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Office management for small businesses

Running a small business is fraught with challenges, but the day-to-day processes of simply being in an office space play second fiddle to the main tasks of earning money, don’t they? Actually, no, and in this post I’d like to explore why office management for small businesses makes a huge difference to your chances of success.

Working in an office of any size isn’t just about having somewhere to work. Just as a painter’s brush should be an extension of their thoughts and feelings, your office space should be an extension of the way you work. It should fit around you, and that means getting it organised in the right way. In my experience, though, office management for small businesses can leave a lot to be desired – a fact which often stops them from reaching their full potential.

The first question you should ask yourself is a simple one – do you know where everything is? For businesses which have started out in someone’s spare bedroom, this might seem really straightforward (after all, there are only so many places where something could be in a box room) but don’t be fooled.

The argument that “it’ll only take a few minutes to rummage through the files for what I’m looking for” doesn’t hold water, especially if you’re looking for your business to thrive. Too many small business owners fail to see the fact that they don’t want to be working from their spare bedroom forever; and yet bad habits are holding them back. Office management for small businesses starts with simply knowing where things are, and in putting them away when you’ve finished with them. You might be a small business, but being lazy for the sake of convenience and “getting on with the job” will only impair productivity and profitability.

Another key element in effective office management for small businesses is in the clear definition of roles. Who’s responsible for what? If the printer paper runs out, whose job is it to order more? In a team of three or four, tasks like this are often assigned on an ad-hoc basis, and everyone mucks in to get things done. As a business grows, however, it makes more sense to have one person in charge of these everyday tasks. (Some small business owners say they don’t need an office manager or general administrator, but these behind-the-scenes workers often maintain the infrastructure required for a company to function.) This aspect of office management for small business isn’t just about specific roles – it’s about establishing routines for how things operate, and ensuring that everyone sticks to them. Systems are part of larger companies for a reason… they work!

Keeping accurate records is another essential part of office management for small businesses. It doesn’t take long to set up a file for a new client, or to log some expenses, but these mundane tasks are often the most overlooked, leading to piles of paper everywhere and nobody being able to find anything. All very well when you’re starting out and can remember each individual thing that’s happened; an ordeal when things start to grow and you have to spend hours, or even days, catching up on admin which you haven’t kept up to date, or piecing together a fragmented paper trail.

Finally, perhaps the most thing to bear in mind when it comes to office management for small businesses is to take time out to make plans. Short-term, you’ll establish your daily or weekly goals to keep the everyday parts of your business (production, low-level admin and so on) running smoothly. Long-term, you’ll look at the overall direction your business is heading in, and have an opportunity to address areas which you feel need improvement.

In many ways, effective office management for small businesses starts with managing your time – it’s the most important resource you have available, so if you set your office up in the way that makes it as efficient as it can be, you’re setting your business up for success!

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