To err is human, but it is also bad business. While mistakes are as unavoidable in the workplace as they are everywhere else in life, big errors in business can be costly. Fortunately, many common mistakes can be prevented, or at least greatly reduced, with the right safeguards in place. If your business is dealing with noticeable levels of avoidable errors, consider some ways to help make your business, store, or office run more smoothly.
Surveys have shown that one of the biggest sources of employee error is a misunderstanding about what is expected or the correct process to follow. Communicating clearly with employees about the goals of any project and the expected timeline reduces the likelihood of confusion, redundancy, and people working at cross purposes with each other. Communication is a two-way street, so make sure employees who have questions or concerns feel comfortable asking for clarification and know to whom to direct their queries.
Having a standard procedure in place for each important task is a big step toward ensuring that processes get done correctly the first time. Errors are inevitable in bookkeeping and administration when everyone is doing things their own way. Designing a streamlined, standard procedure for routine tasks, such as sending invoices or tracking payments, not only prevents a lot of errors from occurring, but it also ensures that mistakes are easily caught when they do occur.
No one wants to be micromanaged, and small business owners are not using their time most productively if they have to oversee every routine office task. Offering quality training from the beginning, and continuous onboarding where needed, ensures that every member of your team stays on the same page. As your business grows, as your technology is updated, and as your procedures change, make sure to keep your workers updated and informed. Keeping them well-trained in their positions increases their own confidence in their job performance and enables everyone to work more competently.
People tend to make mistakes when they are distracted and rushed. Small business owners want to get the most from their employees, but overloading them will greatly reduce their productivity. Keeping in touch with your employees gives you insight into how much you can reasonably expect from them and enables them to tell you when they are overworked or are being asked to do things outside their expertise or job description. Those businesses that can offer remote work options for employees allow workers to control when and from where they work, guaranteeing that employees are working during the times that they know they are most productive and least distracted.
Automating tools for businesses are abundant these days, and you can find a digital solution for just about every problem. Online services designed specifically for small businesses are very affordable and customizable to varying business needs. While suitable for small businesses and even solo ventures, most cloud-based products are also scalable, as well, and offer features that will grow with your business. Automating routine, high-error tasks like sending invoices, tracking expenses, tracking employee hours, scheduling appointments, and issuing payments improves time management and greatly reduces accounting and clerical errors. Using programs that integrate with each other allows bookkeeping entries to be input once and then automatically updated across all necessary systems. Having financial records securely stored and backed up makes tax preparation smoother and more accurate, as well.
Since communication from your business sets a tone with your clients, it is often a good idea to have more than one person look over important documents and large financial transactions before they are approved. Poorly crafted messages with noticeable errors will undermine your brand, so proofreading all important documents for grammar, spelling, and clarity is vital to maintaining a high level of professionalism; double-checking financial transactions before they go through saves a lot of time later tracking down mistakes and correcting them.
While it’s impossible to create an error-free work environment, meaningful steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of big (costly) mistakes. Putting in place some internal controls designed to catch errors when they occur helps prevent one mistake from creating a foundation for many subsequent mistakes that end up costing money and undermining your company’s professional reputation.