For those of us who are starting any type of business, online or “offline” with limited resources we often find ourselves being Administrator, Secretary, IT guy and Executive all at the same time. The administration department keeps the business together by handling everyday issues which must be addressed by the business in order to remain functional (such as billing, security, human resources or just answering the phone) but at the same time angle far away from the actual services the business provides. The role of admin is therefore extremely important and cannot be discounted. It is also very time consuming, especially if you’re just starting out like I am and sort of playing it by ear and learning as you go. Unfortunately this reduces the amount of time you have to do things that are pertinent to the development of the product or service that you are providing and you find yourself at the end of the day wondering where the day went and feeling horribly unaccomplished.
So we’ve got to find a way to handle our administrative responsibilities as best we could and as timely as possible. If proper administrative techniques or procedures are put in place one can really reduce the amount of time spent on them and return to our primary products and services. Below I have highlighted three administrative areas I think can be drastically improved through the use of proper software (Open Source of course!).
Billing and Accounting
Some of us are lucky (or unlucky) enough to have reached a stage where we need to keep better accounts. No matter how small an income you may be generating a track record of your accounts is very important. Every business needs to know how much it is spending and how much it is earning, how much it owes and how much is owed to it. The big names in this industry are of course Quickbooks, Sage and Microsoft Money.
My Open Source recommendations are TurboCash and Compiere. Both are capable of doing everything the proprietary guys can do with the added bonus of them being FREE. Having a proper billing and accounting system set up will save a lot of time especially if you have different streams of revenue; everything should be consolidated and you can more easily track your progress as your business grows.
I’m a procrastinator. I live by it, it’s my addiction. I’m sure a number of you can relate to that, tomorrow always seems like a better time to do things. As I get deeper and deeper into my entrepreneurial ventures putting things off is very unhealthy. Fabian from Small Fish Big Money did an excellent post the other day on effective time management strategies. I suggest taking a look at it, It is well detailed and very helpful.
I have found myself some days spending quite a bit of time just figuring out what to do next. This method results in a lot of things slipping my mind and I have to put it off further and further each time. As much as us procrastinators may hate it, scheduling and time management are important and they work well, at least much better than our current system.
The type of time management and scheduling may vary according to the type of services you provide but the core of it is very much the same. I essentially try to set goals and time frames in order to achieve these goals by; which are a good initial steps but I still have to work on my day to day scheduling a little better. My Open Source recommendation is Open Workbench. This is essentially an alternative to Microsoft Project and it’s very good for long term projects you may have. I think this in conjunction with a similar day to day schedule that you will see if you check out Fabian’s post will help you find a good balance.
When I say correspondence I mean the communication that takes place between a business and its contacts. You have to listen to your customers, clients, readers colleagues, whichever fits best. But at the same time, correspondences can be quite time consuming and you might find yourself losing the day answering emails and returning phone calls. This ties in closely to scheduling. It is much easier with emails of course to simply check ones email at a specified time each day or each week and similarly schedule a time to respond to all.
This communication is very important as I’ve come to realise. The input from the outside is invaluable as we may not always see it from the same perspective as others.
Well that’s it; I hope you have enjoyed my post and found it useful somehow. Thanks for reading.