The 9 Hour Small Business Tune-Up Hour 3
You can’t completely organize your business in an hour. It could take anywhere from a few hours to several years, depending on its complexity.
This section is designed to make you aware of the areas of your business that could use improvement. After completing this section you’ll have a workable plan, complete most of it, and know what needs to be done in the future.
A good rule of thumb is that if you have a small business and can get organized in a day or two, you should take the time off to get it done in one step, provided it doesn’t inconvenience your customers. If you have a large business, concentrate on one section at a time, and take a certain amount of time each day or week to complete it section by section. It doesn’t really matter how long it takes as long as you keep at it constantly and it gets completed.
With an organized business, you’ll find pleasure in your work. Imagine knowing exactly where everything is, from files to products, and having everything easily accessible. You and your staff will become more effective. If you get into the habit of organization you’ll find running the business becomes easier and easier as time goes by, and most of all you will have peace of mind.
Unfortunately, your business will not become organized by itself. You have to take the time to organize it and keep it organized. If you spend a month organizing your business it won’t mean anything if it’s not going to stay that way. It can easily become unorganized in a matter of days. Be sure that when you are in the organization process, areas are being organized in a way that will allow them to stay that way.
For example, if you put some often used items on a shelf, make sure you don’t put stacks of other things on top of them, or when those items are needed you’ll have to remove all the products on the shelf to get to what you need. This becomes tedious, and when you’re in a hurry you may not put things back where they belong, causing clutter all over again.
We all accumulate clutter. It seems to be composed of magazines, papers, office supplies, and weird items that seem to pop up out of nowhere and find a comfortable place on your desk or around your office. Clutter should not be allowed to accumulate.
To get around this, create what I call a “Put Away Box.” When something is on my desk or in my office that needs to be put away, I just put it in the “Put Away Box,” and once a week I take 10-20 minutes to put everything away. I find this easier than putting every unimportant thing in its proper place as I encounter it. A “Put Away Box” saves time because many of the items may be similar and could be put away in one trip.
For example, I make one trip to the filing cabinet on the day I clean up my “Put Away Box.” This saves me 20 separate trips during the week. I want to emphasize that this practice is for unimportant items and excludes paperwork like bills or urgent issues. I pin important papers to my bulletin board so that I attend to them in a timely manner, usually on the same day.
Organize your desk so that it is easy to reach all your office supplies, such as your stapler, paper clips, and your most important files, without getting up. Make sure your desk is clear of anything you don’t use regularly. The smallest paper or object could distract you from the job at hand.
Organizing and Locating Items:
Do you have a problem finding things when you need them? A lot of us do. You can take care of this by getting some boxes and labeling each one, or a cabinet, or adjustable shelving.
This is an example of the subsequent organization:
- 1 box for computer parts,
- 1 box for office machine parts,
- 1 box for electrical items such as adapters, etc.,
- 1 box for vehicle information,
- 1 box for temporary items that you are not sure you will keep,
- 1 box for product warranties or manuals, and
- 1 box for miscellaneous.
Exercise 1: Boxing It Up:
Look around your office at all the items you would like to box up. Make a list of categories so that similar items will be in one box.
When you’re ready to put everything in boxes, get the boxes and create the labels before attempting to organize things or you’ll end up with a mess! When the boxes are ready and labeled, you’ll find the process goes rather quickly and easily.
Get one or two large filing cabinets with lockable drawers and organize them as follows:
One drawer for customer files, including all paperwork regarding your customers. Each customer should have their own file, organized alphabetically by last name. Each file may contain information such as sale transactions, personal information, support issues, unresolved issues, contracts, etc.
One drawer for suppliers’ files, including all paperwork information related to your suppliers. Each supplier should have his own file, organized alphabetically by company name. Each file may contain information such as purchases, company information, unresolved issues, contracts, product lines, etc.
One drawer for employee records. Use this drawer for all paperwork regarding your employees. Each employee should have his own file, organized alphabetically by last name. Each file may contain information such as date of employment, personal information, date of hiring, attendance records, salary, accident history, benefits issues, unresolved issues, contracts, evaluation records, complaints, etc.
One drawer for often used files. Use an upper drawer for this purpose so you don’t have to bend down a lot. You would use this drawer for day-to-day records that need to be filed, such as sales in progress, active customer files, purchases, orders that have not been received, bills, etc.
One drawer for the storage of yearly records such as taxes, purchase and sale transactions, etc.
One drawer for maintenance and repairs. Use this drawer for items such as warranties, vehicle maintenance, building expenses, depreciable items, etc.
Modify the above in the way that works best for you. The point is to come up with something that will be easy, effective, and regularly used by you.
Exercise 2: Filing Your Records:
Make a detailed list of the best way to organize your records.
- Legal documents
- Customer files
- Promotional material
- office expenses
- Advertising expenses
- Make your own list here:
Your computer should be positioned for ease of use. People often make the mistake of setting up their computers in cramped and awkward places. I have even seen right-handed people using their left hands operate their mouse simply because they didn’t set up the computers properly. A tool as important as a computer should be set up with 25% more space than needed.
Your computer is your best friend, but it can also be your worst enemy. When your computer is running smoothly with the right software, it can save you literally thousands of hours of time and can even do things you wouldn’t want to or couldn’t do yourself.
But, when your computer starts acting up, you end up hating it and start fighting the beast. Computers are great, but when you start installing many different types of software and downloading unknown utilities from the Internet, your computer’s operating system gets cluttered and unstable and works more slowly.
Also, beware of viruses, which can slow down or wreck your computer. Get a legitimate anti-virus program for your computer. This doesn’t necessarily mean paying a lot for anti-virus software but do some research. Some of the best anti-virus software is free, but other free “anti-virus” software is actually malicious software in disguise.
Maintaining Your Computer:
Get into the habit of backing up your data. If your computer crashes, it is not as big a problem if the data is safe. Data is the files that you created, not the programs that created them. Programs can be reinstalled but data is irreplaceable. It’s your fortune.
I have 14 years of data consisting of programming codes, designs, and other important documents on my computer. If anything happened to this data I can’t explain how profoundly it would affect me. It would be like losing a part of me that is irreplaceable. It would be gone forever!
If you don’t have a backup system in place and you have important files on your computer, make it your number one priority to get one in place otherwise, the data you lose could be devastating.
What follows is a step by step description of how I back up my data, 98% of which is in one directory, allowing me to make a quick and error-free backup in minutes.
My computer contains two hard drives. Drive C is where the operating system and programs are located and D drive, which is removable is where all the data files are stored. I have installed removable hard disk bays in three of my computers. That way, I can just switch my DATA from computer to computer and access all my files on any one of them.
I also keep a copy of my data on each computer. This is especially helpful because one of the computers is off-site.
With this type of setup, it only takes a few minutes for me to make a backup. I just copy the DATA directory from Drive D and paste it to the desktop of the computer I am using.
Exercise 3: Protecting Your Data:
Make a detailed list of precautions you can take to protect and organize your electronic data.
If your not computer savvy, consult with someone who is. Make a directory just for all the important files that you must have copies of so the person completing the backup knows what to save.
Eliminating Wasted Time, and Getting the Most Use of Your Time:
Time is one of the most precious gifts to mankind. It is a resource that is often neglected and abused. Each day we have the same number of hours and minutes to use as we wish. What would a person with two months left to live, give for more time? When we waste our time, it’s gone forever!
We need time for work, pleasure, family, reflection, setting goals, and relaxation. Using a timetable will help you make the most of your time. A timetable will help you organize and complete your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks with less effort because they will be laid out beforehand.
The Following Activities Can Take More Time Than You Realize:
- Talking on the phone to chat or gossip.
- Time in online chat rooms.
- Computer games
- Wandering from task to task.
- Watching TV
- Your timetable should only be used as a guide because there will be occasions when you are thrown off schedule. Don’t kick yourself for this. Sometimes the unexpected happens and we have to change our plans for that day. Your timetable can be very simple or it can be complex. Do whatever makes you most comfortable.
Exercise 4: Creating a Timetable:
Make a timetable like the one above or something similar that works best for you.