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Small business owners wasting time on administrative tasks, research finds

Friday, 14 June 2013 | By Yolanda Redrup

Australian small business owners spend on average one third of their time dealing with administrative tasks, rather than focusing on the core of their business, according to research published this week.


The recent study commissioned by small business accounting services firm Intuit Australia found tasks such as recording transactions, completing the BAS and tax reporting and paying bills and wages were the main tasks which consumed the most time.


More than 750 small business owners completed the survey and 57% of the business owners ranked keeping a record of transactions as the task which required the most time.


Small businesses with multiple employees, or those which bought into an existing business or franchise were also found to spend the most time on these tasks.


Intuit Australia director of accountant strategy Rich Walker told SmartCompany administrative tasks often detract from other more important jobs.


"Given most small business owners (55%) branch out to capitalise on a skill or field of expertise they have, administrative tasks take time away from their core business or expertise.


"There are mobile payments apps and technologies that small business owners can access from a smartphone or mobile device to help streamline payments for goods and services, this helps save time as they can complete the transaction immediately rather than invoicing at a later date, which could result in extra time chasing payments," he says.


The survey found 21% of small business owners ranked chasing up payments as a time consuming task.


Out of the respondents, 77% said they would find it useful to be able to access work files remotely, with most saying this would be most useful from home, when on the move, on holidays or with clients.


"The high penetration of mobile technologies here in Australia is already creating a trend of more people and businesses moving to the cloud.


"Whether it's for accepting payments online, doing their books and finances, communicating with customers by email or selling goods and services through a website, small businesses are hungry for the flexibility," Walker says.


As well as detailing which administrative tasks consume the most time for small business owners, the survey also provided a snap shot of Australian small businesses.


The majority of small business owners said they created their business to capitalise on their own expertise and skill set, with 24% said they wanted to be self-employed and have the opportunity to do something which they love and 7% bought into an existing business and had to learn the skills to run it.


One in three small business owners quit their job to start a business, 30% created their company on the side to their main employment and 12% became self-employed after being made redundant from another role.


When it came to embracing technology, 87% of small business owners used some form of mobile technology in their business, with laptops and smartphones the preferred devices, with Gen Y business owners more likely to use smartphones and tablets.


This story first appeared on SmartCompany.