You’re finally doing it, building your own business! It’s exciting and a lot of work. There’s so much to keep track of, and you want to do it well. Here we’re talking about how to organize your small business and help you run it like a well-oiled machine.
Managing Space & Storage
Your workspace will directly impact your productivity and how you feel about your business. Even if your space is limited, it can be managed to be all you need it to be.
On Your Desk
We make light-hearted jokes about a cluttered desk, but the truth is it will hinder your focus. Decide on a layout that suits you. If there’s a computer, it should be centered on your desk and raised to eye-level. Only items you use frequently should adorn the top of your desk (and on your dominant side), with other items packed neatly away in your desk drawers.
On Your Office Floor
The office floor needs to be kept tidy and clutter-free. Make sure that everything in your office has a home. If you can’t assign it a home, question whether you need it at all.
Look for ways to expand your space by going upwards. Vertical storage, like wall-mounted shelves, is a creative solution to space issues.
Set aside time at the end of each week to tidy your office. Any mounting mess should be handled regularly, so the office always reflects the clarity of your business.
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Go Digital on Work Documents
Of all the things that can quickly get out of control in your office, paper is at the top of the list. The over-stuffed file cabinet and messy inboxes may have been a feature in the offices of old, but they don’t have to be in yours. Evaluate the paper, magazines, cards, and notes you have and divide them into two piles – keep and shred/recycle.
After you’ve dealt with the shred/recycle items, look at your keep pile. Strongly consider going paperless. Invest in a reliable scanner and keep digital scans of your documents. There are great apps available for storing the files or just download them onto your computer. Learn how to develop a document management system, so you stay organized. It’s better for your office and the environment.
Invest in Productivity Tools
Productivity tools are a good investment of your time and resources. Evaluate the areas you need support; there’s sure to be an app for that.
A few areas you may consider investment:
- Social Media Management
- Email Management
- Travel and Expense Tracking
- Contact Management
- Accounts and Bookkeeping
- Project Management
Regularly evaluate whether you have the right tools – what you may need to take on board and what you may have outgrown.
Plan Ahead with a To-Do List
Create a to-do list for what must be done each day. At first, treat your list like a brain-dump. Just put everything you can think of that needs doing on your list. Then group related items together. Next, organize your items in order of priority, with the most critical first. If necessary, create smaller to-do lists under items on your original list.
Make sure you mark things off as you do them. The sense of accomplishment will motivate you to complete your whole list. This old-school method of productivity can be shockingly effective, but only when we follow through.
Related: How to Create an Email List from Excel
Manage Your Time
We’re capable of accomplishing so much in one 24-hour period, so why don’t we? Time gets away from us, but it doesn’t have to. Keep the following methods in mind to master your time:
- Multitask with the mundane. For instance, while driving or otherwise commuting to work, do small tasks like responding to calls and emails, or deleting unnecessary emails.
- Find the unproductive things you do that absorb so much of your time. Then schedule them out of your life.
- Look for apps to keep track of your time on various projects.
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Organize Your Computer
Though the clutter here isn’t readily seen by anyone else, it is still a hindrance to performance. Clear away desktop icons littering the screen. Keep the ones you use most. Organize your downloads into folders for a cleaner look. A digital filing system will look and feel more professional.
Update your computer software regularly and scan for viruses and other performance issues. Ensure that your data backup is up to snuff and then tackle the monster of your email inbox. Delete unwanted emails, use separate emails for business and personal use, and employ automation where possible.
Take Mini-Breaks for Productivity
Take brief mini-breaks throughout the day. Research has shown that our productivity can be enhanced by taking a short break from our work every few hours. A walk around the block or even a short nap is effective in resetting the mind and mood. Relaxing and social breaks were found especially helpful when work is becoming stressful and focus difficult. The short periods of detachment from work during the day could mean less recovery time needed after work.
Learn to Manage Your Expense Reports & Receipts
Managing your receipts and expense reports can be a hassle, but you’ll have to come to terms with it. A well-organized system will help you stay up to date with your taxes and keep all your finances under control.
You need to keep track of weekly expenses, recording every transaction and documenting your receipts. Create files for each vendor and keep track of unpaid bills. There is software that can manage these for you.
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Virtualize & Manage Customer Support
Consider incorporating AI in your customer support. Answering customer questions can be a big job, why not delegate it to a chatbot? Using the Facebook Messenger platform, services like Chatfuel, Botsify, and Sequel can help you make your chatbot and handle your customers like the big companies. They can answer FAQs, take feedback, and accept payments 24/7.
Keep in Touch with Associates, Employees, and Customers
Keeping track of leads, payments, and customers can feel like a full-time job all on its own. Being disorganized with any of this will cost you dearly. Successful small businesses use customer relationship management (CRM) apps. Apps like Keap will help you stay on top of overdue notices, customer questions, and much more.
Operating a small business can be overwhelming, but utilizing these strategies will help it to be a little less stressful. Having a mindset for productivity, employing a few reliable systems, and using productivity software wherever you can, will make all the difference.