schedule, the more consistent you will become, and you will find that you don’t have lots to file each day.

  • Make sure that others understand the file system. This was my biggest pet peeve when working in an office with lots of staff that shared the filing system. I would spend hours sorting and reorganising client files for ease of reference, and there was always one person who would just open a file draw and shove a file back in anywhere it would fit – this led to files being lost and caused lots of unnecessary stress. When you have set your file system up, go over how and why things are filed at a staff meeting to ensure all staff members understand and comply.

  • Have lockable file cabinets. All documents related to your business may have confidential information on them; this information could be client details, bank details etc. It is important to make sure that all your filing systems are lockable and are locked every day at business end.

  • Regularly review/archive your files. At least once a year, go through your files and remove all files that are no longer current. These files should still be kept but moved out of the main ‘everyday’ filing system to allow space for new and current files. All non-current files need to be stored in boxes that are clearly labelled and easy to access if you need them again, either in a storage room onsite, or off site. For example, you may have a client come back after a few years. You can then pull back their old file and have access to the work you did for them previously.

ELECTRONIC FILES

  • Create folders. Organising a system to file electronically is essentially the same as paper files, only you set it up on your laptop/computer. Think about what folders/categories you need and then create these folders on your laptop. Just like paper files, these categories will sometimes have sub categories relevant to the business you have.

Ensure you create your folders in the ‘file explorer’ or ‘file manager’ section of your laptop and save all relevant documents in their appropriate folder. Try not to get into the habit of saving everything to the desktop. This can look quite messy and unorganised and make things hard to find.

  • Password protect all laptops/computers. Just like normal hard copy filing cabinets need to be locked, all computers (and sometimes individual folders) need to be password protected and have the relevant virus protection. This has recently become a huge issue in the media, as some larger organisations have had their computer systems hacked. Another important thing to do is to make sure all staff log off and shut down their computer at the end of each day.

  • Regularly archive your files. As with hard copy files, you should go through your files and remove all files that are no longer current at least once a year. These files can be moved into a separate ‘archive’ folder on your device or on a separate portable hard drive. Once again, these files should be easily accessible if needed.

  • Back up your computer system. Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong with computer systems. Therefore, backing up your system every night or at least once per week at the minimum is required. If something does go wrong, you may have only lost one day’s work, not everything that has been done electronically by your business.

If you need assistance with setting up your filing system, or just need some advice on how you should do it, please contact me for more information at rachel@secretarialonline.com.au

Please note that this blog post is the property of Secretarial Online, and cannot be used without the authority of Secretarial Online.

 

5 Top Tips to help your small business

5 Top Tips to help your small business

 

With taking the brave steps to be my own boss earlier this year, I am relatively new to running a business. To say it is easy, is really stretching the truth – its damn hard work.  I have faced lots of challenges over the past few months and I wouldn’t say it has gotten easier, I have just gotten a little bit better at dealing with it.

But through hard work and determination, I am edging closer each day to my goal of running a successful business.

These are 5 things that I have had to learn the hard way, hopefully by sharing with you all, they will help you to be successful in your small business.

My top 5 business tips are:

  • Have your contact details easy to find.  How can you obtain new business if your prospective clients cannot find you? Whether it be on your website, or social media platforms like facebook and Linked in, make sure that your phone number, website and email are easy to see.  If a prospective client easily finds your details, they will be more inclined to reach out to you.

 

  • Include an “About Me” section on your website and social media. A photo and a story about you will help prospective clients to understand who you are. this will  make them see you as a real person, not just someone unknown behind a screen. Having a photo and info about you helps to build a connection, even trust… clients know you are real and feel better about contacting you.

 

  • Network – put your self out there! Tell everyone and anyone all about your new business. Join local small business groups in your area where you can meet face to face with other like mined individuals. This is where you can share knowledge and advice. And yes it is ok to network with your competitors! Fostering these relationships can benefit you both, especially when you or they have a deadline and need assistance.  Online social media groups are great too – you can get a lot of support from online groups and forums.

 

  • Be organised. Set aside time each week to assess your job load. Schedule time to do accounts, social media posts, website updates, make sales calls etc. If you plan your week, you are more likely to meet every deadline without running around in a mad panic.  Its hard when there is so much to do, but when you break it down and schedule some time to do these each week, things will run much smoothly.

 

  •  Set Boundaries – I don’t know about you, but I have found myself checking emails whilst in bed late at night, or even on weekends, scared I might miss something. Well its ok not to check those emails outside your normal business hours, so when your in bed at 10pm and your phone buzzes, leave it – the email will be there in the morning. You don’t work 24/7 so when your business is closed, switch off – enjoy the down time with your family.

With these 5 small pieces of advice, your business will hopefully run smoother, be more productive and your client base will grow.  And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day – it will happen with hard work, determination and a great attitude.

Stay tuned for an updates on how my business in is travelling.

Rachel, Secretarial Online.

Virtual Assistant – Why do I need one?

Are you struggling to keep up with your office admin?

At some stage, all businesses get to the point where they feel that they are “treading water” to stay afloat.  We ignore it, go into denial mode or even try to blame others –  we bury our heads in the sand.

We don’t want to think about why this has happened, maybe we are afraid to look deeper into the causes and make the changes necessary to make your business better.But sooner or later, we come to the realisation that we need to be responsible and accountable of our business and, despite the discomfort, know we need help.

Outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant (VA) can help take that pressure off and motivate you to get back in control of your business. You only pay for the hours that you use your VA- this could be as little as a few hours per week, what ever works best for your business needs.

VAs do many roles from reception and administration, through to media/marketing, accounts and much more.With some of these tasks delegated to your VA, you will then freed up to concentrate on growing your business through areas like marketing, sales, meetings etc.

VAs independent contractors, that have many years of experience, skills and knowledge – a valuable resource. Not all VA’s are off shore, there are many in here in Australia, like Secretarial Online, who not only understand the Australian language, but know how to relate to the Australian people.

Secretarial Online is proud to be an your local Penrith Virtual Assistant that provides administration support to businesses that need assistance in outsourcing their admin tasks.

If you need assistance with your admin, Secretarial Online can help.  Email me today on rachel@secretarialonline.com.au to organise a free initial consultation.

Rachel – Secretarial Online

Virtual Assistant – What Can they do for me?

Many businesses struggle with day to day admin tasks.  They get snowed down doing everyday tasks like answering phones, booking  appointments, attending to emails, typing quotes etc, This leaves them little or no time to make calls, managing social media accounts and websites etc . They then don’t have the time to do the important tasks, like generating sales, attending meetings, and grow their business.
But outsourcing to a virtual assistant can help. But how can they help? what can they do for me? Outsourcing these tasks to a VA takes the pressure off and allows you to concentrate on growing your business.

So, what sort of tasks can you delegate to a VA?

There are many tasks that can be delegated to a VA, I guess it just depends on what your business requires.  These tasks include:
  • reception/answering the phone. You can divert your phone to the VA and have them answer the phone for you, and email messages to you. This is especially useful when you are attending meetings, traveling or working offsite.

 

  • General Typing, document creation and formatting. A VA can type letters, minutes, create spreadsheets, presentations and reports, even do data entry, saving you valuable time.

 

  • Booking appointments/calendar management.  Your VA can schedule appointments and manage your calendar, ensuring that you are organised. This is very helpful to some businesses due to workload and amount of travel that staff may need to do.

 

  • Email Management. Your VA can sort through and manage an email account that receives a large number of emails daily. They can organise the emails into folders and to make it easier for you to follow up.

 

  • Manage Social media accounts. Our social media accounts are something that all businesses need, but managing them takes a lot of time. Whether it is to plan and schedule updates to facebook, linkedin, or instagram, planning, typing and sharing things online to give a great social media presence is time consuming.

 

  • Bookkeeping and accounts. This is the most common outsourced task.  From basic accounts and invoicing to uploading of receipts, reconciling of accounts and payroll.  Bookkeepers are a great asset to small businesses.

 

  • Website creation and management. Just like social media management, websites also take up a lot of time. Some VAs specialise in creating and managing websites.
The benefits of outsourcing to a VA is that they are contractors, and you only pay for the hours a VA works for you,  ie. if you just need assistance for 5 hours per week, you only pay for that 5 hours.  The amount of hours you wish to hire a VA is entirely up to you. Some businesses prefer to hire a VA for a certain amount of hours per week and enter into an agreement for that, others just hire for adhoc projects.
Contact us today to see how Secretarial Online can help you at rachel@secretarialonline.com.au