Does this sound like you?
Your business started off as a passion project, but now you’re drowning in admin work.
During a typical hectic day running your small business, you might confuse “busy” with “productive.” Yet being productive on critical tasks is crucial to your success.
Unless you’re working around the clock, you need to reduce your admin duties. The problem is, you might not even be aware of how much time you are spending doing things that either can be delegated (even in a very small business), or made simpler and faster with new technology.
To motivate yourself to get a handle on the problem, think about what your life would be if you cut down the number of hours you put in every day, and find the time you spend at work much for rewarding. A lot better, right?
The first step toward that happier state is to list the most important goals you need to accomplish, and the key tasks you need to perform to get you there. Those goals can be derived from your business plan (here are some tips to create one if you haven’t done so yet).
Reduce your administrative duties
With goals like growing or diversifying your business, increasing your profitability, and bringing exceptional talent on board, you’ll need to reduce your admin to the bare minimum, if not entirely.
If you think you’ve already done so, or aren’t sure where all the time goes, give yourself a worktime task audit. It’s easy by using a time tracker app. There are plenty on the market, including some that are free. You need to cover a long enough time period to give you a reliable snapshot, say a week or two.
To get started, first think about what you spend your time on over a representative time period, categorize the main tasks, and divide them into two groups: administrative and mission-critical.
Mission-critical tasks vs. administrative
Mission-critical tasks include:
- Analyzing your revenue trends by customer segment,
- Updating your sales and marketing strategy, based on an assessment of the success of your current strategy,
- Evaluating the life cycle of your products and services,
- New product/service development,
- Budgeting, and, crucially,
- Executing the plans you make based on what you learn from completing those tasks.
Administrative tasks that might be eating up much of your work day typically fall into the areas like accounting/bookkeeping, HR, and employee benefits administration, and routine regulatory compliance matters. Maybe you’re even also spending time organizing and filing of paper documents like invoices, receipts, and bank records.
As you go through the task categorization process, you might find the need to create new task categories, and surprise yourself by how much time they consume.
When you’re done, it’s time to make sense of what you have discovered. First, consider the total number of hours you spend working in an average week.
Sure, running your own business is more demanding than a 9-5 job, especially in a challenging business environment. But even so, is there room for improvement? The answer is probably “yes.” It’s certainly worth giving it a try.
Where your time goes
Start making sense of your time audit by looking at the time you spend on mission-critical activities. Unless you’re fully satisfied with what you have achieved in those areas, it’s time to shrink the time spent on administrative tasks to get the important stuff done. But how?
First, take a look at the range of time-saving tech solutions, like AutoEntry for Sage Accounting, that cut down your admin work and give you back time to spend on value-added work.
Some solutions are simple and don’t reinvent the wheel. An example is invoice templates that are easily customized, conveying a professional image when you’re seeking payment. Common productivity apps might already be well-stocked with common business templates. If not, a quick Internet search for business document templates will yield lots of options.
Another burgeoning area of administrative task streamlining involves easy digitization of paper business documents, including expense receipts, that can not only be easily digitized but incorporated into summary reports for that category of document.
On a broader scale, productivity-enhancing tech solutions in areas like accounting, HR self-service, payroll, and invoice processing, can shrink the time required to handle the full range of business administration functions.
Despite its marvels, administrative task time-saving technology still requires human support. That’s where the final piece of the puzzle to reduce your administrative duties involves ensuring that you have qualified people on your team who you can offload non-mission critical tasks to. An investment in administrative talent could pay for itself many times over if it frees you up to do the things that only you can do and must do well to accomplish your strategic business goals.