As a business owner you know you need to keep track of your books, reports, documents, and receipts, but you also realize you’re not a naturally organized person. Well, props to you for recognizing one of your weaknesses. It doesn’t mean you are a weak person. You simply need to develop some habits for how to stop being disorganized.
These are not best practices, per se, but if you are unorganized, even completely unorganized, these are minimum simple tips to get some sort of organization in your business in order to be successful.
You probably know both organized and unorganized people. Maybe even within the same family. There is nothing wrong with that. Creative types tend to be more unorganized because structure like that feels stifling. It seems to me organization is learned, not inherited.
Individuals have their way of doing things and that’s fine. I would argue that for a business to be successful, it needs some form of organization in place. With that in mind we’ll get into 4 tips to add a little bit of structure into your business.
The unorganized business owner hates doing their books. The things we hate doing tend to get put off the most. This means that you may go months without getting them done. And the more you procrastinate, the messier they get, which makes you want to procrastinate even more.
At the bare minimum, schedule yourself some time once a week or twice a month to just sit down and get them done. And honor that time! If you don’t, it will turn into a huge year-end project that you’ll really hate, and the cycle starts all over again.
As a business owner you are responsible for the success or failure of your company. You need to be able to identify trends in order to make proper decisions and the only way to do that is to look at your reports on a consistent basis.
You don’t have to look at every report available under the sun. Just pick 3-5 metrics, or KPIs, that you feel are most important for you to run the company and look at them once a week or every month.
When it comes to your bank or loan accounts it’s helpful to know how long your bank will hold onto your statements. If you need to access 10 years of statements and your bank only holds onto them for 3 years, you will have to jump through a lot of hoops to retrieve them. It’s much easier to just print them every month or even just once a year and save them.
If you can access them online, you don’t even need to print them. You can just save them to your desktop or Drop Box or whatever you prefer, and just save them there. If you receive them via email every month you can just create a folder in your in-box and save the whole email, easy-peasy. The important thing is to save them and know where they are when you need them.
There are so many companies that offer emailed receipts now. I love this because I used to keep all of my receipts in file folders divided by grocery, clothing, electronics, etc. But if I needed to exchange a shirt it was a pain to search through the entire clothing folder for one PacSun receipt. Now I just have folders in my in-box for each retailer and I save them there. It’s so convenient I don’t even have to remember to bring the receipt, I can just pull it up on my phone.
For those of you who are old school and prefer to hold onto a paper receipt, or for companies that don’t offer email, find a place to keep them that works for you. A filing cabinet or drawer will work. You don’t have to have separate hanging folders for each type of receipt like I did. But it’s the same idea as your documents, just make sure you have one assigned location to keep them, even if it’s an old shoebox. Seriously, if you do nothing else, shove them anywhere you like, as long as you hang on to them. They will save your bacon in case of an audit. We’ve seen it happen.
See, that’s not bad. No major skills to learn, just a few simple tips. It’s OK not to enjoy structure or routine. You’re the creative one who started your own business so get creative and find a solution for how to stop being disorganized. If you need to hire someone else to do it then that’s OK too. Walt Disney’s success grew exponentially when he hired his brother to manage the financial records just like we talked about.
That’s the beauty of hiring an accountant, so you don’t have to worry about keeping every single aspect of your finances organized. We’ll do it for you!
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