You love your small business, right? Your friends envy you. After all, every day, you get to do something you love, work with people you’ve chosen, set your own hours. It’s paradise, correct? C’mon, you and I both know the truth—running a small business also means dealing with a whole bunch of not-so-sexy stuff.
Here’s the dirty little secret of small business success: no matter how great your idea, how revolutionary your product, how inspiring you are as a leader—your success also depends on taking care of mundane day-to-day stuff, the “business” side of business.
As a business owner myself, I know this stuff isn’t fun. I hate choosing insurance policies, determining how much inventory to re-order, negotiating leases. It’s a lot more interesting to be thinking up new products or launching a new marketing idea.
Sure, you can delegate many things. And sure, you can use software to make some tasks much less onerous (thank you Quickbooks Online Payroll). But even if you have a partner or great employees, you have to take care of some business stuff yourself.
There’s just no getting around it: some stuff in business isn’t fun. But it’s necessary all the same. Here are eight not-so-sexy tasks you have to do in your small business:
- Make sales: Some people love making sales, but many small business owners will do just about everything except make a sales call. Some of the most important sales only you can do, no matter how good your sales team. You don’t have salespeople? Then making sales is a critical part of your job as owner. Pick up that phone.
- Do the job: Sure, once again, some business owners love doing the work their customers pay them to do—cut their hair, landscape their garden, write their will. But for many other business owners, actually doing the day-to-day work gets repetitive. They want to be building new products, expanding to new markets, even getting out on the golf course. Whether you’re a lawyer or landscaper, you actually have to get the work done.
- Send out invoices: You can’t get paid if you don’t send your client or customer a bill. But, and I know this is hard to believe, many small business owners wait months before sending invoices. I’ve had at least two wonderful contractors I’ve had to push to send me invoices—even over a year late. Send invoices on time. Period.
- Pay bills: I used to be terrible at paying my bills on time. I knew I had a problem, so I got a bookkeeper. You don’t necessarily need a bookkeeper, but you do need a system. Get a good bookkeeping program (Quickbooks, Xero, FreshBooks). Set up autopay on recurring expenses (set to pay the minimum if cash is tight). Get a fool-proof system to pay the rest of your bills—on time. Small business owners need a good credit rating, and you’ll have a better credit rating if you pay on time even if you maintain fairly high balances.
- Process paperwork: This is the worst. Every business has a whole bunch of paperwork, even if the “paper” comes electronically. Did you sign that contract? Send the insurance form back? And, most importantly, pay your taxes? What’s lurking under that pile of paper on your desk? Pour yourself a big cup of coffee and just do it.
- Communicate: Staying in touch with your customers and your employees is a key part of your job as the company’s leader. You may be working hard on a client’s project, but if they don’t hear from you, they’ll think you’re at the beach. Try Insightly, Apptivo, or Zoho CRM to manage communications with customers.
- Spend time hiring: The success of your business depends on the quality of your employees. Don’t rush when filling openings. Take your time to make sure if an applicant is the right fit for you, not just their skills but their attitude and personality. Check references thoroughly.
- Go to work, day in and day out: There’s no getting around it—the work won’t get done unless someone does it. You’ve got to show up to succeed. That’s the most basic business task of all.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2018
This article originally ran in USA Today on January 31, 2018