We've all seen that classic image of a desk piled with paperwork and a white flag-bearing arm sticking out from the depths If you're running your own business, you can probably relate. Okay, far from piles of paper, you're probably dealing in digital files, but the outcome is the same – a whole lot of work that you don't even know how to start tackling.
It's a common business problem and, left unchecked, it can cause significant setbacks and may even prevent you from upscaling your business as you would like. Hence why, even if your 'paperwork mountain' is out of sight, you'll want to scale it sooner rather than later to make your life and your prospects easier moving forward.
But how can you do that if you've left things unchecked for so long that you daren't even open the drawer (or file, or wherever) where you keep all this stuff? Well, you take a deep breath, prepare yourself mentally for the climb, and then you put one foot in front of the other in the following ways.
Step 1 - Outsource your accounting
The vast majority of your paperwork is likely related to accounts somehow, (invoices, payslips, expense receipts, etc.) and, while you might be able to log one thing at a time on your free phone app, a mountain of receipts, invoices, and all the rest is a different matter. This is why over 80% of small businesses use Intuit's QuickBooks accounting software or similar scalable solutions instead, and a trained accountant is the best way for you to join that well-justified bandwagon. This, and the fact that bringing someone else on board means you can quite literally offload your mountain, makes it worthwhile outsourcing accounts as soon as you can to start chipping away at that growing workload.
Step 2 - Delegate tasks as they arrive in your inbox
Paperwork mountains only happen if you put tasks off, so avoiding that avoidance can prevent you from having to scale anything. When you have a team behind you, especially, there's no excuse for not delegating tasks as they arrive to save you from worrying. So, set aside half an hour or so each morning to go through your inbox and send tasks to the relevant people. You would be amazed at how much difference this can make to the ever-growing 'to-do' pile, ensuring that you keep tasks, and files, moving freely around your organization at all times.
Step 3 - Categorize moving forward
Companies should aim to keep hold of things like invoices and receipts for legal and accounting reasons and, often, this is where things build up. Luckily, you can still prevent these more permanent kinds of data from snowballing by categorizing what you’ve got. Far from the overwhelming and frankly un-useful overload of information you've been dealing with, putting files in the relevant folders means that you'll know where everything is and why it needs to be there. Thus, your paperwork mountain will become a small hill at best, and one that even you can easily climb.
Image by Karolina Grabowska: CC0 License
Image by Anete Lusina: CC0 License