Swamp Monsters and Triffids
I’ve just unearthed an online article published on startups.co.uk. It’s from the 17th May so reflects current attitudes. The question they posed to managers of small businesses was “What is your time best spent on, what is it actually spent on and what’s the biggest ball-ache?” – although I think they used the words “…hindrance to productivity…”
A third said paperwork was what they spent most time on, with only 4% saying the paperwork was critical to their business.
This certainly reflects our experience. Does the ‘stuff’ never go away?? Me and Trusty Sidekick are pretty efficient; we have a high output and a strong work ethic, but for the love of God, no matter how hard we try we can’t reduce the amount of paper and paperwork generated by the business.
We’re quite sad though because we love a bit of paperwork. But it’s not just the amount, it’s about being organised with it. Disorganisation was cited by the small businesses as being a big issue as well; certainly, when we talk to people – and because we’re quite nosey (we call it ‘market research’) – it seems that most small businesses don’t plan enough, don’t think through processes, frequently adopt the most mind-boggling work arounds with absolutely no attempt to fix a problem and even fail to put in place simple things to make life easier. Forget digital; post it notes, whiteboards, filing trays and plastic folders are your friends and can revolutionise a small business. Don’t think old school is a waste of time (or embarrassing) – if it works, use it.
There was a period last year when we had so much work we were struggling to get a clear enough view of everything that needed doing so that we could make a workable schedule. We put some flip chart pages on the wall, one for each month. We got different coloured post it’s, one for each client. Then we started writing, one task per post it. From there it was easy – pulling out the time critical tasks first and then fitting in the rest of the tasks, and by using post it’s we could re-assign and play around with them until we had a schedule that met our clients’ needs and that we could resource.
It’s always hard to make time, but it’s worth investing some in your business, sorting out the mundane, the everyday and the downright boring. Think about ‘closing down’ for a couple of days, specifically to tackle these issues. Prepare for your time; think about the things that cause you most pain and how you can solve them or make them easier. Consider investing in outsourcing, money well spent if it means you do what you do best.
And if you have a home office don’t neglect your admin either – in some ways it’s even more important to be super organised as usually space is a premium. Don’t let your surroundings fool you into thinking your business doesn’t generate the same stuff as one that has an office.
Admin doesn’t sort itself out and it needs to be given the attention it deserves; attention that should make it easier and more time efficient. So, it’s down to you, do you want a business that is like a well-tended garden full of beautifully ordered roses or do you want an ugly mess full of weeds and the odd man-eating triffid?
If you would like help or just some moral support to get this stuff organised give Julie or Charlie a call on 01462 713444. Office or spare room – it doesn’t matter – if it’s your electronic stuff or your diaries, helping manage your emails or guiding you through creating timesheets, invoice logs or a simple database, PtG Business are here to help. And if it’s space you need? Why not think about renting some desk space or taking a seat at out café style table, both available from as little as an hour (pre-booking required).