Managing your Business: Many businesses fail as a result of poorly organised paperwork. In a well run office it is easy to obtain the information you need to see just where your business is right now and where it is headed. In this article we provide an overview of the minimum requirements to managing your business.
So you’ve come up with a fantastic business idea, you’ve done all of your homework, market analysis, business plan, budgets, financial forecasts, negotiated leases and organised premises, you have your product ready to go and you’ve marketed it so well, that even Apple would be impressed. Everything is looking a million dollars and you are sure to be a success……..unless you walk into your office to see something that strangely resembles a cross between an explosion in a paper factory and a teenager’s bedroom.
Whilst you were busy eagerly beavering away on your stellar business plan and full of thoughts of being your own boss, you perhaps didn’t stop to consider the not so glamorous, day to day chore of the administration of all your hard work, blood, sweat and tears, after all there are administration assistants for that right?
Well if you are a new start up you are probably in the position that you cannot afford to hire an administrator for 5 hours a week, let alone 30, so sorry to break it to you but guess what? It’s time to roll up those sleeves and make like Joanie from Mad Men (minus the matching two piece and copious amounts of whisky) and manage your own office.
Managing Your Business – A Basic Checklist:
Here’s a quick check list of the 5 most important things you must consider for an office that a military general would be proud of.
1. Filing systems.
Probably the single most important procedure you need to have in place in your office. All those bits of paper on your desk? Well they should be filed away in the appropriate location. And it’s not just hard copy filing that you need to pay attention to either, electronic filing of documents plays an important role too, in terms of not having to endlessly search for documents on your system (and the longer you are in business, the more documents you will have to search through!)
This is probably a good moment to get you thinking about back-up procedures for all of your files and information as well, insurance may cover a burnt-down building, but it won’t cover hundreds of lost documents.
You may require specialist software specific to your business, but have you thought about accounting software? Email software? Word processing software? Spreadsheet software? Database software? Graphic design software? Calendar and diary management software? There are many simple (and complicated) options out there, but pick one that suits the needs of you and your business, not necessarily the one that claims to be all singing and all dancing. Trial software if necessary, many companies offer a 30 day free trial.
3. Accounting Procedures.
If you aren’t already an accountant, and you are serious about your business, I would strongly suggest engaging an accountant to help you keep track of finances and deal with the complicated issues. But this isn’t to say that you just hand them a box of receipts and papers at the end of every financial year.
There are many things to consider; do you want monthly, 6 monthly or annual reports? Will they file your IRD returns for you or will they give you the information to do this, or will you run this alongside your own accounting package and you undertake this task? Can your accountant link directly to your bank account to obtain critical information they need, or will you need to give them detailed lists each month?
Whichever path you choose, if you ensure the accountant is getting the information they require from you in a tidy, organised and concise manner, this should see your bills from them being kept to a minimum.
There is nothing that breeds unproductivity more than not having a plan. Think about it, in your personal life you almost always come up with a plan for your free time or else it would be spent sat on the couch watching TV right? This is no truer than in the world of office administration and especially if you have several things you need to achieve throughout the month. Debtors, Creditors, IRD Returns, Salary Payments, Loan Repayments, Financial Reporting, Cashbooks, Backups and even filing should all be part of your monthly schedule.
It’s good to know what you are supposed to be doing and when you are supposed to be doing it, it also allows the inner procrastinator in all of us to not leave things until the last minute and then have to spend twice as long on them.
5. Record Keeping.
We all know that we need to keep certain documents for 7 years to keep those lovely folks at the IRD happy, but what about the other things? As a rule of thumb, if it relates to your business, you should probably keep it. This is true of items such as leases, contracts, important correspondence, plans and agreements. And receipts. All receipts! If it is bought with the business account, or for your business you need to keep it! This will upset the people who hate “clutter” but it is a necessary evil for the auditors and also you never know when you may need to recall something you did last year. If you are in any doubt where to keep such information, I suggest in your well formed filing system (see point 1).
So there we have it – the very basics of good office management. Obviously there are many, many other areas to running an office, but with these starting blocks, great efficiency will happen.
You are a business owner and/or a manager, you want to be doing business, not spending hours wading through paperwork.