Almost everybody will be looking to expand and grow their business – it is the natural progress of most businesses. On the other hand, plenty of people are looking at how to run their start up business.
And, either of these means you need to start on the right foot. You need to be organised and efficient. But organisation isn’t easy to start with unless that is part of your natural personality.
Even the best ideas won’t work if you aren’t in control of what is going on and what is going to happen in the future. It is more manageable for larger businesses, despite having many more employees, as they typically have a bigger budget and can have a person or team totally dedicated to organizing and keeping track of everything that is going on.
But there are plenty of platforms and tips that you can use to be more organised.
It can be very tempting, and certainly more for small businesses, to shove the receipts and expenses into a draw and deal with them later. To simply take them out at tax time, for example, give them to your accountant and hope for some magic to happen. But it is so much more time-efficient if you deal with them as and when they come in or at one designated day per month.
Accounts and expenses aren’t something that you want to get into a mess; your finance really matters. And if you aren’t up-to-date with bills that are going out and what is coming in, you could find yourself in the red. There are plenty of easy to use software applications that can deal with this for you. In fact, they become so easy you’re presented with the exact numbers that you need to input into your tax forms.
Here are a few options:
- QuickBooks Online
- Sage one
- Zoho books
You will need to decide which works best for you, ensure you read the terms and conditions well and only give access to companies you trust.
A Scheduling System
A calendar and scheduling system for personal use is perfect, one that can handle your employees is a game-changer. Arranging frequent meetings and appointments, you need to find a way of keeping these neat and tidy. To set reminders and block out periods where you are going to be unavailable. As well as assigning tasks.
Even if your entire team works remotely, there should be an option to track time, attendance, reports and send messages. Sling work scheduling software is absolutely ideal for all of these tasks and more.
If there are any number of team members, or a virtual assistant who needs access to your passwords, you’re going to have to make sure everything is arranged correctly. Use LastPass in order to create a password that protects yours but still allows your team, or your virtual assistant access to the account that they need. If you are using one password for everything, or using different passwords and forgetting everything you then you’re wasting time.
If you have the sole use of a computer, then you can go ahead and make sure that Google Chrome or your Apple Mac saves all the passwords. This isn’t ideal for sensitive or confidential information, if other people can access your computer, or use Wi-Fi in a public space. There are some third-party apps that can offer a little more security, like 1password.
Office Space and Storage
If you are working in a messy office or workspace, it will be more difficult to find what you need. Clutter, in the physical sense, can cause mental clutter too. It is distracting and will pull your attention away from the task at hand.
It is imperative that either you personally clean your office at least once a week, or if you have an office where your team works, you ensure that the whole office is cleaned daily.
An untidy workplace can lead to misplaced documents, and when you need to grab a pen and a piece of paper in a pinch, you might find yourself scraping around to find it – leaving a client listening to it on the other end of the phone.
Make sure that everything has a specific place, and you place it back in there each time you use it. If you have a lot of paper files, then you should ensure that everything is labelled well. This means that if you need someone else to find a file, or you need to find one quickly, it’s nice and easy to do. Aim to have a clean and tidy desk policy as part of your office culture and your personal office culture.
Treat all of your digital storage as well as you want to treat your office space. Ensure that each of your files is correctly labeled. Many people put in a non-specific random file name and then cannot find the file again. Or they label it Company1, Company2, Company3 and this lack of description will waste a lot of time when you are looking for a file.
It is also wise for you to use something like iCloud and hard disk drives too. You should save your files safely within a cloud to protect them should anything happen to your computer, and the same again with a hard disk drive. The bonus of using the cloud is that your work is accessible anywhere, and if you use something like Dropbox, it’s easy to share with clients too.
Social Media Campaigns
Social media is a huge part of any successful business. And so it should be. It is a free way of advertising to millions of people, and connecting with your customers. However, it can be incredibly time-consuming if you are logging in every few minutes to check if a post on Facebook or Twitter is gaining traction, or posting fresh content manually.
If you do not have the budget for a dedicated social media manager or a virtual assistant, then it’s time to think about planning and scheduling your social media.
Here are a number of social media scheduling tools that can help:
- Social Sprout
Spending one day a month or a few hours per week planning your social media campaigns ahead of time will save you a lot in the long run. Using a third-party scheduler is ideal. And many of them have free plans.
If you are a freelancer, billing clients per hour, or working as a contractor, you need to keep on top of the hours that you are working so you can charge your clients correctly. There are a number of apps that you can use, some of which will be incorporated into the scheduling system. Here are some time tracking apps that you can consider.
- Fresh books
- Due time tracking
- Rescue time
If your inbox is overflowing with unread emails, and it reads something in the hundreds or thousands of that can be very distracting. It will also be much more difficult to go through them the longer you let the stack up. You can hire a virtual assistant to manage your email account, and go through what needs to be kept and what needs to be thrown away. They will also be able to put them in a number of inbox folders so that you can quickly access what you need.
It is better to start unsubscribing from the emails that you don’t deem necessary. It is also better for you to reply to emails or forward emails on to the correct parties as soon as they hit your inbox. Or you could set a periodic time to look at your emails. For example, you can choose to check your emails once in the morning and once in the afternoon unless you have constant email communications as standard.
Here are some apps for inbox organisation:
- Google Inbox
- Gmail Special Stars
It is important that you have a communications platform so that you can communicate with your team nice and quickly. It is often useful if your communications are combined in your work schedule software. However, if that is not the case, then you should consider something like Microsoft Teams or Slack. You should take time comparing Microsoft Teams and Slack as they both have free versions that are very suitable for small businesses. There are, of course, a number of other options like Zoom, which gained incredible popularity in recent times.
Much of good organisation can be put down to having the correct tools in place—learning which tools work for you and which work for your team. Planning your next campaigns carefully, thoroughly researching and competing in your industry, making use of all of the free tools that are available to you, and hiring professionals or freelancers where you need to – will see your business grow, and grow well.