A productive business starts with an organized workflow. The less time you’re dedicating to basic tasks, the more you’ll have free to grow your operations.
1. Manage your office space
What better way to start organizing than by cleaning up your physical surroundings? Make sure everything has a designated place, whether that be in a desk drawer or in a file cabinet or in a storage bin. Next, think about the items that you don’t use anymore: outdated or broken electronics, old books and stationery, and everything in between.
When your workspace is clean, tidy, and clutter-free, you’ll avoid sifting through loose papers and moving things around.
2. Keep documents and paperwork in order
Don’t spend hours looking for a specific receipt, invoice, or contract. Invest some resources now to organize your paper files with an intuitive system that can become second nature to you.
Organizing isn’t just about rearranging: it means shredding and deleting too. By getting rid of the files you don’t need anymore, you’re making room for new documents that are more relevant and useful. Hoping to stay on the safe side? Try scanning the originals so that only the most recent paperwork is in your office.
3. Clean up your notes
It might seem like a no-brainer, but your future self will thank you when all your notes are consolidated in one place. Instead of grabbing the nearest sticky note when inspiration strikes, try keeping a running list. Whether that be a classic notepad, a smartphone app, a voice recording software, or anything in between, the key is to find the solution that works best with your lifestyle.
It can take some time and dedication to find an option that sticks, but you’ll probably notice a spike in productivity once you can easily zero in on the tasks that matter. You won’t lose sight of the items that might turn out to be critical for your business and stay on track. Go from jotting down quick notes to setting calendar reminders to completing goals in no time.
4. Go paperless
With so many businesses moving to the cloud, it might be worth switching to software instead of sticking with the paper method. Not only will this save you time and headaches, but you’ll be able to create calculations and reports out of your data and learn more about your business.
Take receipts, for example. With a receipt management app, you can scan the paper documents and export the files to whichever expense reporting or tax applications you use.
5. Clean up your files
For digital organization, you’re probably not surprised that the same principle applies. Only keep the most relevant files easily accessible. The rest can be stored, archived, or even deleted. Your computer desktop should be just as organized as your physical workspace: make sure your folders are free of extra files, sorted in an intuitive way, and easy to access.
This is where cloud-based tools can help: not only can you collaborate more easily but you can free up your personal storage and always back up your files in the background. That way, you won’t lose your progress and can pick up where you left off on any device, anywhere.
6. Manage your contacts
From staying in touch with business partners to staff to customers, small business owners typically start building up a database of contact information pretty quickly. Luckily, various management systems are available for you to keep track of all the key players in your business.
On a small scale, it can help to start with the built-in apps you already have on your smartphone or computer. Once you grow, consider installing a software that can help you do more than store data. With Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, you can develop strong communication with leads, track their behavior, and target new audiences all in one place.
7. Declutter your inbox
Your email inbox should be your to-do list sorted in order of priority, not a storage unit for every email you’ve ever received. One of the best ways to start is with a totally clean slate: Archive all the threads you don’t look at or respond to anymore and you’ll see an empty inbox.
Once you’ve cleared away the clutter, you’ll need to create a system for managing the new emails coming in.
Unsubscribe from the newsletters and notifications you don’t open, create filters so that emails are easy to find in the right folders, and move conversations out of your inbox when they’re resolved. It can take some experimentation to find the system that works best for you—while color coding might boost productivity for some, it can be time-consuming and frustrating for others.
8. Become a password master
The more platforms you use, the more passwords you probably have piling up. What do you use to keep track of all the different combinations? Writing them down on scraps of paper might not be practical when you’re out of the office or you lose the notes between other files.
Instead of spending time combing through various notepads, piles, and drawers or just resetting your passwords every time you forget them, it can help to consolidate all your passwords with a password manager.
A good password manager can work across devices and operating systems so that you have one less issue to worry about. Most will allow you to turn on multi-factor authentication so you can be sure that you’re the only one who can log in. Then, you’ll have stronger security and more peace of mind.
9. Get ready for growth
You’ve set your business up for success with solid organization practices—what can you expect next? As your operations grow, you’ll probably be looking to strengthen your bottom line with low-cost financing.
That’s when SmartBiz Advisor can help. As the #1 online marketplace for SBA loans, we have unique insights to help you learn what banks consider when evaluating the financial and credit health of your business. SmartBiz Advisor helps make SBA and bank term loans easier by providing valuable recommendations throughout your journey as a small business owner.
When you’re ready, you can apply for a small business loan and we’ll match you with the bank partner most likely to fund your business.