The new year is a great time to take a step back and re-assess: How organized do you feel right now on a scale of 1-10? In the highly unlikely event you answered 10, you can stop reading right now. For the rest of us, there are many small changes you can make today so tomorrow is a whole lot more efficient.
Investing some extra time organizing these 8 areas of your business will offer great pay-offs when it comes to business growth down the road.
1. Organize Your Content Marketing Efforts
Effective content marketing makes it easier for prospective clients to find you and trust you. As a small business owner, you likely don’t have hours to spend on content strategy, creation and circulation. That’s why organizing your efforts is so important. Here are a few ways to do this:
- Create an editorial calendar. Ensure you’re creating content on a consistent basis by scheduling it all in a calendar. Not sure where to get started? Content Marketing Institute offers some great tools, tips and a free template. (Pro tip: You don’t have to publish content every day. It’s better to publish fewer, high quality pieces that your audience will find super valuable.)
- Choose social media wisely. There are so many social networks out there it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Think about who your audience is and what channels they are likely to use. Start off by having a presence on only 1 or two and then add more if it makes sense. Creating a social media strategy is a great way to take see a bird’s eye view of where you are and ensure all of your efforts are very intentional and effective.
- Outsource. If you have some extra money in your budget, think about hiring a freelance writer to help fill out the editorial calendar. Sites like Upwork can help you source the perfect writers for your posts.
2. Perfect Your Project Management
Regardless of your business size, situations are likely to arise when you need to manage and coordinate projects with other contractors or teams of employees. Becoming an organized leader will greatly increase the likelihood of knocking it out of the park. A couple ways you can sharpen your project management skills:
- Invest in a project management software. Solutions like Yalla or Basecamp allow you to easily assign work to employees and contractors and keep lines of communication flowing without friction.
- Establish project milestones. Build out a schedule with specific project achievements so everyone knows what is expected and by when.
3. Strive for Flawless Finances
Business finances may not be your favorite aspect of doing business, but it’s an essential one. You can grow your business faster (and avoid an audit) by keeping your financial ducks in a row. Do this by gaining a strong understanding of your expenses, expected tax filing and working capital.
Here are a couple small things you can do to make a huge impact on your financial organization:
- Invest in cloud software. Use a system (like FreshBooks) to keep income, expenses and projects organized. This way your financial reporting will be a breeze, especially at tax time. Since it’s cloud-based, you can also manage your finances anytime, anywhere which will decrease chances you’ll overlook something important.
- Set a budget. This basic but essential financial move will help you project income, manage expenses, and be prepared for the unexpected.
4. Streamline Your Scheduling
If you are using more than one app or calendar for scheduling, now’s probably a good time to consolidate. Having both your personal and professional life in one place will ensure you don’t miss anything important or double book yourself.
Some effective (and mostly free) tools include:
- Google Calendar (Free for iOS and Android)
- Cal (Free for iOS and Android)
- TeuxDeux ($3/month, iOS only)
5. Review Your Payroll Process
Keeping your employees and contractors happy should be high on your list of priorities. After all, what will your output look like without a happy and motivated team? Take stock of your payroll process: Have there been any issues over the past year that resulted in someone getting paid late, or not being paid at all? Are there any opportunities to streamline? Is it possible to reduce the amount of time and money payroll is costing the business?
After you audit your current situation, try seeing if one of these super helpful payroll solutions to help solve any issues you flagged (and the best part: they both integrate seamlessly to your FreshBooks account!):
Related: Try FreshBooks Free for 30 Days
6. Organize Your Office
With close to 90% of the global workforce being unsatisfied with their work environment, odds are there are some improvements you can make to boost your own office productivity. Whether you work in an office, at home or in a shared workspace, there’s lots you can do to create an environment that promotes performance and overall happiness such as:
- Purge unnecessary clutter. Anything you haven’t used in a while? Toss it (or donate it). Go through those towering piles of documents and file or shred & recycle unneeded paperwork.
- Organize your archives. Purchase inexpensive storage boxed and/or binders to file away important paperwork, receipts and other items that don’t need to be accessed often.
- Go green. A little bit of green can go a long way. In fact, a study has shown that productivity can increase by 15% with a little office flora.
7. Always Be Learning
Research all of the major conventions or conferences you’d like to attend for the year. Choose the ones that would best help you with your business objectives, commit to attend them and block them off in your calendar. This will help ensure you don’t overbook yourself and can plan projects accordingly.
Check out this list of can’t-miss conferences for a jump-start in your search.
8. Master Time Management
Time management–It can make or break the success of your projects and your overall productivity. If you have yet to find a system that works for you, here are some tried, tested and true technique to try out:
- Test the Pomodoro Technique. For this technique, you work in 25 minute chunks of time separated by 5 minute breaks. This can help improve short term focus by knowing a break is never far away.
- Try the ABCDE Method. This method is a good one to use if you have so much to do you don’t even know where to start. It can help determine where to begin, what to finish and where to end—taking you from overwhelmed to ready, one step at a time.
- Abide by the 80/20 Rule. The general principle, as it applies your workflow, is that 20% of your effort yields 80% of the result. For example, being able to identify which clients or projects take the least effort and pay the most can put your business growth in hyperdrive.
Not sure if you’re using your time wisely? Consider keeping a time log. It can help you see where your hours are being spent and if you’re using them effectively.
Do you have any tips to help other business owners become more organized? Let us know in the comments below.
This is an archived post from the FreshBooks Blog and was originally published in January 2016.
About the Author: Amanda is a content editor at FreshBooks, writing and producing blog content to help small business owners achieve their goals and enjoy (yes, actually enjoy!) running their business. Amanda’s background in education and customer support makes her a natural communicator who loves empowering others to succeed. When she’s not writing and editing content, Amanda takes her dog, Jonny, on adventures searching for the best coleslaw in Toronto.