Congratulations! You own your own small business! Maybe it is tiny, but it is yours!

There are lots of us in the world, hustling and working every day of the week to make our little businesses succeed. It’s a lot of work and there are many ways  to organize a small business and reduce some of our work.

This post will help if any of these are true:

  1. you have only 1-2 employees at the moment and want to grow
  2. your business process is disorganized
  3. you are the only person who knows how to run your business
  4. you are doing every task with little to no help
  5. you could use technology to be more efficient

My first recommendation for growing your business to more than one person is to read The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, by Michael E. Gerber. It’s a classic book. You could also watch youtube video summaries or ingest the book however you prefer. Just make yourself familiar with the concepts he shares: running an entire business on your own is not sustainable, and how to break out of your solopreneur patterns.

  • #protip: Use paper as needed to write check lists about what you are organizing (so if you get distracted you know where to pick up again).
  • #protip: Set aside 30-60 minutes at a time to work on organizing this stuff. Set a timer and take mental breaks to minimize mistakes.
to do list of a small business owner
to do list of a small business owner
First write down on a piece of paper which aspects of your business you want to clean up and organize: calendar? documents? training materials? payment system? finances? marketing?
Next prioritize the list and start with the most important for you.

 

Long Term Goal – Create an Operations Manual

Think of your business in terms of an outsider. If you were to go on vacation (!!), get sick, or switch to concentrate on another aspect of the business, how would someone know how to run the business?
Start to think about every task you do and how you can best communicate to someone how you do the tasks. Putting all of these explanations and instructions together will yield an Operations Manual.
Let this long term goal guide you to what you can clean up and organize now.
As you think of tasks, write down the general categories they fall into. Start a folder on your computer or piece of paper for each category. This will help you create job descriptions some day.
Here are basic categories I use.
  • Administrative – emails, data entry, appointment reminders, entering payroll, sending budget info to the bookkeeper.
  • Social Media – posting regularly, answering comments, finding new connections on socials, commenting, following trends and relevant hashtags.
  • Scheduling
  • Marketing – writing blog posts, submitting articles, creating ads, attending neighborhood events.
  • Bookkeeping 
  • Training – actual training and organizing any training materials.
  • Customer Service 
  • Client Intake 
  • Owner – everything else! including company events, performance reviews, public appearances, and emergencies of any kind.
Even if I don’t have an employee filling each of these roles, I have them clearly separated because it’s more organized and efficient. Who know, maybe one day I will retire and someone else will need to know all of the “owner” tasks I did behind the scenes.

How to start

Think of all of the basic admin tasks you do. Write those down in a document called “Admin tasks.” If you already have them written down, move them into the appropriate folder now. Look at you — organizing your business like a boss!

PS- I’m talking about electronic folders. Not manila folders. Paper is lovely, but paper is not efficient for multiple users, which you will soon have.

When a new client walks up, what do you say? What do they need to fill out? How to they pay? When do they pay? etc. etc. Write this process down in a checklist called “New Client Intake.”

What processes do you follow when someone pays? How do you keep track of who owes you money and who is paid up? Write these steps down in a checklist called “Accepting Payments” or “Bookkeeping.”

You get the idea. Keep going on this brain dump and put everything in the correct folder as you go. You’ll organize the documents inside the folders later.

Organize your small business technology

What technology are you currently using?
Use as few platforms as possible; and make sure whatever platforms you use (apps) are available and compatible with all your devices: phone and laptop, computer, tablet. And that your co-workers can also use the apps. I like google office suite for everything because it’s mostly free.

 

There are many useful apps for storing documents and photos in the cloud. If you already have something going with Dropbox or Evernote or another app, keep using it. Use it consistently and make sure you know how it works with your email program and other apps you are using. You don’t want to have to download and cut and paste a document every time you want to send it out. You want to find the document and be able click and drag it to your email or presentation easy peezy.
This is what I mean by “make sure your apps are compatible and accessible to everyone who will need them.”

Use the search feature to find all related documents in all different places. This way you aren’t re-creating documents you already have.

The search bar is your best friend when it comes to organizing and finding your own documents. Click To Tweet

Set up an electronic calendar if you haven’t already. This is essential! You can keep your paper agenda as well. But you have to be able to see your schedule any time and anywhere if you are a small business owner.

Use a phone app to scan your receipts. Keep them in a folder labeled with the calendar year. (eg. GOA receipts 2022) Now throw the receipts away. !!

Streamline repetitive tasks

Some ideas for streamlining repetitive tasks which I use often:

  1. organize all existing documents into general folders first. Further organize them later.
  2. Use the search feature to find all related documents in all different places. This way you aren’t re-creating documents you already have.
  3. Create a training video (or 2) for new employees. Add some instructions to the end of the video to make sure they watched (example – send me a copy of your completed W-9 or send me your venmo name to get paid, etc.) Upload the video to youtube with a private (viewer needs the link) setting.
  4. Use google spreadsheets to track everyone’s hours to pay them. If they don’t record their hours – they don’t get paid!
  5. Create draft emails to cut and paste for common emails. (example – Hello ________, we don’t have your payment from Jan 1, 2022. Please send it to A______ B_______ or C_________ payment options.)
  6. Create checklists for employees to use for specific situations. Laminate the checklist to give them; and also share the document (of the checklist) with them via email so they can look at it outside of work.
  7. Put all recurring events as such on your digital calendar and the calendars of your employees if applicable. (example – lesson with Nonni every monday at 230) If you don’t use a digital calendar (on your phone) you can’t expect anyone else to know what you are doing. That’s okay. It’s up to you. If you have someone doing scheduling for you they need to be able to see your calendar.
  8. Create a signature for your emails with things you want everyone to know. For example: phone number, the best way to reach you, how often you check your email, a recent piece of press you want everyone to read, or who to contact if you aren’t available.

 

Optional outsourcing

As it says in The E-Myth Revisited, you can’t do everything yourself. It’s important to figure out what you are good at and what you enjoy so you can delegate and outsource the rest!
outside apps and services which may be worth your money
  • Scheduling app to book lessons or appointments
  • Bookkeeper to organize and track your finances
  • Social media person to post things for you
  • Web developer to design and create your updated website

A great start

There will always be more organizing you could do. For now, get yourself started so you feel like you know where most of your documents are. And even more important, you know when all of your appointments are!

Thanks for reading and for getting organized already!

Sincerely,

Nonnahs
If you are in and around Pasadena, CA call get organized already for hands-on help to organize your small business.

323.230.0297

Your thoughts please