Administration is one of those essential tasks that there is no avoiding if you want your business to operate smoothly, but it can feel like it gets in the way of the important work of developing and growing your business. After all, you didn’t go self-employed with the intention of sitting at a desk answering phones and dealing with emails all day, you wanted to be sourcing products, making sales and working on your business strategy. Nevertheless, the paperwork must be done, and it’s down to you to see that all your admin is kept under control, organized and efficiently managed.
If you’re a freelancer or sole trader, you may not have the finance to employ someone to assist you with your admin, so to reduce the amount of time and energy it uses, get yourself as super organized as you can be. There are numerous apps available that can help you organize your time more effectively, including diary and appointment tools, planners, activity monitoring software that can tell you how you spend your time each day, and many more. There are thousands of free templates for every kind of document you might need, so you don’t have to waste time designing and populating your own. If you’re not sure how to start getting organized, there are many self-help guides, courses, and websites devoted to improving your organization skills, and many very good ones are available for free, so do some research before you start to find the information that will make a difference to your skills.
Content management systems and associated software programs have become increasingly clever and multi-functional in recent years. They can schedule your blog posts, send out emails at appointed times to specified people, personalize communications, integrate all your systems, run automated marketing campaigns – basically automate most of your functions, and then provide you with some very useful data about how effective all your operations are as well. If you don’t want to go the whole hog, you can still use some very handy apps to help you streamline your administrative functions. For example, social media management tools that allow you to share one post to any or all of your social media accounts at once, and email management software like MailChimp that can automate your email marketing campaigns and collect valuable customer information. Simple plans can often be free, so you don’t even need to make a big financial investment.
You don’t need to answer your phones anymore, instead you can get someone else to do it for you. The great thing is it doesn’t matter where you are in relation to your service, as modern telephone communication is robust enough to support remote services acting on your behalf. The way it works is that your office numbers are linked to your answering service, who then pick up when someone calls you and deals with the type of call as you have asked them to. You don’t even hear the phone ring, you can carry on working undisturbed. You need to give the service personnel enough information to be able to deal effectively with any type of call you’re likely to get, so that your calls are handled in exactly the right way to support your business functions and treat clients respectfully and helpfully. Some business owners never answer their phones, and instruct their service to ask anyone wanting to speak with them personally to make an appointment. That way they have scheduled phone calls at times that suit them and no interruptions to their day. There are specialist services available for complex professions like law, such as the 24×7 Attorney Answering Service. When you work in a profession like this, it pays to have a service that can handle legal calls correctly because the effect of using staff that doesn’t have the legal know-how could be damaging to your reputation.
If you have a large enough company, you may be able to afford your own personal assistant, and this is a worthwhile investment to make. Personal assistants perform the function of secretaries but can also undertake any other tasks that you need taking care of so that you can concentrate on growing your business. You don’t need to have a full-time person assisting you, a few hours a day or a couple of times a week may be all you need to cover the essential admin.
You can also hire virtual assistants, and this is becoming increasingly popular. These are qualified and experienced assistants who work freelance themselves, providing admin support to businesses that require their services to look after electronic communications, files, and correspondence. Because the information is all stored digitally, all the work can be conducted over the Internet, and therefore your assistant could live anywhere in the world.
The advantages of a virtual assistant are that you don’t have to employ them directly because they are self-employed, you don’t need to have anyone working with you, which can be a blessing if you work from home and there isn’t a lot of space for two people to work, and you have a much wider talent pool to select from than if you were hiring locally. You can also engage virtual copywriters for your marketing campaigns, and content writers for quality web pages and blog posts. If you have a small project or a simple job you don’t have time to do you can hire someone to complete the work for you as a one-off, which may be a good solution if you are happy managing your day to day admin but struggle when anything extra is required.
Admin may be an unavoidable chore, but you won’t do very well if you don’t deal with it effectively. If you imagine your business as an engine, admin is the lubricant that enables all the different parts of the engine to work together and run smoothly. Without oil, the engine will grind and eventually seize up, and unless you have efficient systems in place to manage your admin effectively, your business may start to grind and seize up as well.