10 New Year's resolutions for the self-employed

8 January, 2020 · 7 min read

You’ve grafted this past year. You’ve secured new clients, maybe set yourself up with a great new space. You got out there and met new people. But... you’re still dropping balls on the admin side. It’s not a crime, but does invite unnecessary hassle - yet it’s so easy to resolve.

Calling small business owners, self-employed, freelancers and sole traders. We’ve set a few New Year’s resolutions you can pick and mix from to power your business into 2020.

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1. Waste less time hunting for receipts

Be honest, how much time do you spend sorting through bundles of receipts? We all know we need to keep and manage our receipts, the rules are clear: limited companies should keep their receipts for six years after the 31 January tax deadline and sole traders for five years.

We can now choose from many digital tools out there to help us photograph and organise receipts. With ANNA, you can do it on the go - every time you make a purchase with your ANNA debit card, the app prompts you to capture receipts on the spot.

Digitising receipts and automating expense categorisation does away with time consuming admin. Open a business account with ANNA and our receipt organiser for small business will scan and safely store receipts electronically. No more paper receipts!

2. Learn to delegate

Learn to let go. You may harbour the belief that nobody else has the skills or capabilities to do the work that you have been diligently doing for so long. This year, give your employees or colleagues the chance to prove themselves doing new or extra tasks.

Take time to think about their individual strengths. Start with small tasks, and work your way up as they successfully complete them. Make time to train them properly and to feed back regularly - good communication is essential for team harmony.

Give employees or colleagues the chance to prove themselves doing new or extra tasks

3. Reduce routine admin tasks

Repetitive admin tasks like invoicing can be mind-numbingly dull, not to mention time-consuming. So how can you spend less time poring over spreadsheets? ANNA creates, sends and chases your invoices via our mobile app invoice generator, so you can get on with growing your business.

Creating an invoice is a breeze thanks to smart AI technology - just chat us the details via the app. No more repetitive manual data entry! Or, we can scan an old invoice and grab the info from there.

Matching invoices with payments is another chore. ANNA does it automatically - all your income and expenses can be categorised automatically for painless tax self-assessment and VAT.

Everything will be clean, tidy and up to date for your accountant. A happy and organised New Year thanks to automated bookkeeping!

4. Stop chasing invoices

Sounds implausible? ANNA can automatically chase up overdue invoices with a polite email so you don’t have to. This means less on your to-do list - saving time and bother, and should mean you get paid sooner too.

5. Simplify employee reimbursements

ANNA can give you multiple business debit cards for your co-directors and employees so they can use business debit cards for expenses. Because all payments come out of the business account, your team won't have to use their own money - and you won't have the hassle of reimbursing them afterwards.

If you wish, you can even give team members full access to the ANNA app, so they’ll get a reminder to snap the receipt immediately after their purchase - no more chasing lost receipts.

6. Do more networking

Networking isn't necessarily at the top of every small business owner’s to-do list. The thought of small talk and more commitments can be off-putting. But a strong professional network of mutually beneficial relationships can be an asset to you.

There’s a wealth of knowledge out there that your peers will be happy to share with you, helping you stay on top of trends and developments in your industry.

Networking makes you visible, and will give you a boost when people begin to call on you for your opinion and feedback. This is particularly advantageous for freelancers and small business owners.

Networking makes you visible, and will give you a boost when people call on you for your opinion and feedback

If you’re not especially comfortable approaching people at conferences - the ‘cold calling’ of networking - there are plenty of more relaxed situations where you can meet industry cohorts - clubs and associations, MeetUps, cafes and coworking spaces. To maximise the benefits of networking, have your ‘elevator pitch’ ready - a concise, clear description of what your business is about - and get into the habit of consolidating contacts by following up soon after.

7. Never stop learning

Never stay still. Stay on your toes to gain the edge through courses and training. Whether your skill gaps are practical, administrative, presentational or communicative, you can find opportunities online and ‘in real life’ to improve your competence. You’ll enjoy a feeling of accomplishment and a subsequent confidence boost.

Consciously putting yourself in a state of ‘lifelong learning’, outside of your comfort zone helps you adapt to unexpected changes through resilience - that most coveted quality!

It helps to focus some time on industry trends and ever-evolving technology to remain relevant and informed. However, new experiences don’t always have to be related to what you do - any learning process is valuable in helping you to see things from a new perspective and introduces fresh, innovative or critical thinking in the mix.

And you never know who you’ll meet.

8. Promote your business

Use these early months to plan your marketing and PR calendar. It helps with budgeting and allocating resources. Remember - it doesn’t matter how good you are - if nobody knows about you, you won’t make a success out of your venture.

Depending on your business, you could consider adwords - look for any promotions on Google or Facebook; invest time into creating original content - you can seed this across social networks including LinkedIn; look for speaking opportunities - there’s nothing like putting yourself on stage for personal development.

Are there any events you can get involved in so people can sample your product? Can you contribute any written point-of-view pieces for industry titles? Can you establish a customer referral scheme or negotiate any mutually beneficial partnerships with neighbouring or peer businesses? Are there any awards you could enter your work into that would gain your recognition? Or even host your own class or event where you can share your skills or space?

9. Allow yourself more me time

With the extra time you’ve gained from delegating your admin to ANNA, re-learn how to switch off. Leisure and idle time is constructive - not just to rejuvenate, but to let creative thought come into play.

Try an embargo on electronics, social media and email for an amount of time. Use those gained moments to get outside for a run or walk.

Or reconnect with your lunch hour - or two - by actually sitting down in a cafe or even sloping off to the cinema once in a while. A mid-week afternoon film on your own feels like a true indulgence.

10. Give something back

The world needs you! Giving is a true mood-booster with a likely halo effect on your business.

Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose, and you’ll meet new and diverse people who are united by their cause. Inevitably your patience, people and communication skills will improve. You’ll be exposing yourself to new experiences that will help you navigate new or complex encounters in the future.

Are there any skills shortage in your community? Can you offer any time up to mentor? Or contribute any products or services to those in need?

Simply put - those that give, get. Happy new year!

The best resolution you’ll make

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