Research conducted earlier this month by Sage revealed that the average UK SME spends 120 days a year on admin tasks alone, costing the economy an estimated £33.9 billion in total. Jahan Safdar, founder of all-in-one business management software Grow In Cloud, explores how small business owners can claim this time back.

In a further blow to the UK’s small business sector, recent figures from the Federation of Small Businesses revealed that in September SME confidence fell to its lowest level since immediately after last year’s EU referendum.

This is an enormous problem and threatens to damage the country’s reputation as a hub of business and innovation, as the administrative burden placed on startups and higher barriers to entry see many would-be entrepreneurs turn away from the prospect of starting their own business.

So how can SME owners liberate themselves from the daunting, time-consuming (and downright dull) day-to-day admin tasks that running a business entails? How can business owners make their time work better? And how can they get back to doing what they do best?

Hire the right people internallyStaff members that are capable of taking on multiple administrative tasks easily and without a great deal of training are worth their weight in gold. Deciding whether or not you need to employ a dedicated PA, office manager or admin assistant is a tough job in itself, but if you choose to do so - or decide to take on other members of staff whose responsibilities include specific administrative tasks - you’ll find your workload lightening considerably, allowing you to refocus your energies on the business itself.

Know when to outsource

There are certain tasks that you may not feel confident handling in-house; marketing and PR, for example, might not be your area of expertise. There are many jobs that external agencies might be better suited to handling, as professionals trained in these fields will be able to complete this work to a higher standard. Similarly, freelancers can be hired for specific projects, with services such as PeoplePerHour and Freelancer making the job of finding suitable short-term staff markedly easier.

Implement the right tech

There are all manner of tech solutions on the market to help your business run more smoothly. Both Slack and Trello are useful project management services that can give you oversight of your whole team’s workload and progress without the need for as many meetings or email updates.

Likewise, business management services such as Grow In Cloud can help you streamline the number of tools you need to subscribe to as it combines tasks such as invoicing, online appointment scheduling, and email/SMS marketing campaigns.

You should use technology discerningly, however; instant messaging services can become a large distraction in the office and prove to be counterproductive, for example. While the immediacy of such contact can seem like a blessing, it’s easy to become sidetracked from the original topic.

Leave the boring stuff to the pros

Payroll, pensions and tax - these three words could send most people to sleep. If you’re not clued-up in these areas, do yourself a favour and leave it the the experts. The maze of bureaucracy SMEs face can be overwhelming to say the least, and many small business owners simply don’t have the time to spend swotting up on complex tax issues. Fortunately there are a wide range of tech solutions on the market making pension and payroll much more manageable, or if you’d prefer to hand all of this straight over to a qualified professional there are a wealth of accountants who’d be more than happy to help.

Manage your own time

There may be certain tasks that you’re not comfortable passing over to another member of staff or someone externally. Work out which admin jobs you’ll need to complete on a weekly or monthly basis and set aside a specific timeframe in which to work on these jobs to ensure they don’t encroach on your more creative, challenging tasks.

Jahan Safdar, founder of Grow In Cloud, has over a decade of experience of starting and managing businesses. The all-in-one software streamlines the administrative burden placed on small businesses by combining processes such as appointment scheduling, invoicing tools, leads management and more under one roof in a user-friendly interface.