If you want to build and improve your small business in 2021 and beyond, you have to start off on the right foot. This means being organized and productive. Even the best ideas will fail if you do not have control over the process. Big organizations, despite having more employees, are generally much easier to organize simply because they have larger budgets and can often devote a person or a team to organizing and keeping track of what is going on.
How then, do you go about making sure your small business is organized and everyone is doing what they should be when they should be when you are working with a small budget, and when you have a limited number of employees?
Here, we take a look at some of the things that you should be doing to stay on top of things in your small business.
Sort out your small business space
A tidy and comfortable office or workspace will boost productivity right away. A messy and cluttered environment will make finding things much harder, which leads to a loss of productivity. Make sure everything has it’s own space. This can be a box, cabinet, a shelf – even a neat pile on your desk. have a clear labelling format, so you can identify things easily, without pulling out every file or box. As soon as something has been used, put it away immediately. If possible, implement a clear desk policy so that before you go home for the evening, everything is tidied away ready to start again the next day.
Aim to do the same for your digital and online storage as well. Take some time to organise documents and put them into the correct folders, and get into the habit of moving them there straight away. Again, a clear file name system is important to ensure cohesion and make things easy to locate.
Use workflow platforms
This is especially helpful if you have members of your team who work remotely or if you need to travel. There are numerous workflow platforms available, each with its own set of features and pricing. A good one should let you communicate with your co-workers, schedule work, and integrate with any third-party apps you use, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Some popular workflow platforms include Slack, Asana and Trello.
Use automation tools for social media
Social media is now an integral part of running a successful company, and rightfully so: it is a cost-free way to advertise and engage with customers! However, if you are signing in every few hours to post something on Facebook or Twitter, it can be extremely time consuming. If you do not have the funds to hire a social media manager, consider planning and scheduling social media content ahead of time. Spend a few hours sorting it out once a month, and then use a automation app or software like Social Oomph or Hootsuite to send it out at times that are most engaging for you.
Keep on top of your accounts
While it may be tempting to file receipts and expenses in a drawer or envelope and grapple with them later, it is much more time efficient to deal with them as they arrive. The one thing that you do not want to get into a mess with is your expenses and accounts! Try to deal with each one as it arises, even if it means simply scanning it into an app that handles everything for you or numbering it and entering it into a spreadsheet. It is not necessary for your system to be complex. You may also want to look into setting up an invoice template, so that you are not having to reinvent the wheel every time that you send one out.
Get rid of the paper and go digital
These days, very few things need to be done on paper – most things can be handled online or digitally. Why not establish a paperless ethos in your office? Paper can be a major source of clutter and disorganization. Scan any pertinent documents and store them electronically instead of keeping a lot of physical files and folders. When paper does come into the office, have a “one touch” policy in place: strive to only touch a piece of paper once before scanning, filing, or discarding it.
Sort out your passwords and usernames
There are two kinds of people in this world : those who use the same password for everything and those who use different passwords for everything and have to reset it every time they need to login because they have forgotten it. Neither scenario is ideal, efficient, or secure. Although Google Chrome allows you to save passwords for quick access, this is not a secure method of storing sensitive and confidential information because anyone with access to your computer or mobile device can use it. Instead, look into some other third-party apps, such as 1Password, that provide a little more protection. This may incur a small fee, but it is well worth it to safeguard your data, especially with GDPR being such a big thing.
Make your workspace pleasant
We have already covered how having a tidy and uncluttered working environment is useful, but also having a pleasant and attractive workspace is also helpful for motivating you and your employees and getting things done better and more effectively. Add a few plants in the office – they encourage the production of oxygen and can improve productivity by as much as 15 per cent. Many people also swear by the use of standing desks as an aid to productivity, although the jury is still out on these for many people. Improving the natural light that comes into the office is a good idea, too. Whether that means taking down blinds or window coverings to let light in or putting in lightbulbs that mimic natural light, it all helps.
Digitally organise your time
The workflow management platforms that we have mentioned above can help with this, but also having a digital calendar or diary that anyone relevant can see and add to is vital. Staff can add holidays, appointments, meetings and so on so that you can organise rotas and shifts. While an old fashioned diary still has its place in many environments, it is not useful if you are not in the office.
Keep track of the time you spend on projects
If you work as a freelancer, contractor, or bill clients by the hour, it is critical that you keep track of your hours so you can charge them properly. Toggl, for example, is one of many apps that can assist you with this. Even if you are not billing time, these can be helpful because they allow you to see how your time is spent so that you can make improvements if and when necessary.
Tidy up your email inbox
If your email inbox is overflowing with unread emails, just like a physical paper one, it can be tedious, and sorting through it to find the email you want will take up too much of your precious time. It is much preferable to delete unnecessary emails as soon as they arrive, reply or forward them to the appropriate people, or file them into the appropriate folders in your inbox. Examine your emails on a regular basis to see if you can unsubscribe from any that are no longer important to you.
Tidy up your bookmarks and saved articles
All good business owners and entrepreneurs will be reading articles and doing research to make sure that they are up to date with the latest news in the industry. However, if you are strapped for time, as most of us are, there’s a good chance that you have links and bookmarks everywhere, for when you do have a moment. Maybe you have stored them as a browser bookmark or emailed the link, or write the website down on a scrap of paper. This is not going to be useful when you do have time to read – you will spend more time trying to look for them! Save them in one place using an app such as Pocket, so that when you have a spare five minutes you can check them out. You can even save them under tags, which is helpful if you want to search for article that you have saved about a particular topic or theme.
If you are hoping to start up or continue to grow a business this year, the key thing is to make sure that you are organised right from the start. This means that you are equipped to handle expansion, especially if happens unexpectedly or quickly. It also keeps you and anyone you employ on track and accountable so that you know where your time and money is going. Most importantly, it cuts out the time wasted on finding things and sorting out mess when you could be spending time with the people that you love, doing the things that you love.