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Tackle These 4 Common Small Business Hurdles Before The Year Ends

by Dennis O’Keefe, Product Director for Workful

Planning the holiday party, writing bonus checks, reviewing financial statements, making final tax payments, conducting performance reviews – your end of the year to-do list is a mile long. Not to mention, your employees are trying to use up their vacation time.

You barely have time to breathe.

Maybe you’re also trying to handle every administrative task, dealing with poor hiring decisions, trying to update your training process, or spending too much time in the nitty gritty. You might have decided to fix these problems next year, when you have more time. These hurdles do not have to take a lot of time to overcome; you can do it before the end of the year.

Hurdle #1: Trying to do it all.

You’re passionate about your business and want it to succeed and grow, but that doesn’t mean you should be doing every job. Some things, like administrative tasks, can take up valuable time – time that could be spent looking at the bigger picture.

How to overcome it:

Automate what you can.

Look for low-cost tools to help you manage and automate your administrative duties. You’ll be able to get these tasks done faster and get back to running your business.

Ask for help.

Ask other small business owners how they overcame this hurdle. If you don’t know who to ask, check out the Small Business Administration (SBA) or your local SCORE office.

Delegate.

Delegate some of the smaller administrative tasks to your employees, especially those who want more responsibility. Here’s a simple approach that could help you let go of the reins:

  1. Decide which tasks you’re willing to delegate – tasks that you don’t have time for or aren’t in your areas of expertise. Keep the tasks that are critical to the success of your business or only you can do.
  2. Select the employee you want to handle each task, then provide clear instructions and deadlines.
  3. Thank the employee for taking on the extra responsibility.

Hurdle #2: Hiring the wrong staff.

Hiring the wrong person can affect every aspect of your business. Not only can it affect the overall morale of your team, bringing on the wrong person can hurt your productivity. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a bad hire could cost you at least 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings.

How to overcome it:

Standardize your interview process.

Before you start hiring, create a list of interview questions. It will be easier to compare candidates if they’ve all answered the same questions.

Consider your culture.

While it’s important to hire someone with the right skills and qualifications, it’s also important to hire someone who fits your company’s culture. During the interview process, ask questions that will help you determine if the candidate will be a good fit for your small business team.

Take your time.

You might feel pressured to hire someone quickly because your current staff is overextended. But rushing a hiring decision could put you right back where you started. Instead, take your time to ensure that you’re hiring the right person the first time.

Hurdle #3: Putting too little effort into onboarding.

If you see onboarding as a one-week process, you’re probably not spending enough time training your new hires. Onboarding is an ongoing process that extends over an employee’s first 90 days of work.

During onboarding, regularly check in periodically to make sure your employee feels like part of the team and understands how they’re contributing to the business’s success. Regularly review their performance and provide feedback that helps them improve.

This might seem like a lot when you already have so much to do, but a strong onboarding process can improve retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. This will actually save you time in the long run.

How to overcome it:

Automate what you can.

Some aspects of a strong onboarding process don’t have to be handled personally – like filling out paperwork and sharing company documents. Use digital tools to make the process seamless and consistent.

For example, share all your company documents (employee handbooks, expense policies, training documents, etc.) in an easily accessible location. New hires can access everything they need, and you’ll have more time to spend on the hands-on parts of onboarding.

Assign a mentor.

Don’t handle onboarding by yourself. When you hire a new employee, assign a mentor to help them become part of the team.

Hurdle #4: Spending too much time in your business.

The average small business owner spends 68% of their time in their business and only 32% of their time on their business.

When you’re first starting out, it’s normal to spend a lot of time in your business – handling those menial, but necessary, tasks. As time goes on, make sure you’re spending enough time on your business – focusing on growth and strategic planning.

How to overcome it:

Automate what you can.

Tools like Workful can help you save time on daily tasks, so you can get out of the trenches and start focusing on growth.

Empower your employees.

Show your employees you trust them by asking them to take on tasks for you. Then, empower them to make decisions so you can spend less time putting out fires and more time on your business.

It won’t take you a lot of time to overcome your hurdles if you 1.) automate what you can, 2.) hire the right employees, 3.) onboard fully and efficiently, and 4.) ask your employees for help. You’ll still have plenty of time to knock out your to-do list before the end of the year.

 

Dennis O’Keefe is the Product Director for Workful, a new cloud-based human resources, payroll and POS employee management suite made for small businesses.  Dennis has a rich history in the payroll, banking and small business management space, with a specific passion for helping small business owners streamline financial and record keeping processes so they can get back to what they’d rather be doing, growing their business.

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