It’s a terrific feeling when you start up your own business. That feeling of freedom, fun and achievement, of being able to do what you want to do when you want to do it, is great.
Creating products, developing your brand, setting up your own website or e-commerce shop, meeting customers and getting to know fellow entrepreneurs – it’s all new, exciting and exhilarating.
But it’s all too easy to keep on doing the fun stuff and forget about doing all the boring stuff, all the admin and back-office work that makes your business run smoothly…commonly referred to as ‘Grunt Work’! Like it or not, the grunt work needs to be done, and the sooner you take care of it the better, as it leaves you more time to focus on the exciting creative work that will really grow your business.
But although admin is grunt work, it doesn’t need to be hard work. With a bit of planning, and a small amount of time regularly set aside, you will soon get into the way of happily dealing with the grunt work…and find that your systems and processes are a massive help in creating your long-term business success.
So, what types of admin tasks are in your grunt work to-do list?
Firstly, anything to do with money and bills and invoices. Paying your staff on time, paying your suppliers and any other bills on time, getting your invoices out the door quickly (the quicker they are out, the quicker you will be paid!), tracking expenses, doing your accounts, paying your VAT and other taxes, ordering supplies, booking travel and accommodation and keeping a close eye on how much money is going and out of your bank account. All this work is very helpful with forecasting how much money you need for your business over the coming weeks, months and years.
Next is anything to do with things like business and professional insurances, any certifications or registrations required, annual renewals, legal documents, confidentiality agreements and so on. This type of information can be especially important when you are applying for grants or fundraising, so it’s useful to keep it all collated and up to date with most current versions – saves you a lot of time hunting around for documents at the last minute when you’re trying to meet deadlines.
And then there is all your IT requirements – is your IT up to date and running smoothly, is it secure, is it backed-up regularly, is your software updated, have you paid any required licenses, are you GDPR compliant?
The entire list of grunt work will depend very much on your own business and the stage that it is at. Take some time to think about all the things you may need to do and when they will need to be done. Don’t worry if you don’t know everything or have all the information at this stage, your knowledge of what needs to be done will build over time, the key is to think about it and start to tackle the grunt work.
So, how can you tackle this grunt work?
Firstly, make sure you set aside some time on a regular basis to do it – put it in your calendar and block the time out. You may be a Monday morning person or a Friday afternoon person, just decide what works best for you, and preferably do your grunt work weekly so it doesn’t get out of control and start to weigh on your mind.
Have a clear to do list – you may want to colour coordinate tasks into different sections such as money, IT, etc. – and put any key dates when tasks need to be done into your calendar. Break the bigger tasks into smaller tasks – it can often be easier to do one wee job in 15 minutes every day, rather than spend an entire day on it. And you are much less likely to put off doing a small task than a big one.
Some tasks will be weekly, some will be monthly, you will know what works best for your business. But please do your best do to do this grunt work consistently, ensure you back up your files regularly, and also that you have a Truck File – a file of all the key information you need to run your business – which you keep up to date.
And finally, once it’s all done, congratulate yourself with an uplifting treat! Bask in the glory of a job well done, safe and secure in the knowledge that your business is safe and secure.
When you start out in business you will probably have to do most of this work yourself, so try and make the most of inexpensive tools such as online accounting software e.g. QuickBooks or Free Agent – they can be a life-saver when it comes to tax time. When you have a bit more money available in your business you could also think about having a virtual personal assistant. They can do most of the grunt work for you, allowing you to focus on developing the business, but it’s still a good idea to do it yourself at the start to understand all that is involved before you pass it over to someone else.
An organised company is a happy company, so give your grunt work the attention it deserves!