If you’ve been running an office for a while, then you could probably sit down and create your own list of 20, 30, 50 or more tips on how to keep it running smoothly. The following happen to be eight of my own favourite tips. Granted, my seven-person facility can seem hectically busy to people visiting for the first time – but I promise you, there’s a method to the madness!
1. Create and stick to a set of office routines
This simply means having easy-to-follow routines for each one of your regular business activities, from handling mail and creating invoices, to having security rules and systems in place for your workplace computers.
2. Define responsibilities
Make sure everybody knows exactly what they are responsible for. This sounds easy, but too often responsibilities aren’t clearly stated or reviewed. Defined responsibilities ensure people know when and how to take the initiative on projects when no one is around to give guidance.
3. Keep an organized record of your business activities
Think of it as a diary of each day, in which you track your dealings with clients, prospects and projects.
4. Set specific times for drudge work — like filing and organizing expenses
Some work is simply more interesting and compelling than other work. It’s easy and tempting to get so focused on the interesting things that the dull but necessary ones get overlooked. For example, totalling your expenses can be tedious, but if you commit to doing it every Friday at 3 p.m., it’ll happen.
5. Don’t be afraid to outsource
There are outside sources for almost everything your business does or needs. Bring in outsiders – secretaries, bookkeepers, writers, IT consultants, designers, programmers – whenever you get overloaded with work, or if you simply need a fresh set of eyes on a project.
6. Regularly review your business or department costs
Look for ways to become more efficient and profitable. Look especially for ways to consolidate services and/or expenses.
7. Know the difference between price and cost
Going the cheap route doesn’t always save you money in the long run. For proof of that, see my blog article on the true costs of laser printer ownership.
8. Finally, don’t over-manage your people!
General George S. Patton, the famous American World War II commander, summed this concept up with two memorable quotes:
“If you tell people where to go, but not how to get there, you’ll be amazed by the results.”
“Don’t tell people how to do things. Tell them what you want to do and let them surprise you.”