HR · 15 September 2016

Startup growth stalled by founders’ “DIY attitude” to admin

brainstorm
No longer brainstorming, startup founders are instead choosing day-to-day administrative tasks

Small and micro business owners are increasingly sacrificing time for creative thinking at their firm by taking a “do it yourself” approach to administration, new research has found.

According to online bookkeeping platform Geniac, 61 per cent of smaller UK business owners conduct administrative tasks themselves, filling up their working day dealing with issues including legal matters, account handling and basic HR.

As such, startup founders struggle to make time to think creatively and strategically about how to grow their business.

Brainstorming – a method often used by small teams to think critically about how to tackle specific tasks – was found to have been neglected by a third of founders, while 28 per cent failed to spend time working on new business proposals or developing new products. A similar proportion failed to spend time with their customers.

Overall business growth amongst startups is suffering as a result. As many as 73 per cent of small and micro company owners surveyed said they thought their venture would grow at a faster rate if they spent less time on administrative tasks.

Commenting on the findings, Geniac co-founder Mike Galvin said: “What can seem like a cost-cutting exercise on paper can quickly become an expensive mistake. A business owner should be doing what they do best, solving core business issues and not being distracted by admin overload.”

This administrative burden could be contributing to the overall health of business owners themselves. Last year, a study from Worldpay revealed that 70 per cent of business owners in the UK didn’t believed their work-life balance was unhealthy, with one in five claiming not to have taken a week’s holiday in ten years.

Psychologist Gary Wood, who worked closely with Geniac on the firm’s research, said that business owners needed to become more organised – de-cluttering their schedules to make the most of their time.

Wood added: “Instead of trying to be an all-rounder, play to your strengths rather than using up energy on the things you’re not so good at.

“Our brains work better when we concentrate on one thing at a time. It’s difficult for your brain to switch into creative mode when you’re worrying about balancing the next spreadsheet or a looming contract deadline.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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