HOW TO GET YOUR SMALL BUSINESS ORGANISED
Updated: Mar 5
We all know that running a small business is hard work – trying to promote and grow your business, make a profit and keep employees and clients happy! However, it can be easy to let standards slip if you let things ‘drift along’ for too long and if you don’t keep on top of the basics, things could spiral out of control. That’s why, from time to time, business owners should take a moment to step back and look at how to run their business more efficiently and effectively to keep things on track.
Getting your business organised involves a lot more than just getting rid of clutter and neatening stacks of papers! Having said that, paper can be the biggest source of chaos in many offices. It is therefore important to review what types of documents you should keep and what needs recycling or shredding. You can then create a filing system that makes it quick and easy for you and your employees to find documents; arranging paperwork into areas such as legal, finance, clients etc and clearly labelling them can save valuable time when you need to dig something out.
If space is tight and clutter is causing a distraction to running your business, it might be the time to start moving towards a more paperless office. Creating a digital filing system may be a daunting prospect to start with, but as well as being better for the environment, it can save you time and money in the long term. Think how much we spend each month on ink, paper, postage and other office supplies or the man hours shuffling through a disorganised stack of paper to find that one elusive document!
Cloud-based accounting and bookkeeping tools can work wonders to get your books organised without the long and arduous process of sifting through paperwork. They integrate right into your accounts and match transactions up with your entries – there are many tools out there (some of which are free), but try looking at Quickbooks online, Xero or Wave.
If you decide to ‘digitize’ and move more towards a more paperless business, it is important to ensure that you have a system for backing-up and protecting data in case your system crashes – digital may be quick access, but that can also mean quick loss! Security is also a consideration as digital files can’t be protected by a locked filing cabinet, so make sure you look into encryption or restricted access to files.
As well as organizing your paper documents into an efficient system, it is also important to keep on top of the clutter on your computer desktop! Take some time at least once a month to clear your deleted items and junk folder. Consider if you need to keep all your sent items – file those that you might need to refer back to and delete the rest. Many small business owners do the bulk of their work on the computer and it doesn’t take long for your desktop to become full of icons and your downloads folder to become cluttered with documents you no longer need (or wanted in the first place!). This can slow down your computer’s performance considerably – so be as ruthless as you can with unnecessary items.
We tend to have favourite apps and tools that we use – but take time to consider whether they all meet your business needs? It can be tempting to get sucked into using apps that are just a ‘latest fad’ and don’t really improve your business’s organisation – so take stock of all your tools and apps and decide what is or isn’t adding real value for you and your business.
To help you to organise, prioritise and complete the most important things you need to achieve in your business, get into the habit of writing a to-do list for the next working day – and actually use it! Jot down everything that needs to be done – it doesn’t have to be in any particular order to start with. Then group similar tasks that could potentially be completed together. Organise your list according to priority level – and if needs be create smaller to-do lists under larger tasks. Mark things off as they are finished – you will feel a great sense of accomplishment to visually see a list of tasks with tick marks! A lot of people still prefer good old pen and paper for to-do lists for this very reason, but cloud-based apps like Todoist are also a great way to organise your tasks, even when you’re on the go.
Overall it is important to be aware of how fast things can get out of control – so to keep your small business organised make sure you regularly conduct a review of your papers, apps, tools and computer status. This will prevent things from reaching overwhelming levels of disorganisation and keep you on track and focussed.