Strategy, Legal & Operations

Three ways to spend less time on business administration

In 2018, Sage launched a report into the productivity puzzle, highlighting the time and money businesses around the world are losing due to unnecessary admin.

The world has changed since we launched that report and we wanted to see if the productivity puzzle has improved, or whether it has worsened.

Our latest research, highlighted in our We Power the Nation research report, shines a light on the fact that businesses around the world are more burdened by unnecessary admin than ever.

We asked nearly 3,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across 12 countries to name their most time-consuming administrative tasks.

Here’s what the UK-based businesses told us:

Over the past 12 months, nearly a third of all businesses estimated that they spent more than 20 days dealing with these administrative tasks, with 15% spending more than 50 days on them. Among large businesses, that figure rises to around 20%.

So what’s to be done about these admin sinkholes? Below, we’ve selected a few Sage Advice blog posts that provide some answers on how to spend less time on business administration.

1. Prioritise

Sabuhi Gard suggests prioritising employee wellbeing to drive productivity – staff are key to business growth, and she quotes an American Express study that found 23% of SMEs felt investing in staff was a key ingredient for business growth – ahead of choosing suppliers and investing in technology.

Gard is a journalist with 20 years’ experience at UK national newspapers, so has spent a lot of time looking at what helps businesses develop and grow.

She suggest some crucial things SMEs can do to both look after their workers and increase their productivity.

You should also take a look at leadership coach Frederique Murphy’s inspiring advice to help isolate and protect your priorities – everything from learning to say no, to narrowing your focus.

2. Outsource

Put simply, why not get somebody else to do the admin work? Accounting is the admin task that our report identified as eating up most of a company’s time, so it might be time to hire an accountant, bookkeeper or assistant – or some combination of those roles.

“Getting the right support is crucial,” writes Keir Thomas-Bryant, our accountancy and accounting content specialist here at Sage.

He’s written up a checklist of things to consider when finding or choosing an accountant. This includes preparing a shortlist and keeping an eye out for accountants who offer added value such as holding regular networking events or business workshops.

If you remain unconvinced, you might also look at entrepreneur and business consultant Alex Jordan’s post explaining in detail how an accountant can help a small business. There’s also Tracey Bird’s article about the changing role of the accountant.

It’s about more than just the numbers nowadays.

3. Head into the cloud

A lot has been written about cloud computing. Not only can it help eradicate or alleviate many common time-consuming admin tasks, but it also frees you up to work at any time.

So why not take care of those little admin tasks on the train home from work, for example, ensuring your day is free for building and growing your business?

“It’s a good idea to put together some questions when assessing which cloud accounting solution is most appropriate for your business,” writes Nicky Larkin, managing director and founder of Goringe Accountants.

In her blog post Is cloud accounting right for your business?, she honestly evaluates whether it’s right for your business to head into the cloud – and gives some tips on how to do so.

You might also take a look at Thomas-Bryant’s infographic, showing at a glance 10 ways cloud computing can improve your business, or this post which highlights 5 key considerations to take into account when moving to the cloud.

I hope these tips help you cut down on admin and return to your true passion and the reason you decided to become an entrepreneur. Or if you’re looking to make the leap, these tips will stand you in good stead.

Reduce admin and boost productivity

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