6 Tips for Keeping Your Small Business Running Smoothly
Starting a new business means taking on many new responsibilities, including administrative duties. As an independent consultant, you’ve likely chosen a field or industry in which you have experience and expertise. While much of your time and energy is spent doing focusing on specific projects for your clients, there’s a fair amount of administrative work that also needs to be done to keep your business moving forward and growing.
If managing admin work isn’t your thing, you may quickly find yourself falling behind in responding to email, billing, or filing client reports. Staying on top of administrative tasks is critical to keeping your business functioning smoothly. Follow these 6 tips to manage your administrative work and stay productive.
1. Prioritize Tasks
If you regularly struggle with managing your time when it comes to completing administrative work, try starting your day by completing the one task that you’re least looking forward to. This way, you can make sure you complete your most laborious—and often most important—task first.
Scheduling projects, deadlines, and appointments using an online calendar that you can sync to your phone, laptop, or other electronic devices can be helpful to remind you when important tasks are coming up. Try scheduling a recurring calendar appointment each day to set aside dedicated time to complete administrative work. Completing a few small tasks each day will help keep them from piling up at the end of the week.
2. Create Templates
Create a template for every form you use so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you need to send something out. Invoices, proposals, and billing statements have standard forms that you can customize. This way, you to simply plug in new information rather than creating a form from scratch or spending time finding an old one to copy.
Think about other tasks you find yourself repeating on a regular basis and see if there’s a way to automate them. For example, if you receive a lot of the same questions from your clients, consider creating a frequently asked questions page on your personal website that you can direct them to.
3. Get the Most Out of Your Email
Often times checking email frequently is more of a distraction than it is actually useful. Rather than checking your email every hour, set aside a few blocks of time during the day—such as once mid-morning and once mid-afternoon—to dedicate to email. This method can give you more time to focus on important tasks throughout the day and help increase productivity when you do take the time to organize and respond to messages.
Aside from limiting how often you check your email, if you haven’t already, take time to learn how to set up folders and filters in your email account. This will help you prioritize what emails you respond to and when. Store important contacts and create groups so you can easily access clients you regularly email.
4. Process Mail Immediately
Having a process in place to handle incoming mail is a helpful way to stay organized and save time. Rather than letting bills, letters, and documents pile up to sort through later, handle incoming mail right away. When you get it, read it. If you don’t need it, throw it away or recycle it. File it immediately if it needs to be filed and if there’s any action required on your end, take care of it right away.
5. Maintain Up-To-Date Inventories to Limit Errands
By keeping an updated inventory list of the supplies you need, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of time you spend running errands. Monitor usage so you can limit trips to once per week or once per month as needed. If you’re able to order supplies online, this can save you a significant amount of time and money as well. If errands are a must, schedule them during down times rather than during peak periods of work.
6. Develop a Filing System
Developing a filing system that works for you can help you stay organized and easily find what you need at a moments notice. Keep documents you use the most within reach, and systematically organize and store the rest. When you’re in a pinch and looking for a crucial item, you’ll be glad you de-cluttered your workspace ahead of time.