Small Business Growing Pains: Give Your Key Person a Break

grow_businessBack office and front office operations are often performed by one key individual in small companies. The same person may do sales, customer service, purchasing, and accounting. They probably supervise shipping and water the plants, too! Even though one person or a small team does almost everything, it can help to plan for growth and departmentalize the different functions that they perform. Getting the most out of your QuickBooks accounting software, carefully selecting QuickBooks add-on software, and creative outsourcing can really ease the burden on your key person.

Here are five specific ways small wholesalers can make daily life easier and plan for growth.

Use the Correct QB Transactions

Click the “Home” button in QB and you’ll see the famous order flow diagram. There are several transaction types available and each has a special function. Research these and be sure you are using the correct transaction for your purpose. YouTube is a great place to find free QB training videos on a wide range of topics.

Using the correct transaction for each activity will help keep you organized and allow you to run your business from the reports already in QuickBooks. Sales Orders are best for wholesale orders. They are a reminder to ship something and there are several useful reports that allow you to see your entire customer backlog, manage backorders, and plan your supply chain better. Invoices reduce the QB inventory on the items that were shipped, and they also request money and create receivables. Receiving Payments closes the invoice and the receivable. Sales Receipts are best for shopping cart orders because they recognize revenue and reduce inventory in one stroke.

Use QuickBooks to Manage Inventory

QuickBooks does a great job of managing inventory if you are disciplined in using the correct transactions. When you buy product from your suppliers you should create a Purchase Order. Use the Receive Inventory transaction to close the PO and make inventory increase. Invoices and Sales Receipts both reduce inventory and should be used only when the products actually ship out. Make sure you make inventory adjustments when you send out samples or scrap damage products, and manage your returns with the Refunds and Credits function. Research and understand how these functions work, and you can even test them in QB with a test item and customer.

Add an Online Order Management System

The best way to increase self-service functionality is by using an online order management system that integrates with QuickBooks. An online sales portal lets customers and reps place orders themselves--all without the help of your overworked key team member. Customers and reps can also answer their own customer service questions 24/7 by themselves. Integration makes a system like this easy to set up and use and allows your one-person team to use their talents and time to solve tricky problems and to grow the business instead of doing tasks that software can do.

Outsource Payroll and HR Operations

Payroll and human resources are thankless jobs, so handing certain functions over to a pro can be a big relief to your small staff.  These functions can be complex and highly regulated, and can quickly become overwhelming to someone without specific training and certification. The stakes are high and errors can be very costly. Each state has specific laws and taxes that require a high level of specialization to completely understand. Often, outsourcing is the only practical way to make sure that these critical tasks are done correctly.

Outsource Your Warehouse Operations

Storing and shipping your own products may seem like an efficient way to operate and maintain complete control of your process, but warehousing and shipping are space- and capital-intensive, difficult to scale, and are probably less efficient than you think. Consider contracting a 3PL (third party logistics provider) to do your product fulfillment. A warehouse that is close to your port of entry, or to your customers, or office, and is also a good fit for your product type and volume should be easy to find. Integrating your QuickBooks with their software makes communicating with your 3PL accurate and efficient.

Adding a new staff member to your small business can be a really big leap and might even be out of reach, so finding ways to make your current staff more efficient and happier can be a great alternative. Growing pains can be managed by better utilization of the tools you already have, adding an online order management system onto your QuickBooks, and outsourcing certain functions.

order management system