Five Super Easy Tips to Keep Your Small Business Organized
As I write this post I have three small businesses (my photography business, my brick and mortar stores and my personal brand). Seriously, I know. I might just be addicted to creating my own businesses! You would think it's pretty overwhelming keeping everything straight (I'm not going to lie, sometime it does feel like chaos). Over the past four years I have learned a few tips, tricks and habits that have helped be to keep things, for the most part, organized. Here are five of my most effective ways I have found to maintain organization in my small businesses.
1. Have a Dedicated Workspace
I have to admit that I have been super fortunate to have my very own office in our home. It's where I do the majority of my work when I am at home. If you don't have an entire room that you can call your office don't worry, you can create a home office nook pretty much anywhere. It may just be a desk in the kitchen or in the corner of your living room. I've even seen small closets turned into mini office spaces that are really efficient!
Get creative with your space. Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be beautifully styled (although that is part of the fun). It does need to be functional. I like to recommend that you have enough work space to have your computer and at least a notebook handy. I have a huge desk and I actually have found it to be super distracting because it allows me to create piles all over it! Make certain your space has good light and that it will be well lit during the day and night. Make sure it is a comfortable space and that it stays clutter free. This last tip is KEY. I find that I have difficulty working in the middle of a mess. At the end of your determined work day take 5 minutes to clean up your space so it's fresh and ready to go the next time you come back to it.
2. Have a Bookkeeping System
Alright people, do I have your attention? THIS is the most important thing you can do for yourself to make your life so much easier come tax time. In the past I have had this bad habit of starting to get my books in order on January 1st of the new year! Why? Because I am a procrastinator and I know I need to get it all ready for taxes, but I wait until the last minute. I do not recommend this.
If you have a small business like a photography business or an LLC (Limited Liability Corp) it is possible to do your own taxes. They key is just to be really organized. The first thing to do is to ensure that you have a separate bank account for your business that you only use for deposits and withdrawals related to your business. This makes your bookkeeping process the most simplified. You can use online tools such as QuickBooks to keep things organized but if you do not have employees it's possible (and doable) to live without it.
Come up with a book keeping system that works for you. Have a designated place where you keep receipts for your business on file and use spreadsheets to stay organized. I love using simple Google spreadsheets for my book keeping. There are lots of great resources out there that walk you through which business expenses are tax deductions (there are actually quite a few!). If you are unsure chat with a tax professional but keep track of everything just in case. Even the square footage of the space you use in your home can be tax deduct-able.
3. Use a Daily Planner
Alright, I know that the tip of using a daily planner may sound obvious but it really works. If you're like me, a little old school, I still use a traditional paper planner. I am actually kind-of addicted to planners (does anyone else love getting a new planner and writing in it for the first time?). I digress...let's talk planners.
I have tried a ton of planners and I have to say that my all time favorite is The Get To Work Book that was created by Elise Cripe. I have been following Elise for YEARS and she is the queen of setting goals and getting things done. She is super inspiring. The planner is designed intentionally to help you get your goals down on paper and to get those goals accomplished. It has lots of "open space" to jot down your daily, monthly, quarterly and annual "big" goals. I promise I don't get any kick-backs from promoting this planner so check it out if you just want an awesome organizational tool.
I use my planner not only to make certain that I show up where I am supposed to be everyday (honestly this is sometimes a struggle), but also to keep track of goals and progress. If you are not using a planner right now and you feel like you're just not keeping life in order I challenge you to try it out. The more you get your ideas, intentions and goals on paper the more likely yuou are to be successful.
4. Set Goals
I love goal setting. I know that is a super nerdy thing to say. Maybe I shouldn't say that I love setting goals but rather I love crushing those goals. Without goals you really don't know what you are working towards. Think about your "why". Why are you a small business owner? Why do you want to work from home? Often times your "why" is a good indication of your goals. For example - I am a small business owner because I want to be more available for my family. My "why" is that I want a flexible schedule and eventually my big goal is to be debt free. Now, these are really, really big goals. So, I try to break this down into small goals that work towards me achieving the big life goals.
Right now I use my planner to keep me on track with my daily and weekly goals. Sometimes I feel like my weeks fly by in a blur and I wonder, did I even get anything accomplished? To combat this I write down my daily action items or goals. For example - for my daily goals right now I am listing - 1. get 10k steps in 2. create 5 Pinterest pins for Tailwind 3. Create one blog post or record one podcast every day. Sometimes I have additional goals for the day or a spacial goal just for that week.
Setting goals can keep your business organized and help you to take action steps every single day. Without those action steps you will never be able to accomplish the bigger goals in life. I mentioned in a recent podcast (Three things Successful Entrepreneurs Do Every Day, it's awesome, you should listen to it) I shared that one of the things that sets successful people apart is that they are consistent. They do the things everyday that move them closer and closer to their goals.
5. Create Workflows
Think of workflows as outlines or as a checklist. Workflows break down all of the tasks that may be involved in a larger project. For example, just writing Create Blog Post doesn't really break down the whole process. I may write a blog post but there is a workflow that I create in the process of writing a blog post. I break "Craete a Blog Post" down into this work flow:
1. Brainstorm topic ideas 2. Choose a topic 3. Write Post 4. Create Pinterest Pins 5. Schedule in Tailwind 5. Schedule Facebook and Instagram posts 6. Consider as a Podcast Topic
Sometimes I think we fail to get things done because we know that it may be challenging and we get intimidated by the task. By breaking it down into smaller action steps it helps you to stay on track and get things crossed off that "to do" list. I use a Project Management tool named Asana to help me stay organized, especially for those really big projects that I am working on. Right now I am working on creating a big online course that has many modules and slide decks so it's hard to keep everything in order. I have been making very specific tasks for each step and when I complete that step I just move on to the next one.
This system also helps to remind you where you left off if you finish up for the day and come back to a project that isn't quite yet completed. Remember that the one thing that really sets the successful people apart from the wanna-be successful people is ACTION. By using workflows you can keep your business organized and make progress in actionable steps every day to work towards accomplishing those big goals.
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