What you’ll learn

  • Why organization matters for small businesses 
  • How to manage your workload and prioritize tasks 
  • How to organize your business for success 

Introduction

If you’re a small business owner or a full-time freelancer, you might have a lot in common with one particularly majestic creature of the sea: the octopus. 

Your days are likely jam-packed with dozens of tasks vying for your attention, from managing emails to finalizing orders to delivering against critical project deadlines. And you could probably benefit from having a few extra hands (tentacles?) to help you stay organized. 

Unfortunately, you’re not an octopus—you’re a mere mortal! And for our species, staying organized is all about systems. Developing a standard process for admin tasks like client onboarding, email correspondence, and invoicing/billing will help you succeed. 

Here’s everything you need to know about organizing your small business. 

Importance of organization

There are plenty of good reasons to get your business organized.

One of the most important is that it can help you avoid mistakes. When you lack organization, you can easily lose track of details, forget important deadlines, and miss opportunities. These little mistakes can lead to angry clients, lost revenue, reputational damage, and many other problems.

Research shows that the average executive spends a whopping 150 hours a year searching for lost data. That’s nearly a month of wasted time! Being organized can make it easier to find information when you need it and improve efficiency across the board. 

If you have a system in place for managing your tasks, you can avoid spending energy on things that aren’t important. That increased efficiency leads to improved productivity, which in turn can pump up your revenue and help your business grow.

Organizing your business for success

If you’re wondering how to organize your business for success, try the following tips.

Declutter your workspaces

One of the first best things you can do in the process of getting organized? Declutter your physical and digital workspaces. (Pro tip: want some gentle encouragement and inspo? Turn on the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo while you work.)

Start by going through your office or workspace and removing anything you don’t need. Old paperwork, unused office supplies, and other clutter can take up valuable space and make it harder to focus. If you’re unsure what to keep and what to throw away, err on the side of caution. It’s always easier to get rid of something later than to find something you’ve thrown away. (Marie might not concur with this advice.) 

Next, turn your attention to digital spaces by going through your email inbox, computer files, and social media accounts. Delete anything that’s no longer relevant, such as old emails, outdated proposals, or unused social handles.

Develop clear processes

Once you’ve decluttered your workspace, it’s time to develop some clear processes. Take a look at everything from how you communicate with clients to how you manage your finances. See if you’re operating as efficiently as possible.

For instance, let’s say you have a small housekeeping business. You might develop the following process for cleaning a client’s house:

  • The client contacts the business to request a quote.
  • You provide a quote and, if the client accepts, schedule a time for the cleaning.
  • You add the client details (name, contact info, address, special instructions for the gig)

in an employee portal for easy access, updates, and tracking. 

  • An employee arrives at the scheduled time and cleans the house.
  • The client is invoiced and pays for the cleaning.

Communicate with your team so everyone understands the expectations and can give feedback. The employee schedules and client information should get posted online so they don’t have to call the office and clog the phones. Doing so will create a unified, automated resource that will give your employees access to the information they need.

Clear processes will make it easier for you and your employees, as everyone will have a step-by-step guide to follow.

Automate where possible

Technology can be a huge help with getting organized. Automating mundane tasks can free up your time, so you can focus on revenue-generating activities.

For example, you might use a payments platform like Hopscotch to automate invoicing and keep an accurate track of your finances. This way, you don’t have to waste time doing manual invoices or chasing down late payments. 

You can also integrate your QuickBooks account with Hopscotch to improve the overall accuracy of your financial reporting on balance sheets, cash flow statements, and other customizable reports by ensuring that payment data is automatically reconciled between the two platforms—no chance for human error or oversight to undermine your business. 

By automating more tasks and systems, you protect the overall integrity of your operational data. This also gives you more time back in the day-to-day experience of running your business. 

Build a strong team

As a business owner, you can’t do everything on your own, so building a strong team that you can rely on is essential. Your team can include employees, contractors, vendors, and even virtual assistants.

Outsourcing some of your work can be a great way to start getting organized. The extra help gives you time to focus on the big picture instead of getting bogged down in small details.

Keep track of your finances

Tracking your finances is a vital part of guiding your business to success. Budgeting, forecasting, and cash flow management can help you stay organized and manage your resources effectively. 

Let’s say you’re looking to invest in a new suite of software—you need to consult your budget to determine how much you can spend relative to the overall impact that software will have on improving your operational costs. So having accurate financial records is crucial. 

Forecasting can also help you predict future trends and adjust your budget accordingly. For example, you might forecast that a client is leaving at the end of the quarter. This projection would allow you to adjust your budget, make any operational changes, and stay ahead of cash flow changes.

Tools like Hopscotch Flow offer on-demand access to revenue tied up in outstanding invoices and so you can pump up your cash flow depending on business performance throughout the year. 

Manage your workload

As a small business owner, managing your workload is important. You want to avoid burnout at all costs. 

Creating a to-do list or working in dedicated blocks of time can help. Write down everything you need to do, and then rank the items in order of importance. Block out time to get each task done if necessary with those of the highest priority getting completed first.

Another way to manage your workload is to delegate tasks. For example, you might delegate customer service inquiries to a virtual assistant.

The bottom line

Organizing a small business can be challenging, but it’s essential for success. By following these tips, you can create processes that will make running your business easier and your goals more attainable.

Remember, proper organization is often a trial-and-error process. Don’t get discouraged if things don’t go perfectly at first. Just keep working at it, and you’ll find a system that works for you.

Want to start by organizing your payment process? Sign up for a free Hopscotch account today. You can pay and get paid instantly with zero fees. Send branded invoices, generate auto-reminders, and manage your cash flow all in one place.