In the midst of working on a startup, it can feel like you are juggling more balls than you can handle. There is so much to think about, so many areas for consideration – and there doesn’t seem to be any let up. Soon, the soft, friendly juggling balls begin to feel like knives – and the consequences of dropping one become more severe.
In the midst of all of this, it seems almost unfair to add another to the list. Apologies for that. However, this is an area you just can’t afford to let slip. If you don’t get it right from the start of your business, then it’s almost impossible to get it back on track.
Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most boring aspects of owning your own enterprise. When we think about our dreams of our own business and what we might enjoy about it, few of us list “business administration” as high on the list. Let’s face it: most of us try to pretend it doesn’t exist at all. Even for the super-organized amongst us, keeping track of all the red tape and bureaucracy can be a massive distraction. The only way of keeping your eye on the prize is to keep the admin side under control.
Of course, it’s easier said than done. But it’s a knife that is just going to keep getting bigger and bigger, to the point where you can’t even grasp the handle on it anymore. Then the cuts become inevitable – and neglected admin can become a wound you can’t heal from.
Develop A Strategy
There is no tried and true method for handling business admin; no perfect one-size-fits-all option. It all depends on the sector your business is in, the time you have available and if you have the luxury of employees from the start.
If this is an area you can afford to outsource, then do so. Of course, for most start-ups, that’s unrealistic. Every penny counts and, ultimately, some of the responsibility is going to fall onto you.
To develop a strategy that works for you, you have to look at the time you have available. If you have huge blocks of time available sporadically, then go for an approach that limits admin to a few heavy, work-intensive days per month. If you can’t spare that, then you will be better off with an approach aimed around half an hour each day spent dealing with the admin side.
What Falls Into The Category of Admin?
The administration of your business is anything involving paperwork. This is everything from your tax filings to invoices you generate through to the invoices you have to pay. If you have employees, then payroll goes into the same category. It even applies to the financial transactions, such as any loans you might take or the salary you pay yourself.
Furthermore, it’s the projections you have and your financial workings. You need to be able to know your profit/loss at a single glance at a spreadsheet. It’s everything that keeps the product or service you are offering running as it should.
Saving Time With Admin
When you have established just how big of a task you have ahead of you, there’s an immediate need to cut time. However, the time-saving cannot come at the cost of your efficiency. This isn’t an area to scan over, pay lip service to and then forget.
Of course, it is possible to find a way to do things quickly without damaging the ultimate impact. Again, much of these will depend on your sector and what you are offering, but here’re a few general ideas to get you started:
- Write canned response emails. If you deal with a lot of queries from customers or suppliers, having a set response ready to go will save you a lot of time. Examples would be responding to questions about when a new product is going to be available; it’s the same response every time. That means you can pre-write it and then just copy and paste the response.
- Furthermore, if you find yourself dealing with the above on a similar subject consistently, then look at your website. An FAQ section might be able to solve the problem; though there is no guarantee people will check it, it might catch a few.
- When it comes to the manual side of admin, look at how you can save time. This is everything from the small – how you collate documents or how you organize postage – to the large, such as packaging products. There are solutions for everything, such as stamps you can buy right online and workbooks to keep things together. The latter is particularly important, as loose papers floating around can make keeping track even harder.
With A Strategy In Place, Stick To It
With so many other balls in the air, you have to try and ensure you keep to your strategy. If you have a block of time set aside for admin, then you have to do it. Don’t think you can leave it until late at night and then do it from your sofa. This is an area you literally cannot afford to have discrepancies. Always try and tackle it early in the day when your mind is fresh – and preferably caffeinated. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ve got a strategy, so it’s all fine, but then forgetting to implement it.
Finally – Why Is This So Important?
The reason you have to get this right from the beginning is that it’s a growing process. The amount of admin you have is not going to reduce; in fact, it’s going to get worse. That means you need to be in an established routine, which begins on day one of your company operations. Leaving it too long is going to be like herding cats: intellectually possible but in practice, a living nightmare. Get a head start, and you will have your business on a firm footing from the get-go.