Building and developing the administrative side of your small business can be difficult. There are so many aspects of administrative tasks that are at the heart of a small business and which help it to run smoothly: managing payroll, properly collecting and reporting taxes, handling incoming mail, maintaining your company’s personnel and financial records, sending out invoices or fulfilling new orders, keeping track of vendor contracts… it’s quite a long list. Here are five tips to help you manage the administrative side of starting a business:
1. Make Your Internal Process and Procedures Less Complex
KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. No, I don’t mean you’re stupid, but unnecessarily complex systems are. Try to keep your processes and procedures as simple as possible to accomplish their goal. Too often, business leaders claiming to be thinking ahead instead create so much complexity with needlessly complex systems that it actual hurts their business. Keep both your procedures and even your business model as simple as possible to reduce unnecessary cost.
2. Hire Some Help for Your Business
As tempting as wearing multiple hats may be and thinking you can do it all yourself, it really is better to get the help that you need. Even if it is just hiring a couple of part-time employees to help with the administrative functions at first, start thinking about what support functions need to be put in place so you and your team can focus on the core of your business. Some of the first areas to look at are accounting (both accounts receivable and payables, as well as bookkeeping), customer service, and order fulfillment. Figure out the areas where you need the most support and hire accordingly. But before you do that…
3. Create an Operational Manual
This type of manual should provide details on how to handle various tasks specific to your business. It is important to provide a step-by-step procedure for each process so your new hires can reference it as they get used to their job. Nothing causes a mess faster than hiring someone and expecting them to “just know” how your business operates. Creating these doesn’t need to be hard, just start taking notes of the steps you use to perform certain duties and spend a bit of time to get it formally typed-up and packaged. This manual not only helps streamline your operations the way you want them to be, but as mentioned is essential for training new hires.
4. Have a Clean Office, Yes, But You Also Need a Clean Digital Workspace
You can not effectively run a business when your office is untidy. Disorganization breeds confusion, stress, and distraction. Make certain that all work surfaces and desks are clutter free. In the age of paperless offices and bring-your-own-computer work environments, it’s equally important that your digital workspace is also tidy. If your company uses Dropbox or another cloud storage solution, for example, make sure everyone understands the file system and knows where to store various types of files. You may also want to use project management software, which will help keep track of the various tasks everyone is working on in an organized fashion. Gone are the days of periodic reports to the head of the company: you must strategically think about what systems can be put in place that will not only organize everyone but provide actionable data and insight that you as the leader can use.
There are administrative issues that you’re going to have to deal with in business from the day you get your first customer. Sending out invoices, paying your bills, hiring new employees, and ordering supplies are necessary tasks which don’t directly generate revenues, and so it’s critical that you accomplish them as efficiently as possible. Just as important as crafting a solid sales strategy is to give serious thought to how your internal procedures and systems will grow as you do.
Jeremy Gayton blogs about small business issues, including strategic leadership. If you are looking for a career in this field, you might consider applying for a Masters in Strategic Leadership at http://online.nec.edu/strategic-leadership/ or http://www.quinnipiac.edu.