Swap Your Administrative Tasks for More Entrepreneurial Opportunities
You probably recognize that you are more valuable to your business as an entrepreneur than as an administrator. Yet a recent survey by Intuit Australia shows that entrepreneurs often neglect managing and growing their businesses because they inadvertently spend far more time than they realize handling administrative duties.
To prevent this from happening to you, log your daily activity to determine where your hours go. If you’re spending an inordinate amount of time on any of the following tasks, you should consider delegating them to someone else instead.
Obviously, it’s necessary to track the money, goods, and services that flow in and out of your business. But when you personally bear the brunt of this responsibility, you aren’t as free to focus on entrepreneurial activities.
Let trusted employees record their own or — for greater security — one another’s everyday transactions while you analyze overall trends and patterns. Ask yourself: Is your business purchasing unnecessary goods and services? Catering to unprofitable customers? Failing to capitalize on changing sales and supplier markets?
Remember: As captain of the ship, you should be setting its course, not shoveling coal down in the engine room.
This is a critical function, so it’s always tempting to retain control of the checkbook and the money. But your business will nearly always do better when you outsource or delegate this administrative task to trained accountants and personally take a larger view.
As a business owner, you want to have time to consider whether you’re paying too much for what the company needs. Could you negotiate better prices or payment terms with your suppliers? Could you replace an expensive product (or service) with a cheaper one without compromising your company’s output, quality, or reputation?
Chasing Overdue Payments
Entrepreneurs often think they’re the only ones who can pester customers for late payments or otherwise keep receivables rolling in. Of course, they’re not. Accounting staff, sales staff, receivables specialists, and (in dire circumstances) even collection agencies all have the potential to do a more formal, efficient, cost-effective, and professional job that need never jeopardize your personal relationship with your slow-paying customers.
If you can’t delegate the task, trim the time you spend trying to collect overdue payments by asking new customers to complete a comprehensive credit application that helps you determine their true creditworthiness. You could also alter your billing process to offer incentives to customers who pay on time.
Note: Too many past-due accounts are often a sign that you’ve extended more credit to certain customers than warranted. If slow-paying customers become too big a problem for your small business, it’s time to rethink your credit policies and practices.
In the early days of any company, there are few (if any) employees to help supervise front-line activities. As your business grows, it’s important to lighten your supervisory load and devote more of your attention to strategy, planning, and fostering growth.
Begin delegating responsibilities as early in your business’s life-cycle as you can. For example, as soon as you have more than one person doing the same job, train one to be the “lead” employee who monitors and helps the other(s), so you don’t have to. As soon as you have more employees than you can readily interact with, appoint a supervisor with authority to handle the time-consuming day-to-day concerns that would otherwise keep you busy.
Handling Maintenance and More
You can hand off clerical and janitorial tasks far more easily than leadership activities like developing new markets, increasing your customer or client base, and raising your company’s profile.
So, why are you still sweeping up at the end of the day or opening the shop first thing in the morning? Make these jobs your employees’ responsibilities so you can tackle larger, logistical matters that they can’t.
Robert Moskowitz is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.