Drowning in administrative tasks and feel like there's no time to get anything useful actually done? Reduce red tape and make your business more efficient with our handy RED TAPE mnemonic.
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(R)eports show what matters
You don't have enough time to do everything, so you need to focus your energy on what's essential. Don't just base that on instinct — let the numbers be your guide. Once you recognise that business data is useful, the tasks required to produce it seem less wasteful.
On the most basic level, your monthly sales and profit and loss reports should be your most useful source of evidence. If you're in a growth phase, concentrate on sales growth. If you've stabilised, examine how you can increase margin. But whatever you choose, make sure you identify and generate the reports that will give you those details. On which point . . .
(E)lectronic processes and documents
Paper is the enemy when it comes to wasting time. Electronic documents don't waste physical space, are easily searched, can be readily backed up, and are just as legally valid as their paper equivalents. Make as many processes electronic as you can — banking, finance and order processing are all obvious targets. Documents that have to be on paper can be scanned so they don't clutter your life — check our guide to the best scanners.
(D)elegate whenever you can
Many business owners suffer from "only I can do it syndrome" — taking on every task themselves because they don't trust their subordinates. That's a sure path to exhaustion, frustration and wasted time. If your day seems too full, hire someone to help — whether that's a part-time assistant, an external freelancer to deal with specific tasks, or a temporary helper for a one-off rationalisation project.
(T)ackle one task at a time
When you're overwhelmed with demands, you'll often find yourself switching from one task to another — especially during the working day, when customer requests regularly cut across what you need to do. That's not the most efficient way to do things. If you're stuck with paperwork, do that one task, and don't let yourself be distracted. It will be over faster that way.
(A)ccountants are your friend
This is a special case of the delegation principal. Keeping track of tax requirements and financial standards is time-consuming and not especially useful — let a professional handle that. That said, make sure they explain the reason behind any data you have to provide.
(P)lan daily catch-ups
If you wait until the end of the month or the quarter, to process expenses and get documents ready, the process can be overwhelming. A daily 15-minute appointment to handle those tasks can be more efficient in the long run, and also means you'll identify any problem areas early.
If you don't enjoy the business you're in, the red tape you can't avoid is always going to be a drag. If you're enthused and excited about the work you're pursuing, those administrative hassles are just a small price of entry. So make sure your business is one you're passionate about.