By Neal Smith
Being a small to medium sized business (SMB) owner comes with the empowering autonomy to run a company exactly as you’ve always envisioned. However, that same autonomy comes with many responsibilities such as making decisions about some business practices with which you might not have much experience. As a business owner, you want to use the most effective tools for everything from client services to tracking your assets with the goal of keeping efficiency high and costs low.
As a small business grows, the number of its physical assets increases. These can be anything from office computers and electronics to appliances and company vehicles. It’s invaluable for business owners to have relevant information about these products for taxes, cost savings, employee training, safety measures and insurance purposes.
Proper cataloguing and automation of product information including purchase dates, product manuals and warranties, total asset value and more can help SMBs increase efficiency and savings by allowing them to easily, accurately report critical information like depreciation on their annual tax returns. Similarly, storing product information, including receipts and warranties in a single place, can be extremely valuable in the event of an unforeseen disaster such as a burglary or fire. Knowing things like the purchase date of an item and the extent of the warranty can make submitting a claim much easier and also increase the likelihood of maximizing the return from the insurance company.
Finding the “Just Right” Asset Management Tool
Most small businesses today don’t get it right. More than half of small business owners either don’t track their assets at all or they rely on manual spreadsheets. Others have invested in asset management software that’s much more than they need at their business’s current size.
Determining the right solution can be likened to Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It’s important to find the “just right” fit for your business. Manual asset tracking via spreadsheets is “too soft,” doesn’t scale, is time consuming and prone to inaccuracy. On the other hand, robust asset management platforms are “too hard,” including too many bells and whistles that offer little to no value for most SMB owners while also being overly complex and expensive.
For small business owners whose needs fall somewhere in the middle, a simple, easy to use app with essential functions can provide exactly what’s needed. There are apps available today where SMB owners can easily log all of their company’s valuable assets by scanning the product barcode or even simply taking a picture of the product. Doing so automatically adds pertinent information about the device, including model, warranty and, if applicable, any news, reviews, product videos and recall information. With these digital tools, owners can track their assets and also have all available product information at their fingertips, store and access this information in one place, and provide it to others as needed.
A study released in the U.K. last year revealed that 59 percent of SMB owners waste up to 10 hours per week on administrative tasks. There’s every reason to believe U.S. SMB owners suffer just as much. Consumers and businesses alike have turned to apps for everything from music to driving directions. Turning to apps to manage assets can be the “just right” solution for many SMBs today.
Neal Smith is the cofounder and CEO of Xoult.