Admin is a persistent thorn in the paw of everyone who’s ever tried to run a business. It soaks up your valuable time, drives you to frustration, and can make your entrepreneurial dream feel more like a bureaucratic nightmare. The worst part is that there’s no avoiding it entirely. You will need to fill out paperwork, field formal requests, and deal with myriad other arduous tasks.
You can, however, find ways to mitigate the admin workload. You can take action to make it easier to deal with, and you can cut it back as much as possible. Simply getting rid of all unnecessary admin overhead will make a massive difference — and what’s left won’t be so bad to deal with, because you’ll know that it’s absolutely essential.
This is particularly important after you’ve purchased a company, because you’re under a certain amount of pressure to make the most of your new asset. The better the price you negotiated, the more likely it is that there are some major structural problems that urgently need addressing. And however much you prepared (even if you carried out exhaustive research), there will be aspects of the day-to-day operations that surprise and concern you.
You need to get things working the way you want them to, and reach a point of profitability (or at least breaking even) as soon as possible. In this post, we’re going to run through four key ways in which you can reduce admin costs for a company you just bought. Let’s begin.
Implement automation wherever possible
Perhaps the most useful thing you can do at this point is get used to using broad automation tools like Zapier or IFTTT. Supporting many integrations, they allow you to do many useful things: you can set certain messages to be sent out at fixed points, for instance, or ensure that information gets transferred from one part of your system to another without any manual effort.
Given how repetitive many admin tasks are, this alone can account for a huge portion of the overall workload. If data entry plays a big role in the business model, consider introducing an OCR system to automatically parse that data and place it in the appropriate fields. This will require some degree of oversight, of course, but no more than you’d need for manual entry.
Then there’s the matter of performance and task tracking, something that’s particularly vital in these times of remote working becoming the operational standard. The provision of software tools and accompanying resources can ensure that this tracking gets done without requiring direct intervention, freeing you up to focus on other things. Here are some relevant links:
- https://hourstack.com/ — There are plenty of time-tracking tools on the market, but HourStack has a good approach using easy-to-read daily workloads. Train all your employees to log their time carefully so you don’t need to chase things up.
- https://www.icompario.com/en-gb/fuel-cards/ — If your new business requires travel (particularly if it’s fleet-based), then keeping track of fuel expenses and route plans can be laborious. Fuel cards with tracking systems can handle all of that for you.
- https://www.catalytic.com/blog/complete-guide-to-onboarding-automation — The onboarding process can be tough, and there’s a good chance you’ll be bringing on some new hires (if only to replace outgoing employees who were informed of the sale). An automated onboarding process will link people to vital resources in a seamless way.
Make it a fully-paperless operation
Plenty of companies out there are still clinging to old ways of doing things, even despite their obvious deficiencies — and paperwork remains an obstacle in the way of optimized efficiency. Any documents you print can be lost or damaged very easily. The printing process itself can go wrong: printers can jam, ink supplies can run dry, and printheads can clog up. It’s a huge mess.
Then there’s the matter of transporting key documents such as contracts or project proposals. A courier can get lost and deliver something to the wrong building, leading to a major headache while you figure out what happened and smooth things over with the intended recipient. It was clunky before this year began, and it makes even less sense today.
Every process you’re using should be digitally documented and made available to everyone in the company as a vital resource. Using suitable software for every task you need to carry out (presentation software like Prezi for presentations, for example) will save you a lot of effort, increase your business security, and significantly reduce the likelihood of key files being lost.
Give your employees more freedom
Small businesses in particular can end up effectively paralyzed due to the owners opting not to trust their employees with even the simplest of tasks. Instead, they can require everyone to formally propose everything they want to do, explaining in minute detail why it’s the right way to go, then reject most suggestions without much thought.
This kind of tight grip over a company’s workings is tempting because it allows total control of the results: when everything in the business needs to get your approval before going ahead, you rarely need to deal with the consequences of someone else’s mistake (an experience that most would rather avoid). Yet you need to take that risk by granting people freedom.
By giving your new team the autonomy to keep doing what they’re doing without needing to run everything past you, you’ll show that you’re willing to trust them (which will help secure their loyalty), allow them to do better work, and get rid of a huge chunk of admin in the process. All the time that you would have spent reviewing requests and requiring alterations can be redirected into your workload (which will likely pertain to general strategy and sales).
Improve company communications
The move to working from home has made the process of keeping everyone on the same page significantly more difficult, so it won’t be surprising if you discover that your newly-assembled team is very fragmented. This fragmentation is bad for admin because it leads to duplicated tasks and extended confirmation processes — it can take as long to check that a task was completed properly as it took to actually complete it.
This is where workplace communication software becomes so important. Implementing and supporting a central communication system (such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, for instance) will ensure that everyone knows where to talk about their projects. Whenever there’s a notable misunderstanding, it can be resolved straightforwardly through such a system instead of waiting for the issue to get so bad that you need to arrange a meeting.
You’ll also need to ensure that everyone knows how to make the best of whichever system you select, which may require substantial training. It may well be frustrating to slow things down right out of the gate so you can invest in new skills, but it’ll pay off in the long run by leading to superior project efficiency and keeping all relevant information in a central virtual location.
Wrapping up, reducing admin costs in your new company will largely come down to tweaking outdated processes to make them more efficient (getting rid of paperwork and introducing automated workflows) and helping your employees get things done without needing to keep stopping to get permission or resolve communication blockages.