If you’re looking to grow your small business in 2021 and beyond, you need to organize every aspect of your company. This can be difficult if your small business doesn’t have the cash or resources to put systems in place that lead to long-term organization.
I know from personal experience that even if you’re using the best tools to grow your business, success can lag if you aren’t allocating your time and energy to the right things.
Here’s how to stay organized in 2021 and beyond.
1. Organize Your Small Business Office Space and Storage
To get started, you need to make sure your physical surroundings are neat and organized.
This ensures that you’re able to perform at your highest level. In many ways, your entire company’s organization is determined by how organized your desk is.
To start with, make sure everything has a specific place, even if that place is in a pile of papers on your desk.
To make the best use of your desk, you can follow simple tips like having a space for everything, segmenting your desk, spend time every day organizing the papers on your desk, and label everything.
Since paperwork tends to consume a lot of the time and resources in most modern offices, you should consider storing this offsite.
This means you’ll spend less time managing your documents, and you can be sure they’re safe and protected better than you could do yourself. You could also scan documents and upload them to a cloud-based storage service, or simply save them on your computer (be sure to back up your computer regularly!)
If this isn’t exactly your style of working, however, I’ll show you another method that can help reduce your paper workload in a minute.
2. Keep Track of Customer Support for Your Small Business
Your loyal customers are at the heart of your business.
While they take up a lot of your time and resources, it’s time well spent if it keeps them happy and pleased with the services you have to offer.
Although it’s important to automate your customer support system, it’s a bad idea to automate your relationships with customers.
In order to reach your customers directly, consider using a program like Groove, which allows you to manage your customer tickets effectively.
This allows you to spend less time managing customers, and more time improving your product and business systems.
Don’t try to automate the entire process, however. Personal touches and direct communication will benefit both you and your customers.
3. Plan Your Small Business’s Social Media Campaigns in Advance
If you’re running a social media marketing campaign on a budget, you need to reduce the time you’re spending keeping things online.
Instead of wasting time publishing posts every few hours, you should schedule your posts beforehand. You could also schedule your CMS system or social media platform to publish posts for you.
This simple organization technique will save you countless hours and help you improve your efficiency and productivity.
Meet Edgar is a great way to manage your content beforehand, allowing you to write social media updates once, and then have them sent out multiple times afterward.
This is a great way to keep things organized, without repeating yourself by constantly updating your social feeds.
4. Manage Your Small Business’s Expense Receipts
If you’ve been running your small business for any length of time, you know how frustrating it can be to manage all your expense reports.
They’re a hassle to track and record, but they need to be managed so you can stay up to date with taxes and ensure your finances are in order.
You can’t just put them off when more important work comes up, though. You should track each purchase and transaction weekly.
To make this more efficient, use software like Expensify, which does all the work, keeping your expenses organized and recorded so you can focus on the things that really matter for your small business.
Speaking of letting software handle your paperwork, you can extend this to other areas of your business for stellar results.
5. Have Your Small Business Go Paperless
If you want to reduce the clutter and management that’s associated with all the papers you need to keep up with, it might be time to go paperless.
This means instead of keeping track of dozens of files and folders all the time, you just reduce everything to digital scans of the most important documents.
If you’re going to try this, you need a way to quickly scan documents on the fly so you don’t struggle to keep up with the workload.
CamScanner is a great app for scanning your bills and other papers quickly and easily.
CamScanner allows you to keep the files in the app, but you can also transfer them to your computer.
If you need to share these files with a team of individuals, I recommend keeping your archived files in a program like Dropbox.
This ensures that everyone in your small business is up to date with the most recent documents, but you don’t have to worry about extensive file management offline.
6. Organize Your Passwords
If you’re like most people, you have one of two systems for managing your passwords.
Either you use the same password all the time for different websites, or you constantly forget the passwords you’ve set for each site.
Instead of either of these, I recommend a third system: letting an app handle your passwords for you.
You can do this automatically in a browser like Chrome. Unfortunately, this isn’t completely safe, as anyone who has access to your computer can use them.
Instead, I recommend using 1Password to manage your passwords. This program stores your passwords together in a mobile and desktop app.
Unlike Chrome’s autofill feature, however, you must enter a single password to access your other passwords.
This is a series of a few words, which are easy to remember, but nearly impossible to hack.
For example, let’s say you need to log into your account on Stripe. First, you’d go to the Stripe login page.
You can either click the 1Password icon in Chrome or you can enter the keyboard shortcut Command + \.
This brings up the 1Password form, where you’ll enter the word-based password that gives you access to other passwords.
1Password then auto-fills Stripe with your login information and the saved password. It also logs you in automatically, so it’s one less click you need to make.
1Password will store information for a variety of accounts.
The best part is that every site can have a complex, unique password, but you can access them all with your single phrase. 1Password can also generate a random, high-security password if you want it to.
This means less of your memory is dedicated to passwords, and you can get more done by working efficiently and keeping your logins organized.
7. Improve Your Workspace for Increased Productivity
If you’re going to make progress with your business, you need to create an environment that supports that vision. There are a few proven techniques that can help you get more out of your workspace.
Believe it or not, adding a few plants around your office can increase productivity by 15% through improved concentration.
You’ll also get a boost by using a standing desk and cleaning up your cables.
These techniques help you stay energized and focused without the distractions that come from a cluttered workplace.
It may only take a few minutes to set up these changes, but even small changes can improve your productivity and make a huge difference in how organized and productive your small business is.
8. Keep Track of Your Small Business’s Notes in the Cloud
If you write notes, to-do items, ideas, and contact information on scraps of paper or whatever’s closest, it’s time to get more organized.
Programs like Evernote are a great way to do this, and you should start implementing it (or a similar software) immediately.
To make Evernote work best, you need to decide which philosophy you’ll apply.
Will you record everything there, and use the search feature to find your notes later? Will you carefully place your notes in folders and use tags and headings to make sure you know what’s in the program?
Both of these are valid options. The key is to create a system that works for you, and then keep using it.
9. Keep Your Computer’s Desktop Organized
Just like your physical desk should be clean and tidy to help you stay organized and get work done, your digital desktop should be clean and organized, too.
A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t see your desktop background, you should work to reduce and remove the items cluttering your computer.
Once you’ve cleaned up your main screen, consider eliminating your downloaded files and removing any links or other files you aren’t using.
If you like, you can even clean out your trash and save some hard drive space.
This is a great way to provide a refreshing look at your work processes that will help you stay organized.
10. Improve Scheduling Systems for Your Small Business
If you have frequent meetings, video chats, or windows for others to schedule times to work with you, you need a way to manage those time blocks effectively.
Most people tend to use back-and-forth emailing and calendar invites to schedule events like this. Unfortunately, the continuous schedule adjustments can be taxing and a waste of time. Instead, find a perfect time to meet using a program like Calendly.
Calendly lets others schedule a time to work with you, so you don’t need to message back and forth at all.
It’s a simple way to stay in contact with others without the confusion that usually accompanies scheduling hassles.
11. Track Your Time Effectively
If you’re a freelancer, you know the importance of tracking your billable hours.
But even if you don’t need to track hours to ensure you get paid, it’s a good idea to start using a program like Toggl.
Toggl is a quick and easy way to track your time, which can help any small business owner.
By creating separate projects and tasks in Toggl, you can easily keep track of the hours you’re putting in to reach your most important goals.
Instead of wondering why you haven’t met the benchmarks you set earlier, you can use Toggl to stay organized and track how you’re spending your most valuable resource — your time.
12. Keep Track of Your Small Business’s Invoices and Payments
Every small business needs to manage payments, invoicing, and billing. This is a critical feature that keeps the business alive, but it can be a struggle to keep everything organized.
Instead of constantly working to make sure this is effective for you, consider using a program like FreshBooks to handle your invoices.
Remember, the vast majority of the payment information you need to manage doesn’t directly affect the quality of your work or appeal to your core competencies.
Look for software that makes these types of administrative tasks more efficient, which will save you some time.
The fewer tasks you need to complete in a day, the more you can focus on the areas that really appeal to you and help you accomplish your highest priorities.
13. Plan Ahead for Your Small Business’s Quarterly Taxes
If your business is based in the United States, you’ll need to make sure you pay the quarterly taxes due every few months.
Even if you’re not based in the U.S., however, you need to stay updated on the tax policies for your country and region.
This isn’t just something you should think about organizing. If you aren’t in compliance with the tax regulations where you live, you could end up paying fines or even being shut down.
To make sure you’re staying up with the taxes and paying the amounts that are due at different times, look into a service like inDinero.
It will help ensure you’re keeping up with your taxes and do some of the organization for you.
14. Tame Your Email Inbox
If your inbox is overflowing with unread emails, it can be frustrating and it might consume far too much of your time.
You’ll be more successful with your small business if you reduce this to a low number of important emails and clean out your inbox regularly.
Productivity expert Brian Tracy recommends keeping a clean email inbox, deleting your junk emails, and saving the ones you’ll need again.
You could also create folders or flags to filter emails from your inbox into specific categories. That will help you identify which emails are important or require a response, versus those that you can glance at.
By skimming the less important emails, you can work through your inbox even more quickly.
This is one of a lot of different tools that can help reduce the time you spend sending and receiving emails and it will save you plenty of hours while keeping you more organized.
15. Clean up Your Reading List
If you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, you’re constantly finding articles you know will help you grow your business and increase your revenue and conversions.
If you don’t have the time to read the article, however, you probably store it somewhere else, like as a bookmark in your browser or by emailing it to yourself.
If that’s the case, you’ll want to change this unwieldy list of articles into something you can easily manage.
I recommend Pocket, which helps you keep track of articles and videos you want to read or watch later. It’s a simple system that keeps interesting articles you save.
To use it, you’ll want to first find an article that looks interesting. If you install the Pocket Chrome extension, you’ll need to click it in the browser window.
In the drop-down menu that appears, you can add a tag and see related articles that others have saved to read later.
Instantly, the new article you save will appear in your main list of pieces to read on Pocket.
Even better, the articles you save on Pocket are available to read on all your devices. This makes it easy to keep reading on your phone when you’re traveling.
Having a reading list of articles on Pocket (or a similar program) allows you to quickly save interesting pieces without creating a messy list somewhere on your computer.
If you do a lot of reading online, it’s a great way to organize your reading material and keep it available to access on all your devices.
16. Reduce Your Small Business’s Physical Paper Storage
I mentioned earlier that paperwork is a huge frustration for many small business owners.
You can reduce the amount of time you spend managing papers by first creating an organization system for your whole workplace.
If you like, you can take your paper management from an in-house task to something another company does for you.
If neither of those sounds appealing, all hope isn’t lost. Start by organizing your stored documents in a logical order.
Be sure to keep your most important papers close by for easy access.
Get rid of any papers you don’t need anymore. The more papers you get rid of, the less space you’ll need to worry about.
This is the single-most effective way to keep your papers organized without extensive management systems. Simply throw away what isn’t needed.
If you keep important files and documents that can’t be thrown away, consider using a service like Shred-It to destroy your documents.
This is a great way to stay secure and reduce the workload and hassle associated with the papers you need to manage on a daily basis.
The fewer pieces you need to worry about in your small business’s organizational system, the more you’ll be able to focus on what matters most for your business.
If you’re looking to grow your business in 2021 and beyond, you need to make sure you’re organized enough to handle the growth of your small business.
You should keep in mind simple organizational behaviors (like de-cluttering your desk and workspace), automation of tasks (such as your marketing campaigns), your finances (such as your taxes), and–most importantly–your time (use time tracking and scheduling software).
If you need help getting your marketing and digital efforts off the ground so you can focus on setting up organization strategies, we’d love to talk!
What strategies will you use to keep your small business organized?
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