Automate As Much As Possible
When you are starting up a business, automate as much as you can. You’ll have enough headaches along the way even if you automate everything, so save yourself some trouble up front and automate as much as you can figure out how to automate. Here are some examples:
Set up your payroll to be automatically sent out every two weeks. There are some online services for this, or you can simply outsource it to your accountant.
Use a software based calendaring system to remind you about everything you have going on. Not just the usual stuff such as meetings and dentist appointments, but also about writing blog posts, changing the oil in your car, and to check in on new employees once in a while.
If you can write code, then write code to automate as many tasks as you can. For example, I write Perl programs that automatically bill my customers, automatically cross post this blog post to other feeds, to automatically collect and analyze hundreds of data points from my various businesses so I can make better decisions, and to automatically remind my employees when they go to order some supplies that there are other supplies from that same vendor that are getting low (which saves time and shipping fees).
If you can’t write code, there are a ton of coders out there who will write some for you; and in many cases you can even find prepackaged systems that will do all kinds of stuff for you. Check sites like appstorm.net for ideas.
You can also often negotiate things with your suppliers in advance (if you have suppliers). For example, to get better pricing on some things that I have manufactured for my businesses I’ll buy 10,000 units instead of the 1,000 that I actually need each month. Then I pay the manufacturer a tiny warehousing fee to hold on to and ship 1,000 units to me every month. The cost of getting a small amount manufactured each month is far more than getting a larger bulk manufactured in advance plus paying the warehousing fee. And because this arrangement is set up and recurring, the new shipment shows up at my loading dock each month without me doing anything.
Learn to automate everything, and you’ll have more time to deal with the things that really need your attention.
[From my blog.]