Office administrative functions rank among the top three most time-consuming tasks for 81 percent of the small-business owners surveyed last year by Comprehensive Business Services, an accounting franchisor based in Mission Viejo, California. In fact, more than half those surveyed spend 15 or more hours each week on tasks that don't generate income for their businesses. That's a tremendous amount of lost potential and revenue. What's the solution? First, says Charles White of Comprehensive Business Services, take an inventory of how you're spending your time. List one item at a time and then review them, keeping these thoughts in mind:
- Be sure the task is essential. Will your business suffer if you aren't doing some of the things you've been doing?
- Systematize the task. "Analyze the procedure and create a step-by-step formula for getting it done," says White. This forces you to develop the most efficient way of doing the work.
- Delegate. Systematizing makes delegating much easier and more effective. Look within your organization for people who can take over tasks, and give them the necessary authority for getting the work done.
- Outsource. When you don't have the necessary skills for particular tasks within your company, outsource the work. "Outsourcing is a common way to delegate necessary functions that have no direct bearing on generating sales," says White. "Outsource in areas where there's a particular expertise required that you don't have. For example, advertising and accounting functions are commonly outsourced."
- Consolidate. When outsourcing, consider a source that can handle a number of related tasks. For example, you may look to your accounting firm to not only prepare your taxes and create standard financial reports, but to handle payroll and provide cash-flow management assistance. This allows the source to get to know your company and to act more as a consultant than simply a task-performer.
Comprehensive Business Services, (800) 323-9000, http://www.comprehensive.org