Bureaucracy in Small Business 6 Most Common Issues and How to Avoid Them

There are several reasons why small businesses fail – including some reasons that you might never have thought about. Poor sales, mismanagement, or debt seem to be pretty obvious ones. But did you know that bureaucracy can also be the reason for a small business to close?

Small business owners tend to spend anywhere from 40 to 60 hours per week working. However, only a portion of it is spent on performing their business’s core activity. The majority of their time is consumed by bureaucracy, which in most cases is the reason for the owner’s business-related stress. 

Bureaucracy in Small Business 6 Most Common Issues and How to Avoid Them

One of the main things that need to be done in order to stop bureaucracy from monopolizing our time is to eliminate the issues that cause it. 


It can’t be helped – sometimes it happens. Not all of your employees are the greatest people out there. Some of them may be lazy, dishonest, and some may even steal.

For this reason, a certain amount of vigilance is needed. Business owners and managers feel they need to keep a close eye on their employees. But this can lead to a whole infrastructure of processes and procedures – bureaucracy.

Finding the right balance of trust and vigilance is quite a feat. A lot of trust issues can be avoided at the outset, during the recruitment process.

Also Read: 3 Steps To Build Up A Financial Cushion

Too Many Meetings

Meetings are essential for team communication and for better organization, but you need to make sure that you don’t have too many of them. Having only a few is enough, but overdoing it can cause your small business to fail. Simply put: don’t add meetings on top of meetings. 

Your employees need time to work, and if they spend most of it at meetings, they won’t be able to do much else. Not only that, but this can cause you to miss deadlines and make mistakes – and nobody wants that. Just make sure that each meeting is productive and consists of the right people, so you won’t have to deal with this issue.

Too Many Platforms and Devices to Juggle

With all the advancements in technology we’ve been experiencing lately, it can be quite tempting to opt into every platform and tool that promises to make our work easier. The end result is that we aren’t spending time working but rather spending time logging in to platforms, learning how to use them, and customizing them.

It’s true that some apps are very useful at streamlining – we can do our banking online, we can make purchases with a simple click, our phones can be converted into fax machines – but we need to be judicious as to what platforms and what apps are truly necessary for our job.

Otherwise, we’ve only gone from physical bureaucracy to virtual bureaucracy. And that doesn’t solve the underlying problem.

Low Level of Employee Satisfaction

Every small business owner has probably heard the phrase “a happy employee is a productive employee.” And although it’s true, the inverse is also true – “a disgruntled employee is not likely to be very productive.” 

Poor employee performance can also be the reason for your small business to fail. And, at its cause is often low employee satisfaction. This is not something you will be able to prevent completely. There will always be people who just don’t like their job or their boss. 

While there are steps you can take to improve employee morale, your best bet is to stop this problem from happening in the first place. For that, you need to pay extra attention to happiness and a positive attitude in the candidate during the recruiting process.

Poor Communication With Employees

Not communicating with your employees can be devastating for both them and your business. In most cases when communication is poor in a business, it results in a lack of trust and poor employee attitude. Talking with your employees is important. But sometimes it’s more important to listen.

Create an environment where employees feel free to express themselves, share their concerns and ideas for improvement.

Making your communication a 2-way street will go a long way towards improving, not only the communication but employee morale and in consequence employee productivity.

Too Many Chefs in the Kitchen

Receiving direction is a good thing. But receiving direction from multiple sources, and in sometimes contradicting terms, is not.

This can have the effect of paralyzing an employee. He or she doesn’t know what to do or how to go about doing it. Invariably, this will lead to frustration and poor productivity.

Having too many chefs in the kitchen is also a clear indication that something is not right with your company’s organization. It can be a symptom that not enough trust has been established or that your employees don’t feel encouraged to take initiative.

Hesitation in Delegating Tasks

The old adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself” might be applicable in some situations. However, if you are running a small business, doing everything yourself will have you end up in the looney bin. Also, it’s a clear indication that not enough trust has been established with your employees.

The new adage, for people who run a small business, should be – “If you want something done right, make your instructions clear and empower the people you trust to get it done right.” 

Also Read: A Short Guide On How To Start A Business 


Bureaucracy often boils down to replacing trust and confidence with systems and procedures. Invariably, we find that these are poor substitutes. Before your small business is smothered by the suffocating effects of bureaucracy, take some time to evaluate where you’ve gone wrong. 

Bureaucracy is like mold, its tendency is to grow and consume everything it comes into contact with. But, like mold, it can be scrubbed clean. Time to roll up the sleeves and do some cleaning.

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