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5 ways to help your small business minimize admin tasks

When you’re running a small business, there’s always too much to do.

It’s why so many people working in small businesses get frustrated with the little jobs that aren’t important enough to get excited about but too important to ignore completely. Or as it’s more commonly known—admin.

Stuff like chasing people for invoices, updating a file that nobody reads or copying something over from one system to another in a totally different format.

It’s the kind of stuff you need to do to make sure everything is in the right place and properly formatted for other people to work with.

But it isn’t the really critical, juicy stuff you want to or need to be spending your time on.

Now, there’s always going to be some amount of administrative work that needs to be done. But there’s a lot you can do to reduce it too. And seriously help your small business.

Here are five things worth trying.

1. Find out how much time your people spend chasing each other

Often, the most frustrating admin task is just hounding someone else to do what they were supposed to do. That might be chasing someone to submit an invoice. Or it might be chasing a client to pay on time so your cashflow doesn’t suffer.

The good news is that you can automate this job of ‘chasing’ people down to a great extent—and you don’t need any fancy tech to do it.

For instance, you can set up recurring calendar invites at specific times to remind people if they need to do something every day, week or month.

You could also just automate a reminder to them through a tool like Slack.

2. Get rid of the old-school software that slows everyone down

Sometimes businesses end up using older software that actually hurts productivity more than it improves it.

For instance, you might be using old-school finance software that forces people to delete and re-enter every field in a form—even if they only need to change one field. 

That may just look like an inconvenience. But all those minutes wasted add up. More important, all the frustration adds up too.

So if you’re using some old software because that’s just how you’ve always done things— don’t. Think about the longer term and all the processes you could improve.

3. Have fewer ‘sources of truth’

When companies start to grow and evolve their processes, one of the first issues they come across is duplicated documents.

Instead of having one employee list or devices list, you end up with two or three because each one is communicating with a different person.

Worse, you may need to copy the same information and translate it into a different format. Even more frustrating.

Now, to some extent, you’ll always have silos like these to deal with. If different teams need different systems but the same information, it happens.

But you can work to reduce the number of systems and spreadsheets people need to update. You can reduce the number of places files are stored.

And you can use an integration tool like IFTTT or Zapier to make sure different systems are connected.

4. Think about how you label your files

When you’ve got multiple teams creating, updating and managing the same documents, it’s easy for things to descend into chaos.

The most annoying kind of admin in a business that uses a lot of documents is when someone has to spend hours fixing file names because everyone labels things differently.

Instead, it’s worth spending some time to decide what your file naming convention should be—and then making sure everyone applies that convention.

Yes, people will forget. And yes, reminding them will be a pain. But in the long run, having a commonly accepted approach to document naming and storage will make your life so much easier.

5. Take the time to think about your processes

Process documentation doesn’t seem like the most important thing for a business. But in the long run, thinking about the way you work is some of the most valuable work you’ll ever do.

For instance, you might realize that people spend far too much time just managing paper forms—transcribing handwriting, waiting for forms to come in, storing them.

Well, when you know that it’s a lot easier to spot opportunities to improve those processes by switching to things like mobile forms.

It’s a small move but it can make everyone’s life a lot easier.

Whatever you find—and whatever the solution—the main thing is that you’re deliberate about analyzing and improving your processes. It pays off.

Help your small business by taking away the little problems

It may seem like the best way to help your small business is by making big, sweeping changes.

But if most of your best people are spending most of their time doing dull admin tasks they don’t enjoy; you can actually make their lives much better with small changes.

For more advice on how to cut down your admin burden, or any other challenges your business might face, contact us at 1-877-633-1102—or visit our small business website.