Simplified Office: The Basics

Simplified Office Series Post 1 w logoBack Office =The physical or virtual office in which the administrative work of a business is carried out.

Can we be honest and say that most people hate dealing with the back office portion of their business.

Part of the issue is that we often view back office work as only dealing with annoying administrative tasks, but the truth is, the back office is what runs your business.  

Think of it like this: The back office is the engine (the guts) to your car.  It is what makes the car run.  The better you take care of the engine, the better performing your car will be.

Two Cars w logo

Time after time I have worked with clients who, for one reason or another, failed to tend to the engine of their business from the beginning.  What resulted, was wasted time and energy looking for needed information, that was not in the right place or useful at the right time.   The resulting mess required hours, weeks and sometimes months of clean up.

But that’s not what I want for you.  There is a way to run your back office simply and efficiently.  Ways that help build and fuel your business, instead of slowing killing it from the inside.

But I will warn you. It comes with hard work.   You have to be willing to be consistent and vigilant about the details.  (So if you’re not about the details, there may come a point where it is wiser to hire that detail oriented person – but that’s a later post).  Is your business worth that kind of time and attention?  I hope you think so.

Here are some first action steps (and questions to ask) to start simplifying your back office.

  • Make A Plan
    •  What is the current state of your back office? (Get gut level honest here – it’s important)
    • What does your ideal back office look like when it is running well?
    • What do you need to do to accomplish a well run back office?
    • Set a time to get started and then stick to that plan.
  •  Clean up your desk:
    • It can be difficult to get a handle on your back office if your desk is a mess.  Start by sorting the items on your desk; pens, paperclips, paper, books etc.Once you sort out the things on your desk, find a home for those items.  If the items are no longer needed, consider donating them to the thrift store if they are still in good condition.
  • Sort out the papers:
    • I realize you may be groaning over this one, but the papers will not go away on their own.  We must deal with ALL aspects of our business, including the paperwork.  Sort them by vendor, expense, banking, taxes, insurance, etc.
    • Once you have them sorted, determine if the paperwork needs immediate attention, filed in the current year files, or if they should be filed, boxed and stored.
  • Pace Yourself:
    • Remember – Your back office did not get this way overnight (often it creeps up on us slowly) therefore, you will not be able to fix it overnight.  Have patience with yourself and pace yourself.  Set aside an 1/2  hour a day to work on your back office, and over time these small steps will accumulate and make a huge difference.

This week I challenge you to take time to make a plan. Once you have the plan in place, set aside 1/2 hour (or more) each day and focus on cleaning up your desk and sorting out your papers.   Remember to pace yourself.  Progress will come if you remain consistent.

Next week we will begin to talk about key functions of the back office and how to successfully navigate these important aspects of your business.

Do you have specific challenge and/or question about your back office?  Feel free to submit them HERE and I will get back to you with my thoughts and possible solutions.

Keeping it Simple,

~Victoria

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11 replies
  1. Cristina
    Cristina says:

    How do you file your vendor documents? Sorted by vendor, is a given; however, do you put documents in binders or file cabinet and how long do you retain the records? Thanks! Great post!

    Reply
    • Victoria Mininger
      Victoria Mininger says:

      Christina – Excellent questions. I keep vendor files in a filing cabinet in alphabetical order for the current year. If keeping them in binders is easier for your business, that is perfectly fine as well. At the close of the year I take the vendor files and place them in manilla folders, label them and then place them in banker boxes for storage. I then label the box by the year (Vendor Files, 2015). Records should be retained for 7 years at least. Tax records, business minutes, records pertaining to purchase of business property etc. should be retained based on IRS period of limitations expiration for those documents.

      Reply
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