Time is crucial in running your own business because time means money. Keeping your business organized is one of the best ways to insure you make the most of your time. I’ll be covering each of these topics in more detail in future blogs, but here are some general tips to get you started.
Make business plans. You need two kinds of business plan. An overall long-term plan will guide your business as you go along and is a living document that you should review often and make adjustments as necessary. The Small Business Administration is a great resource for information on starting and running a small business, including how to write a business plan.
The other plan you need covers the everyday tasks you do. Each evening at the end of your work day (my preference since I’m a night owl!) or first thing in the morning, make a plan and stick to that plan. This will make sure that you know where you’re heading and prevent you from doing things that you don’t need to do. Planning what you want to accomplish each day will make things easier for you. If you have lots of things to do, don’t try to finish them all at the same time. Make a schedule when to do each task and assign priorities, with a numbering system, or high-medium-low, whatever works best for you. Do the most critical ones first. That way, you’ll be sure to accomplish those, then if you aren’t able to finish all your tasks, you can move the unfinished ones to the next day.
Devise systems. Write a procedure manual of all you do. It will not only help you keep on top of what you need to do, if you need help with the work, it will be much easier for someone else to step in.
Automate your tasks whenever possible. Any task that you do more than once is a good candidate for an automated system. One helpful site for automating tasks (and it’s free!) is If This Then That., You tell it if you do one task in a channel (such as Facebook or Twitter), that triggers a task in another channel. For example, if I post a new blog, I can set it to automatically update my LinkedIn status with a link. And for keeping track, a digital organizer like OneNote (my personal favorite, and it’s included with most Microsoft Office Suites) or Evernote can be great tools to keep all your notes in one place. I can’t live without mine now!
Delegate tasks. You can’t do everything. But even if you try to, you can’t do them all efficiently. Outsource your administrative and bookkeeping tasks, for example, so you can spend your time on the income-generating activities that will grow your business. Let others do those tasks you don’t do well or don’t pay for you to spend your time doing.
Running a business involves keeping track of lots of information. If you have systems in place, you’ll be more likely to avoid mistakes, or at least be better equipped to deal with them.