Every week I get emails from aspiring start up business owners, wanting tips and tricks of the trade. If these girls and guys are brave enough to reach out and email, I figured there must be others out there pondering the same.
4. Get Organised!
As mentioned last week, the number one time-zapper from working life (or life in general, actually) it a lack of organisation. I am naturally a very organised person - from keeping a tidy home to a tidy inbox, if I let stuff pile up it really starts to cause anxiety and I find it seriously counter productive! Obviously everyone has their own systems that work for them but if you find yourself in a flap on a daily basis, here are some tips and tricks for getting organised in a variety of business areas.
- keep a spreadsheet, for everything! I've got spreadsheets for; suppliers, contacts, stockists, pricing, products, photographers, sample callout, press, book keeping, targets and ideas. I upload them all to my skydrive so if I need to access any of them on the move, I can with ease. No more frantically searching my inbox for that press email from last August, or ordering the wrong material because I couldn't remember the exact product code. If you're starting from scratch, try to make a new spreadsheet each month. I've got you started with my basic book keeping Excel template, available to download here. If it feels like too big a task to go through 3/4 years of emails for noteable contacts, add those from the last month and start afresh.
- my (many) harddrives are a bit of organised chaos but implementing my new desktop organiser has made it sooo much easier to access the files I use regularly, quickly! Categorising it in such a visual way stops that latest article getting lost in my downloads folder or piece of inspiration getting lost on my (hugely expanding) Pinterest board. I've made my template fully customisable with your own logo, column names and schedule all easy to add available to download for the price of a cup of tea. Save yourself hours of doing your own and get organised today!
- blog editorial calender. I'm using the calender section on my desktop organiser for my regular features and then placing the text document on top for one off pieces I'm in the process of writing. You'll be surprised how easy it is having the visual nudge to get it finished on time - I'm now scheduled a week in advance! *smug face*
- inbox folders. (or mailboxes for macmail) This is a work in progress for me but with over 10,000 emails stored on my computer, moving the important ones or things that need chasing (eg, wholesale leads) to a seperate folder is a life saver.
- template emails. if you don't do this already, why not?! I've got templates from everything from order updates to PR requests. They may not admit it, but people expect an immediate reply to emails these days so filling in a few notes on a template is so much better than not replying at all. If it was that important it required a personal response, they'd pick up the phone. IF you need to elaborate, at least the skeleton of your response is already down for you.
- invest in some storage (a total work in progress for me!) If you're a jeweller, it goes without saying that little drawers for each individual component is going to be hugely beneficial rather than rummaging around in a big box marked 'supplies'
- implement 'just in time' production methods - bag up your components for each individual product and then at a glance you'll know how many you've got in stock (but if like me, some of your components are for multi products, you can still nick it from the bag to complete an order if you need to!)
- create a packing station. I've repurposed a moo.com shipping box into a shipping supplies container - postcards, stickers, airmail labels etc all live here, alongside ribbon, scissors, sellotape and affiliate marketing materials. try to do all your order processing for the day at once, it'll save so much time!
- do you photograph new products a lot? Make life easier for yourself and set up a little mini studio. For 'white out' background shots I've got a large piece of white card, placed on a work surface and taped to the wall (to create a curve) in a well lit area. This has saved me hours and hours of time in photoshop (but I do have to get rid of paw prints quite regularly!)
- paper and phone, because you never know when you might lose either! For me, I need to have pretty much everything noted down but having one big A4 diary just doesn't work, the details seem to overwhelming sometimes. The calender on my phone records meetings, events and 'stuff I need to be at'. The reminders part of my phone is little menial tasks (usually life based so it doesn't clog up work!) but also asides like 'send samples to x' that I can put in in advance. My paper diary is how I plan my week - I'll look at my phone schedule and then plan in each day, eg Monday: AM emails, process orders PM samples out, purchasing etc.
- colour code! Majoritively, we're very visual beings so colour coding your tasks especially in something that can become cluttered like a day to day diary needs categorising. I colour code by task, and then order in importance (don't forget to eat that frog!) but you'll find a solution that works for you.
- see the big picture! if you're looking at minute detail every day you become blind to the big picture of your business. Try having a whiteboard in your office and divide it up to something as follows - Doing, To Do, Next Quarter and Next Year and Review. This is based on something I learnt with coaching from Oxford Innovation. How you use it is entirely up to you - eg, doing, I tend to jot down things that would get lost on a postit note somewhere - samples out, commission owed, new product ideas etc. I also have a monthly calender right next to it (and next to the door of the office) where I note down events and wholesale orders - eg, things that need more than a days' prep for.
If you've got a burning question about Crown and Glory or business as a whole, either email email@example.com or if you'd prefer to stay anonymous, you can ask us anything via Formspring http://www.formspring.me/crownandglory