How great would it be if you could put many key aspects of running your business on auto-pilot so you could instead focus on the parts of the business that drive growth. According to the research from The Alternative Board, most entrepreneurs are not able to. Instead, the average entrepreneurs spend nearly 70 percent of their time putting out fires or doing other day-to-day tasks. Only some 30 percent of time is spent for long-term goals or planning. To shift this imbalance, entrepreneurs can do many things to put their businesses on autopilot. You can’t ever truly be on full autopilot for most things required to run a business. But, there are three main things you can do to free more time to focus on the business functions that matter most to you.
Records and Document Management
Automate your paperwork. Research from the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) illustrates many businesses see this as a central opportunity. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed have records and document management projects already in process and more than 80% have plans to do so. Capturing paperwork as digital documents has long proven for many businesses to lead to greater efficiencies. Once digitized, you can easily auto-archive and group documents, making it easier and faster to later recall relevant files. With an effective document management application, you can also auto route documents to people, to storage locations, and more. You can even set reminders about what to do with documents – when one needs renewed or updating, for example. Further AIIM research shows half of businesses surveyed stated alerts and notifications are a mandatory requirement for any business process management solution they might choose. You can imagine the time-savings from not having to deal with as much paperwork or its many requirements. You’ll want to make sure you can do this across the various devices you use: in addition to your desktop or laptop, this may include your smartphone or tablet, your scanner and even a webcam to capture files. Today you can automate a lot of paperwork processing regardless of where you are, out and about or at the office. Paperwork is likely the biggest headache for a business. It’s no wonder that AIIM also found that 92 percent of organizations say that removing paper from business processes is a constant objective.
According to the SCORE Association, HR work consumes 25-35% of a small business owner’s time and another 7-25% of time is spent handling employee paperwork. You can incorporate a lot of your HR processes with your records management. This includes employee recruitment and on-boarding steps. The larger the business gets, the more time can be spent doing HR and on-boarding procedures. Instead, use software to help do usual tasks, such as assigning equipment, access rights, and more. There are many other HR areas that can be automated, such as timesheets. Good software can help automate validation and approval steps that can save hours per month. Use of smart tools for recruitment efforts can also save a lot of time. Software promises to be effective at pre-screening would-be employees that can save cycles upon cycles of resume reviews and interviews. HR software is around a $15 billion-dollar industry for a lot of reasons. It’s obviously an essential business process but, also one that is time-consuming. Many industry analysts say a reinvention of HR software is underway. According to Deloitte, much of this change is to embrace mobile platforms. While it’s unknown how much of a time-saver this might be for doing HR tasks, it certainly adds flexibility in when and where you can do it.
FinTech is also an essential area to automate, if not to save time to save morale. Also according to SCORE, 40 percent of small business owners said bookkeeping and taxes are the worst part of owning a business. So, automate as much in accounting technology as you can. Today’s leading accounting software already automates much of the recording, classification, and summarizing of bank transactions. So, if you’re not leveraging these capabilities, start here. Like almost every other software platform, accounting software is increasingly cloud and mobile-based too. So, again, while this may or may not save time in accounting it can add flexibility in when and where you do your accounting. An APQC survey recently revealed that the amount of money an organization spends to process accounts payable depends on manual processes. The need for manual intervention increases labor costs at around 62 percent of total accounts payable costs. Much of this stems from data errors in purchase orders, shipping or receiving documents, and invoices. So, adopting best practices for correct data entry – or its automation – can keep time spent down. Yes, it’s impossible to not tend to accounting, HR and paperwork needed to run a business. As a result, billions of dollars are spent annually on software to help manage it all. If this is leveraged effectively, business operational efficiencies can be realized to allow entrepreneurs to instead focus most of their time on business aspects that affect their bottom line, such as sales, marketing and planning.