By Dennis O’Keefe

Your end of the year to-do list is a mile long. Between holiday sales, performance reviews, holiday parties, reviewing financial statements and juggling your employees’ vacation requests, you’re already stretched thin.

The last thing you think you have time for is a major change in your small business practices. But if you’re also struggling with internal business challenges – say, dealing with poor hiring decisions or a training process that is out of date – your business could be suffering. Here are 3 hurdles that you can tackle right away to get your small business on track before the year ends.

Hurdle #1: Spending too much time in your business

When you started your business, you probably had a hand in every aspect of its operation. As you’ve grown, your roles and responsibilities as the business owner have evolved, and the simple things, like administrative tasks, now take up valuable time. Statistics show that the average small business owner spends 68% of their time in their business, trying to handle everything themselves. But that time would be best spent on your business, looking at the bigger picture.

How to overcome it

Make a list of basic administrative tasks that can be performed by someone else. It may seem difficult to give up control, but here is a simple approach that could help:

Automate what you can

Tools like Workful can help you save time on running payroll and approving time off requests. It automates these processes, so you can set them up yourself and let them run, instead of doing it yourself or hovering over an employee’s shoulder. You’ll be able to get things done faster and get back to growing and improving your business.


Your employees may already have experience with these tasks. Give them the opportunity to use their existing skill set or gain new ones. Before you start delegating, work through these steps.

  1. Decide what you’re willing to delegate. Delegate tasks that you don’t have time for or are outside of your areas of expertise. Continue to perform the jobs that are crucial to your business’s success or that only you can do yourself.
  2. Select the employee you want to handle each task. Choose employees who want more responsibility and who you trust to make good decisions. Then, provide them with clear instructions and deadlines.
  3. Say, “Thank you.” You’re asking your employees to take on tasks outside of their job description, so don’t forget to thank them.

Ask for help

You’re not the first small business owner trying to spend more time on your small business. Ask other small business owners how they managed to get out of the paperwork weeds and start focusing on the bigger picture.

If you don’t know who to ask, check out the Small Business Administration (SBA). And make use of your local SCORE office.

Hurdle #2: Hiring the wrong staff

Hiring the right employees is critical to the success of your business. Good employees can take some things off your to-do list and build strong relationships with your customers and suppliers.

Hiring the wrong person, however, can have big consequences on every aspect of your business. Not only can the wrong person lower your team’s morale, but they can hurt your company’s productivity. And, you could end up spending 30% or more of that employee’s first-year earnings to correct the mistake.

How to overcome it

Standardize your interview process

Create a list of interview questions to ask each candidate you bring in. It will be easier to narrow your list of candidates if they’ve all answered the same questions. This will also make your decision easier because you will be able to directly compare each candidate.

Consider your culture

It’s arguably just as important to hire someone who fits your company’s culture as it is to hire someone with the right skills and qualifications. Make sure to ask your job candidates some questions that will help you determine if they’re a good fit for your team.

Take your time

If your small business team is overextended, you might feel pressured to hire someone quickly. But, rushing a hiring decision could lead to hiring the wrong person. Then you might have to go through the hiring process multiple times before you land on the right employee. Instead, take your time and hire the right person the first time.

Hurdle #3: Not putting enough effort into onboarding

Onboarding should extend longer than a new employee’s first week of work. It should be an ongoing process with regular check-ins to make sure your employee feels like part of the team and knows that the work they’re doing is contributing to your business’s success.

Your to-do list is already too long, so it’s easy to write off onboarding as unnecessary. But, a strong onboarding process can improve retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. By spending a little more time onboarding your new hires, you’ll end up saving time further down the road.

How to overcome it

Automate what you can

You don’t have to handle every part of onboarding personally. For example, filling out paperwork and sharing important company documents can be done with digital tools like Workful to make the process seamless.

Assign a mentor

You’ve spent a lot of time hiring the right staff, so let them help you. When you hire a new employee, assign a mentor to help them become part of the team and answer any questions they may have.

Employ these tips to help you close out the year on a strong foot and set up for success in the coming year.

Dennis O’Keefe is the Product Director for Workful, a new cloud-based human resources, payroll and POS employee management suite made for small businesses.  Dennis has a rich history in the payroll, banking and small business management space, with a specific passion for helping small business owners streamline financial and record keeping processes so they can get back to what they’d rather be doing, growing their business.

Business hurdles stock photo by Fred Ho/Shutterstock