You started a business to follow your passion. To pursue what makes you happy. To create your own path. However, did you ever imagine the amount of extra work that comes with running a business?
According to our whitepaper, “Avoiding the Admin Sinkholes—Business burdens, and how to deal with them,” smaller businesses in the US estimate they 266 days per year on admin. In the US a working year is considered to typically contain 260 days, so somehow American businesses are spending more than an actual working year on admin tasks!
What’s the solution to the admin crisis?
Regardless of their size, most successful businesses utilize two vastly different, yet amazingly effective solutions. The first is business outsourcing, and the second is to make use of cloud computing, which might be said to be the most important computing revolution after the desktop computing revolution in the 1980s, and the Internet revolution of the 1990s.
The thought of implementing these within your business might fill you with dread but the truth is neither needs to be a headache. Here are some tips on how to get started.
It might sound easy but a simple way to reduce your admin headache is to have somebody else do the work, and this is the fundamental principle behind business outsourcing. Although the word has become synonymous with certain kinds of functions, such as information technology (IT), in fact just about any function of a business can be outsourced.
Here are the first steps you should take when considering outsourcing.
Identify: Spend a little time making sure you understand and can convey in writing what task(s) you want to outsource—and how much of that task you would like to outsource, as well as the degree of automation you would like to hand off. For example, a growing business might want to outsource accounting to a bookkeeper and outsource the payroll, but still, retain control over a degree of your sales expenditure accounting.
Prepare: It is extremely likely you will need to transfer your existing data and knowledge to the outsourcing third-party, and there’s really no way of getting around this so you will need to budget time up-front to do so. For example, if outsourcing bookkeeping needs, you might need to set aside time to get your accounts in order, plus take a little extra time to walk your accountant or bookkeeper through them for ease of understanding. Don’t forget that for large outsourcing jobs, you might need to have a lawyer prepare contracts in advance, something that can be a hidden cost that needs to be added-in when budgeting.
Locate, research and hire: There are several options for finding people or third-parties to whom you can outsource, but this can present obvious dangers when utilizing people or companies whom you have not worked with before, or who are overseas so potentially outside easy legal redress (outsourcing overseas is known as offshoring). To avoid issues, you might ask for recommendations from your peers, or even ask the firm or individual you are considering working with if they have any references or previous clients you can contact for references. Sites like TrustPilot.com and sitejabber.com also help by providing user-reviews of businesses. An organization like the Better Business Bureau are a great resource to find out what companies have received complaints.
Moving to the cloud
Most of us have already accepted cloud computing into our lives, even if we are not entirely aware of it. After all social media sites like Facebook, or access-anywhere email services like Gmail, are all flag-bearers for the cloud revolution.
And embracing cloud computing within your business is really no different. You can use the same equipment, which is to say the phone in your pocket, or the tablet in your bag that you use to watch movies and play games.
Give it time: Most of us put a lot of time and effort in using cloud services in our personal lives. After all, services like Facebook can be confusing at first yet somehow, we all overcame these hurdles and turned into social media pros within no time at all. Well, the same is true of cloud apps and services for businesses. Most will aim to make the process of admin as easy and as enjoyable as possible, but you will still have to put in the effort to make the most of the experience. This will involve making time to get better at using the cloud app, and finding a way to build it into your life and everyday experiences. For example, for an accounting app, you might want to get used to checking your financial dashboard every lunchtime to ensure any outstanding invoices are being taken care of.
Sharing is caring: Nearly all cloud services and apps are built with sharing and collaboration in mind. To return to the example of an accounting cloud service mentioned above, you might choose to hook your cloud accounting into your accountant’s cloud solution so that they can also see your data. This will make it extremely easy for them to take care of your taxes, for example, and you might find your bills falling as a result. Alternatively, if you have employees, you might choose to give them access to your cloud computing solution too. Put simply, the old days of “one computer, one software package” are gone, but it can be hard to lose that mentality and difficult to remember to truly embrace the freedom that cloud computing offers.
Don’t be afraid to experiment: New technology often brings surprising new ways of working and it is best to try and avoid cynicism or reticence to just enjoy the experience. In short, always be prepared to experiment and let yourself go with the flow of new technology. For example, smart watches mean that you can view information and vital notifications from your cloud services and apps without even having to lift a gadget out of your pocket or boot up your computer. All you need to do is glance at your wrist. This feels strange at first but can rapidly turn into the biggest time-saving habit of all time! Similarly, we are at a stage now in the cloud and mobile computing revolution where you no longer need a desktop or laptop PC. Many people find it possible to do all their tasks using a tablet computer and a mobile phone. And without the need for a desktop PC, you also do not need for a desktop to put it on—and therefore you might not even have any need for an office in which to put that desktop! You can work wherever you happen to be. Again, it’s all about having a mentality where you are prepared to embrace the often-radical potential offered by new technology.
Reduce admin and boost productivity: A guide for small businesses
Trying to build your business but admin is getting in the way? Get your free guide and read it for advice on managing your time, optimizing how you work and using technology to reduce your admin.