20/10/2014

By Raj Sond, General Manager, First Data Merchant Solutions


Many people start their own business because they want a new way of life. The appeal of following a dream and being your own boss are key motivators behind taking the brave step of going it alone. A YouGov poll on behalf of First Data Merchant Solutions, reinforced these beliefs: 44% of small business owners set up because they “wanted more flexible working hours”, with 49% of individuals starting their own company due to their “desire to be in control”.

However, these hopes and expectations can be a far cry from the reality of setting up and running a business. In many cases, small business owners become preoccupied with daily admin tasks, and this increased workload forces them to miss significant personal events. The survey also uncovered that 44% of owners have missed personal occasions because they are too busy running the company. Nearly a fifth of key decision makers have missed the school run, and 11% have missed anniversary celebrations with partners. Even more shocking, one owner sacrificed being present at the birth of their own child!

In many cases time spent on the tasks involved in the daily running of the company, including admin and management duties is the key reason behind sacrifices on social life.

32% found that managing staff is a challenging and time consuming task, whilst 25% spend a great deal of their time on accounting and finance. Rather than living that dream that they were once so passionate about, over a fifth of decision makers claim to spend an average of 10 hours per day on “behind the scenes” admin tasks. These mundane activities mean that the excitement of starting a business becomes more of a distant memory than a reality, as owners find themselves battling with workload.

While delegating these tasks to employees seems an obvious way of minimising workload, and achieving the flexible hours desired, 37% of decision makers worry about handing over control; half are concerned that accidental errors will be made in in their absence. As such, small business owners are stuck in a lose-lose battle, struggling to manage the business, whilst finding it difficult to delegate.

Most worryingly, due to the time taken up carrying out these “behind the scenes” tasks, business owners are struggling to focus on finding ways to grow and expand their businesses. In fact, 27% of decision makers said that if they were given an extra hour in the working day they would spend this time identifying new ways to expand their business.

With the main motivator behind starting a business being the appeal of flexible hours and control, the aforementioned challenges suggest a healthy balance is not being achieved. Indeed, if businesses are more often than not born from a spark of real passion for something it is of upmost importance that this enthusiasm isn’t inhibited.

With this in mind small business owners should look to technology to assist them an engage with integrated software that can help them with these often time-consuming administrative activities. Bespoke applications can support tasks such as managing employees, accepting and tracking payments and building lasting customer relationships in one streamlined place, affording small business owners more time to focus on growing their business and building on that initial spark to make their business dream a reality.