September 28, 2010

It's time to get organized

SmallBiz Stew; photo by
Today’s blog is about getting organized by creating an organization system. When you start a new business you are bombarded with information; some you keep while other papers you dump. Through-out your journey to start your business you will come upon paperwork that you must keep, like tax forms. It is important for small business owners to create a system that tracks, informs and stores the ins and outs of their business. There is so much on an owner’s plate that it is imperative for small business owners to have a system in place that will help business efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Now that you have started a business it’s now time to get organized and create a system to help you keep track of your business.  Your organizational system should be able to: store, list, track, and update.

Physical files
First things first, set up your physical files to help store and organize the abundance of information you have. You can purchase a small file cabinet or even try buying a used one. The point is to find a suitable storage where you can store your important papers.

Tip: Humans are creatures of habit, (at least I know I am), so it is best to get in the habit of utilizing your filling system and storing your information in the appropriate places soon as you get them.

I have divided the organization flow into four different parts: financial, supply, operation and legal. This will help you identify quickly where to file and find your information. Use the list below as a guide to help you decide what files you need and how to label them.

Financial ­– More and more companies are choosing to send bills electronically as a way to cut back on cost, and to be more eco-friendly (well at least I like think they are). However, there are companies who still send those ‘irritating’ little reminders of our debt through the mail. Your financial folder is where you will store your bill copies as well as bank statements and any other financial information. 

File folders:
  • Account Payable
  • Payroll
  • Banking
  • Recipes

Supply-The first business that I started was selling information and I met vendor during a convention that I attended. He was selling As Seen on TV products, but at the time it didn’t fit with my current business. Even though I didn’t have any use for his service, I still held on to his contact information. A year later when I started my next business adventure I remembered the contact I made and because I kept up with his information, I didn’t have to worry about the hassle of finding a vendor. You may not need the service of a specific supplier at the time but it may come a time in the future when you may need it. So it’s a good idea to have a system in place to keep track of suppliers and distributors, even the ones you are not actively working with

File folders:
  • Distributors
  • Equipment
  • Suppliers
Operation- If you plan to have employees then it will be necessary to have a system set up to keep up with your employee’s information such as tax forms. Your operational folders should maintain all the pertinent information needed to maintain your business from marketing to your support system. Your Operation files will be the most used files you have.

File folders:
  • Customer contact
  • Customer service
  • Entertainment/meals
  • Personnel files
  • Marketing
  • Network Contacts
  • Associations/Support

Legal- Since it’s required to keep your tax papers it is only makes sense that you have a system in place to keep track of this information. Your legal folders should contain all your legal paperwork or information for easy access.

File Folders:
Miscellaneous Information

Computer files

I’ve always been a stickler about having a paper and an electronic tracking system. Although, I keep important papers, I also scan them into my computer system and keep them stored on a disc or a flash drive for safe keeping. So of course I am going to encourage you to do the same. Not all the information you receive should be kept and a lot of times a scanned copy will work in lieu of the hardcopy.  You need to create a system on your computer that will allow you track and store important information.

One of my favorite parts of Microsoft Office is their program OneNote which allows you to keep track of your business in one place. You can create different tabs and store and track different aspects of your business. Most new computers come with an abundance of programs that are designed to keep you and your small business organized. Check out SBS blog Software that's perfect for your budget For more on affordable software you can use to manage your business. Another useful blog that gives some great insight on home business software is The Freelance Sourc.

Company statistic sheet

Even though I’m discussing this last this actually should be the first file added to your organization system, and that’s your company statistic sheet (CSS).

Your CSS should list all your business vital statistics. This will store all your important information and dates related to your business and should always be easily accessible. A copy should be filed under Operation and also stored electronically.

Your CSS should include the following:
  • Company name
  • Ownership (with the necessary ownership percentage listed as well)
  • Tax-id
  • State-id
  • Date of incorporation
  • Corporation number
  • Licenses
  • Permit#
  • Insurance provider/agent
  • Insurance number
  • Date of instatement
As you grow and change, you should keep track of your vital statistics, this will come in handy as times goes on.  Having all this information accessible in one place will save you valuable time.

Now you are ready to start implementing your organization system and getting your small business organized. 
What is in your business organization system?

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