While many entrepreneurs pride themselves on their ability to launch and run their companies without formal business training, managing a business without systems and procedures can significantly reduce the chances of success. Although it might seem as though scheduling your activities won’t help you sell more, manage expenses or increase profits, the advantages of planning your workday, projects and regular activities can mean the difference between making a profit and struggling to stay afloat.
A scheduling system helps you stay on track to get important projects done. Checking a to-do list each day, at the very least, reminds you of upcoming deadlines. Scheduling systems that prioritize your projects help you get to the most important projects first. When you don’t use a schedule, work can pile up, causing you to take shortcuts and put less time and effort into rushed work. The more time you have to finish tasks, the higher quality the work will be. Using computer scheduling allows you to send reminder alerts to your desktop or phone.
A scheduling system can help you avoid missing payments or making late payments on debts you owe. When you miss credit card payments and other bills, you face late fees, you might also lose an interest-free introductory balance transfer rate or you may have your credit card interest rate increased. Not making bank deposits on time can lead to bounced checks that cost you fees from both the check recipient and your bank. Late payments that appear on your credit reports can lower your score and decrease your access to credit products such as bank loans and credit cards with low interest rates.
A supply chain is the series of processes required to get your product made and delivered to your customers. For example, if you make widgets, your supply chain includes the companies that sell you the materials to make the widgets, the delivery service that brings the materials to your facility, your production and warehouse facilities and your distribution methods. If one part of the supply chain isn’t scheduled properly, it disrupts the rest of the chain and can delay delivery of your product to customers. When customers can’t get the product from you in a timely manner, they might go elsewhere.
Small business owners often struggle with cash flow, which is the timing of income and expenses. If you plan on paying your own bills when customers pay you, because you assume they will pay on time, you can end up in a bind when receivables are slow. Scheduling your credit terms, sales, deliveries and receivables to give you plenty of time to pay bills helps you better plan your finances. If you have a financial reporting schedule in place, you can move money from one account to another, or take out a bridge loan, when necessary to make your payments.
Companies rely on projects to manage everything from marketing to production to executive searches. Projects often include multiple phases or teams, and without strict schedules, they can get off track. For example, a home builder can’t schedule electricians until the house is framed in. If the electricians can’t do their work, this holds up the drywall, paint and carpet contractors. If the builder isn’t ready for his contractors at the agreed-upon time, the contractors might not be able to come back when the builder is ready because they have other jobs scheduled. Project scheduling systems should include deadline cushions that take into account the possibility of delays with one part of the project.