Bless This Mess: Organizing Your Small Business

Suppose you find yourself spending more time sifting through a mess of files, broken electronics, and yellowing paperwork than you do getting anything done. Then, for the sake of your sanity, it’s time to start organizing your small business!

The 2018 Staples small business survey unveiled some interesting, albeit not all that surprising, statistics about the importance of keeping your business neat and orderly:

  • 53% of thriving small businesses are described as organized by their owners, while only 23% of failing business owners say the same. 
  • 33% of small business owners feel that disorganization leads to less productivity and efficiency. 
  • 75% of failing small business owners say that disorganization played a role in their productivity loss

With such a strong correlation between organizing and small business success, it’s only hurting your business to accept the mess. It’s time to bust the dust, straighten up the storage, and get your company on the right track. 

Start with these five strategies for organizing your small business:

Scan and Purge Your Papers

If you’ve been in business a while, it’s more than likely that you have more than your fair share of old receipts, tax transcripts, and notes scribbled on napkins cluttering up your office. 

While it’s understandable that you’d want to hang on to things for the sake of recordkeeping, the fact of the matter is that most of those papers will never see the light of day again after they’ve served their original purpose. 

Instead of storing paperwork as physical documents, scan everything you have lying around as a digital copy. Then, you have access to the items you deem essential in an easily accessible, always-available format that doesn’t take up an inch of space in your physical business location. 

Create an Organized Cloud

It’s not enough to just scan documents. You also need to create a cloud system that keeps everything organized when you convert it to digital. There are tons of free options, like Google Drive or Dropbox, that offer premium upgrades as your business’s storage needs grow. 

As you scan your documents, sort them into folders and subfolders that make the most sense for the kinds of paperwork you’re dealing with. For example, it may be helpful to have folders labeled with the year, then subfolders labeled with categories like “Receipts,” “Invoices,” and “Instruction Manuels.”

Even if you never have to look at those particular papers again, it should bring peace of mind that you have them on hand in a personalized organization system. 

Straighten Up Your Desk and Wires

Your desk is your hub. It’s where things get done. So, if it’s cramped and messy, it’s very likely that your productivity is going to take a hit. It’s hard to focus when you keep elbowing stacks of paper off the edge or accidentally sloshing old coffee everywhere as you look for a pen. 

Start by doing a general tidying up. Get the papers into your brand new cloud small business organizing system, hunt down all the old mugs and empty water bottles, and throw away food wrappers. 

Then, start tackling your cords. Use clips, wire hideaways, or even zip ties to tame the tangle. If you’re concerned about having to undo all your hard work the next time you need to unplug your laptop power supply for on-the-go use, it’s worth purchasing an extra cord exclusively for outside of the office. 

Finally, add a couple of things that bring you joy. It could be a lovely scented candle, a photo of your family, or a small jar of your favorite sweet treat. Just be sure that you don’t end up with too many knickknacks and decor items that impede your ability to work. 

Inventory Everything

Small businesses lose a lot of money overstocking items because they don’t have an efficient inventory system. When you can’t see what you have, you’re going to buy more or less than you need. 

Take the time to gather up and organize every piece of inventory in your warehouse and storefront and keep a record of it. Keep these records as a constantly updated, living document that automatically tracks purchases and subsequently updates your total numbers. Then, the next time you’re buying stock for your stores, you have a crystal clear picture of what you need. 

Clean Up Your Email Inbox

Inbox overwhelm is real, and it plays a crucial role in reducing your ability to work efficiently. As a business owner in the digital age, you are particularly susceptible to receiving a formidable number of daily communications. 

The first step is becoming very friendly with the unsubscribe button. Any promotions, ads, and marketing materials are just adding to the mess. Get rid of anything you don’t actively engage with regularly. 

Next, try out batch emailing. Instead of responding to emails as soon as they hit your inbox, set aside three blocks of time a day where you sit down and only deal with responding to, sending, and deleting emails. Doing so helps you keep your mind and your inbox clear. 

If you’re worried about the impact it could have on customer and client relations, then set up an autoresponder that lets them know you will get back to them during your next scheduled block and provide a list of those times. They’ll be satisfied that they know when to expect a response, and you don’t feel obligated to deal with one email at a time. It’s a win-win for both parties!

Creating a work-life balance starts with organizing your small business. Even if you weren’t born with the enviable skill of naturally keeping your space tidy, it’s something you can learn to do. As you find your groove, you’ll soon notice that you have a lot more time on your hands that you’re not eating up with the ongoing battle against disarray.

Still need a little support getting started? The experts at Catalyst Group ECR can help you pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in your business organization systems, then help you think through possible solutions. Don’t let chaos keep your business from thriving!

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