Organizing Tips for Small Business Success

If you discovered the bottom line in your business depended on the organization in your office, your reaction could range from complete composure to sheer terror. Organization certainly has an effect on your bottom line ? and just as significantly ? on your peace of mind. For the small business or home office professional, effective organizing can mean the difference between business failure and success. For the 11.1 million workers who have their offices at home, organization skills can have a significant impact on their personal lives as well.

At no time in history has there been a greater need for getting organized. There are three major reasons for this:

(1) Information is accumulating at a faster rate every day. The speed of the microchip doubles every 18 months - with no end in sight. Every day we are bombarded with new opportunities and challenges. Having the right information at the right time can turn a prospect into a client, a disaster into an opportunity.

(2) Not only do we have more to organize, but the demand to organize it continually increases. Computers, fax machines, cellular phones, and on-line services enable us - and require us - to do more than ever before. If I can e-mail you a question in 20 seconds, why can't you respond with equal speed? And if you don't, I'll move on to your competition!

(3) Small businesses owners rarely have sufficient cash flow to administrative assistants to keep them organized, so they are faced with organizing themselves. Support staff that are available are given more and more responsibilities. Many entrepreneurs have no support staff. Streamlining procedures and eliminating unnecessary steps to minimize personnel time required to complete each task is essential.

Organizing effectively requires continually asking the questions: "Is this the best way to do this?" "Is this the best time?" "Are these the best people?" Let's look at six aspects of organizing any small office or home office:

1. People 2. Finances 3. Information 4. Things 5. Space 6. Time

Identifying the right person to do the right job is a key component to reaching your desired goals. That assumes, of course, that the desired goal is clearly defined and measurable! (If not, return to "Go!") If your company has a "staff of none," you have to wear a lot of hats. Outsourcing aspects of your business, from word processing, mailing, or bookkeeping to sales, marketing, or project management, is often very cost effective, and good organizing skills will significantly increase your ability to use that avenue. Using family members in your business can be a good strategy ? and tax deductible. (My children started doing my filing when they were 10 years old!)

Lack of capital is often cited as one of the biggest causes of failure in a small business. Great ideas and products without solid financial planning, and more importantly, effective execution of that plan, will never reach the marketplace. It's often easier to save money than to earn it ? keep those overhead expenses at a minimum. And it's cheaper to keep a client than to get a new one, so take good care of the ones you have (unless your client is expecting you to give an unrealistic discount because of longevity ? in which case you may be better off finding a new!)

Research shows that the average person spends 150 hours a year looking for misplaced information. Identify what information you need to provide the products and services your company offers. Take a proactive approach. Don't wait until the filing cabinets are too full to file, but there's no time to make decisions about what to throw away! A few hours with an organizing consultant before there is a problem can prevent weeks of grief later on.

Many offices are filled with things no one uses, while unnecessary time and energy is spent looking for things you really need. Identify a "Office Organizing Day" ? wear comfortable clothes and order pizza for lunch for everyone. (Give that old printer to a school or non-profit organization that doesn't have any ? and, as a bonus, write it off as a tax deduction!) Repeat the event annually as a good business practice.

Offices everywhere are getting smaller. Organizing space requires arranging things in such a way that everyone can easily use the right thing at the right time. The best source of additional space are often the walls. Bookshelves, open shelf filing systems, and workstations with "working walls" can be a major boon to the perennial space problem. If you're working at home, make sure your "home office" is a place you love.

Creative minds (a requirement for any successful business) always have more ideas than the physical body can carry out. Recognize that fact and spend time planning to identify the most crucial activities. Working smarter, not harder, is in the best interest of business and family. The carpenter's axiom - "Measure twice; saw once" - is good advice for any business.

My definition of organization is very simple: Does it work? Do you like it? And, if what you do effects other people (and it will if you plan to stay in business), "Does it work for everyone?"

How long will it take to get organized? It doesn't matter ? just start! The longer you wait to begin, the more time it will take, and the more difficult it will be. Remember that in any organizing process, things will sometimes feel worse before they feel better. To manage change is difficult. Human behavior is not like computer software, it cannot be installed. It has to be nurtured. It takes time to learn new behavior patterns. Forgive yourself when you miss the mark. The rewards of good organizing skills will be well worth your efforts!

© Barbara Hemphill is the author of Kiplinger's Taming the Paper Tiger at Work and Taming the Paper Tiger at Home and co-author of Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever. The mission of Hemphill Productivity Institute is to help individuals and organizations create and sustain a productive environment so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives. We do this by organizing space, information, and time. We can be reached at 800-427-0237 or at www.ProductiveEnvironment.com

In The News:


Washington Post

Small-business owners in Purple Line's path worry about being forced to move
Washington Post
Shibeshi Alemayehu vividly recalls three decades at his 7-Eleven near downtown Silver Spring, where he started out making minimum wage selling Slurpees on the graveyard shift and worked his way up to store manager before finally saving enough money ...

and more »

Forbes

If Small Businesses Drop Health Coverage, Does 'Medicare For All' Become More Likely
Forbes
Democratic Senator Kamala Harris, widely described as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, speaks at the unveiling of Senator Bernie Sanders's (left) Medicare For All Act. To Harris's right is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, another ...
Sanders Statement on North Korea - Senator Bernie Sanders of VermontSenator Bernie Sanders
Chris Murphy - The HillThe Hill

all 149 news articles »

Small Business Trends

The AZ of Popular Business Startups: A State by State Guide (Infographic)
Small Business Trends
So many small businesses start as a dream. But what types of businesses are entrepreneurs currently dreaming about starting? Online equipment marketplace Bid on Equipment recently created an infographic showing the types of businesses that are most ...


Small Business Trends

Learn About Social Media Algorithms, Augmented Reality and More Changing Business Trends
Small Business Trends
The tools, platforms and methods you use to grow your business are constantly changing. So you need to keep up with all the latest updates and trends. Members of the online small business community have some great insights about these changing tools ...


Small Business Trends

Small Businesses Drop Healthcare Coverage with Cost, ACA Given as Reasons
Small Business Trends
The Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 50 percent of small businesses with between three and 49 employees offer healthcare coverage to employees. That's down from 59 percent that offered coverage in 2012 and 66 percent more than 10 years ago.
Health benefits from small businesses keep vanishingPost-Bulletin

all 60 news articles »

Small Business Person of the Year: Nonprofit seeks to be leader in breast cancer prevention
Atlanta Business Chronicle
Her efforts in both realms have made her a finalist for the Veteran Entrepreneur award in Atlanta Business Chronicle's 2017 Small Business Person of the Year Awards. “Our competitive advantage is that we are an innovative nonprofit organization with ...


Forbes

How AI Tech Is Changing Small Business Marketing And Customer Service
Forbes
As Senior VP of SMB marketing at Salesforce, Marie Rosecrans focuses on empowering small and medium-sized businesses with the tools and resources they need to grow. Marie joined Salesforce 10 years ago in marketing and customer success, and now ...

and more »

Small Business Trends

Sales World Offers Online Event for Businesses Looking to Improve Numbers
Small Business Trends
Looking to improve your small business sales without traveling or paying big for an expensive conference? There's an upcoming event that can help you boost your sales and learn about all the most effective sales techniques without even leaving your desk.


Atlanta Business Chronicle

Small Business Person of the Year: Co-founder sees Terminus growing 100% in 2017
Atlanta Business Chronicle
Spett is a finalist for the Rising Star award in Atlanta Business Chronicle's 2017 Small Business Person of the Year Awards. Terminus also was named the Chronicle's No. 1 place to work in 2016, named the startup of the year by the American Marketing ...


Entrepreneur

Need Money Fast? 4 Options for Small Business Owners
Entrepreneur
... when they scale up for growth," professor Daniel Isenberg told the Harvard Business Review. "When you are a startup, there is relatively little to lose, mistakes are fixable and a small amount of cash and a cohort of committed colleagues can go a ...

Google News

Community Relations Strategy for Small Business

Does your company have a community relation strategy? Have you... Read More

How to Define Business Objectives

Why does a good business relationship rely on having some... Read More

Setting Up as an Electronic Repair Authorized Service Center

If you plan to upgrade your workshop into an Authorized... Read More

Sexual Harassment - Its just not on!

Sexual Harassment is a disturbing part of employment life in... Read More

Batting Cages Business - Making Profits With The Swing Of A Bat

There is a Batting Cages Business for those people who... Read More

Alliances: What works, what does not

Why Alliances FailWhen do you know an alliance is falling... Read More

Covenants Not To Compete: Another Franchise Quandary

Imagine that you have operated a successful franchise business for... Read More

Competition Relations in Auto Detailing

There is significant competition in auto detailing and car washing.... Read More

How to Protect Yourself & Your Business

As a business owner, you already know how important it... Read More

Procrastinate Your Way To A Successful Small Business

What will your business look like a year from today?If... Read More

Aircraft Washing Business Tip - Interior Private Jet Cleaning

Aircraft Interiors of personal and corporate jets have hundreds of... Read More

Using Technology to Manage Customer Loyalty

Don't let your customer satisfaction research initiative collect dust on... Read More

Using Holidays to Put Some Extra Cheer in Your Cash Box

No matter your age or station in life, we all... Read More

Power Tools for Business

How do we keep track of our business deals?If you... Read More

Employee Relations Manual Sample Outline

Most smart entrepreneurs and all large corporations have Employee Relations... Read More

Increase the Wealth in Your Community

Many of us have noticed how some nearby communities seem... Read More

How to Get Started As A Government Contractor

Becoming a contractor or sub-contractor for the U.S. government can... Read More

Finding the Right Virtual Assistant for Your Small Business

Articles abound advising the business community how to properly screen... Read More

Shopping For a Franchise

Shopping for a franchise is easy if you know what... Read More

Franchising and Royalty Payments

If you are thinking of turning your current into a... Read More

Using Excel Payroll Sheet to Make Payroll System Easier

For the employees, payday is the brightest day; they finally... Read More

Successfully Adding a Service To Your Business

There will come a time in your business where you... Read More

Why Small Businesses Need Both A Logo And An Identity System

Experts urge small business owners to "brand" their business ?... Read More

Mobile Pressure Washing and Cleaning Scheduling

If you own a mobile car washing, pressure washing or... Read More

Do You Make These 7 Deadly Cash Flow Mistakes?

Managing cash flow is every small business owner's most important... Read More