November 1, 2014

10 Tips For Organizing Your Small Business This Year

organizing your small business

An organized business is a productive business. You may not consider yourself blessed with natural organizational skills, but now is the perfect time to get your business and work space organized.

Below are 10 tips to help you do that and get on track in the new year.

How to Organize Your Small Business

Purge Your Office

Even if you don’t mind a little mess and dust, too much clutter can add to daily stress and chaos. Clutter exists because we think that everything is important. With the new year, toss out whatever is outdated, no longer relevant or a duplicate.

For example:

  • Recycle the broken electronics you may have stashed in a closet.
  • Delete all those old voice messages.
  • Donate anything you don’t need or use.
  • Keep the basics and anything you’ve used in the past year; all else can go.

When your workspace is clean and uncluttered, you’ll enjoy spending time at your desk and won’t waste time searching through junk or moving piles around.

Organize Your Paper Files

One study found that the average person wastes over 4 hours per week searching for papers. Go through your filing cabinets and shred anything that’s out of date or no longer relevant to your business.

If you’re worried you might one day need four-year old notes from a client project, then scan the originals and throw out the paper files to make more room.

Ditch Paper Receipts

Considering the IRS accepts electronic copies of receipts, there’s really no reason for you to continue hanging on to all those tiny paper slips from restaurants, taxis, office supply stores, etc.

Find a receipt management scanner or app for your smartphone (such as Neat Receipts) and make sure your solution lets you export data to whatever expense reporting/accounting app you use.

Use the Cloud for Storage and Sharing

If you haven’t done so already, start using cloud-based tools to share and save documents. For example, Google Drive lets you store up to 15GB for free, while giving clients or colleagues access to collaborate. Other tools include Dropbox and Box.

By housing files in the cloud, you can help clean up your personal storage, as well as save valuable time spent emailing documents back and forth when collaborating with others.

Tame Your Inbox

If your email inbox has become a catchall for every email you’ve received over the past years, it’s time to clean house. It is possible to manage your email inbox so you only see the messages you still need to deal with and everything else is neatly archived for safe keeping. Start with a clean slate by filing away everything you no longer need to respond to.

Next, tame the level of new emails you get each day by unsubscribing to newsletters or other subscriptions you no longer read. Create specific folders where non-essential emails go automatically, so they don’t interrupt your daily flow.

Get the Right Note-Taking Tool

One key to staying organized and effective as a small business owner is having the right solution for jotting down any tasks or inspirations when they strike.

Whether you prefer to use pen and paper, voice recording on your smartphone or an app like Evernote, the most important thing is that the solution fits into your lifestyle so you’ll use it consistently.

Tidy Up Your Social Media Profiles

It’s not just your email inbox and desktop that fall prey to clutter. Your social media profiles can also become clogged and out of date.

First, take stock of where your business has a social presence and drop any accounts that are no longer in use. There’s no point in having multiple Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Instagram profiles if you’re not actively posting and monitoring each account.

You can also use a tool like JustUnfollow to weed out any followers who are inactive or aren’t following you back.

Meet with a Tax Advisor

Don’t wait until it’s time to file your returns to start thinking about taxes. Make an appointment with a CPA or tax advisor early in the year.

If your business is still structured as a sole proprietor, now’s the time to think about protecting your personal assets and gaining other benefits through a formal business structure like an LLC or corporation.

Take Charge of Your Books

If you run a small business, you already have some kind of process in place for invoicing, processing payments, recording expenses and tracking projects. But if you haven’t updated your process lately, chances are there’s an app out there to help make these administrative tasks easier and more efficient.

Take a look at your tablet/smartphone app store for a new tool that could help you get organized and take charge of your books in the new year.  For example, there’s FreshBooks, Mint, Kashoo, and InDinero to name a few.

Tie Up Any Legal Loose Ends

This is a perfect opportunity to tie up any loose ends you’ve been putting off in prior years. For example, did you file a DBA (Doing Business As) for your business name? Did you get a Tax ID number? Are all your licenses and local permits in order? Did you make any changes to your corporation and LLC and still need to file an Articles of Amendment to record those changes with the state?

What other tips can you offer to get your business organized this year?

Organization Concept Photo via Shutterstock

27 Comments ▼
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Nellie Akalp


Nellie Akalp Nellie Akalp is CEO of CorpNet, her second incorporation filing service based on her strong passion to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs in starting their business. Free guides, advice and videos on small business legal topics are available at her Small Biz Corner.

27 Reactions

  1. I agree with the utilization of cloud. It is important to keep everything minimalistic by purging everything that you don’t need. Of course, this will still depend on how you work. From here, you can determine the things that you need and don’t need.

  2. Your email inbox and desktop may fall prey to clutter. Your social media profiles can also become clogged and out of date. It is time to organize and de-clutter things for any small businesses.

  3. Can’t stress the importance of cloud enough. There was another study conducted recently that showed that the average cost of printing and couriering official documents in the US was $30 – just imagine the amount of money that could be saved if all these documents were on the cloud.

    Anand

  4. Excellent reminder to what is available for small business…With using cloud storage the key. Thanks for your tips.

  5. Great tips for small businesses.
    Organizing your desk important especially is great to get rid of papers that just take up space and you don’t need anymore.

  6. I joined Dropbox couple of days ago and I AM IN LOVE! Why I didn’t join sooner is beyond me.

    My next task is email spring cleaning. I make it a rule not to have more than 500 emails, but lately it’s been creeping up. It’s now approaching 600. Need to nip it in the bud. Want to get it back down to 500, and eventually down to half of that. Pray for me :).

  7. Dropbox is like an answer to my prayers. I just love it. I can sync everything on it and I can access my dropbox account on my laptop, smartphone, etc. Very straightforward and easy to use. It can really help in keeping your files organized.

    • Been hearing about Dropbox for a while, Eds, before I finally downloaded it. What prompted that was my computer dying on me temporarily. I hadn’t backed things up either. Once it was fixed, Dropbox became my best’est friend :).

  8. Opting for a cloud-hosted Bookkeeping solution can do multiple things to help organize your business. For example QuicBooks cloud-hosted has a document management system that can help you streamline your back office and go paperless, inherent paperless billing solutions, as well as the ability to access your books from anywhere, including a tablet or phone.

  9. Great article! I also believe it’s best to meet with your tax adviser more than just a couple of times in the year. It can really help a business stay on track and know where they need to improve before it’s to late. Thanks for sharing!

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