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How to Keep Your Small Business Organized

Perhaps you’ve heard the notion that messy people are more creative and successful. But you should take that idea with a grain of salt. The people peddling these ideas are typically extremely disorganized individuals who are desperate to justify their disheveled existence. Common sense – and ample evidence – paint a much different picture. And if you’re a small business owner, getting organized represents your ticket to long-term success.

6 Tips for Organizing Your Business

An organized business outperforms a disorganized one any day of the week. By getting information, systems, and processes in order, you save time, improve financial management, streamline customer service, simplify taxes, and reduce stress.

Depending on your current state of affairs, getting everything cleaned up could take days, weeks, or months. But regardless of how deeply disorganized you are, you have to start somewhere. Here are a few ideas:

1. Say Goodbye to Paper

Overflowing filing cabinets, stacks of paper on your desk, a mailbox that’s bursting at the seams – these are all symptoms of total and utter lack of organization. But the good news is that you can reduce your dependency on paper and go almost completely digital. It just requires a little bit of work on the front end.

The first step is to stop the flow of paper into your office. Unsubscribe from all paper statements, mailers, etc. If it’s something you need, opt for the digital version. The next step is to digitize any physical documents that you currently have on hand (and that need to be kept). A solution like Genius Scan or Shoeboxed can help.

2. Declutter Your Desktop

Your computer desktop says a lot about you. If it’s a jumbled mess of files and folders, you’ll find it difficult to think clearly. Take some time to dig in and declutter. Consolidate where you can, delete what you don’t need, and utilize a simple system that’s effective with your workflow.

3. Organize Your Passwords

Most of us use one of two systems for managing passwords. Either we use the same password for every website (which isn’t secure), or we use a different one for each password (which leads to constantly forgetting and resetting passwords). Neither method is ideal.

The good news is that you can easily organize passwords with a password manager like 1Password or LastPass. These solutions ask you to create one master password to manage all of your other passwords. Best of all, it allows you to log into all of your accounts regardless of what device or network you’re on.

4. Develop a Knowledge Management System

As your business grows, so does your company’s internal knowledge, information, and resources. And if you don’t develop a system for collecting, organizing, and accessing it, you’ll become victimized by inefficiencies and blind spots.

The best strategy is to develop a knowledge management system that allows you to easily access, share, and update business knowledge in a simple and cost-effective manner. This promotes clarity and informs more accurate decision-making, creativity, and collaboration.

5. Create an Email System

Email is a necessity in business, but it’s also a huge timesuck. Between you and your employees, you’re wasting thousands of hours every year on email management (and getting very little value in return). But by creating a system for triaging emails, eliminating junk, and prioritizing which messages need to be acted on, you can easily cut your email time in half.

There’s no right or wrong email system. It’s a very personal choice. You’ll have to find or create a system that works with how you process information, the types of emails you receive, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses reside.

6. Use the Right Productivity Tools

Organization doesn’t happen by accident. If you want to get your business in order, you need to set up some guardrails and systems to help you stay on track. Thankfully, there are a number of productivity tools that make this simple. Here’s a list of 40 good productivity tools to get you started.

Give Your Business a Chance

Disorganized businesses can survive (and even thrive) for many years. But things eventually fall apart. If you want to build a sustainable business that’s profitable in the short-term and viable for sale or acquisition in the future, now’s the time to get your things in order. What are you waiting for?

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