If you have decided that 2019 is the year where you are really going to focus on building up your business, you need to have all the tips and tools on hand to keep you organised and productive – without making too much of a dent in your budget. You can have the best ideas in the world, but if you are not on top of everything that goes on in your business, they will soon flounder. Larger companies can find being organised much more straightforward. Despite having a larger number of employees, they often have a budget or a specific person, such as an HR department or a personal assistant to carry out particular tasks. If you are a smaller business, you may well find that this is just another thing you need to do on your already long to-do list. Fear not, however, as in this article, we look at some tips and tricks to keep you feeling in control at all times when it comes to organizing your small business.

1) Use a workflow platform.

Even if you have a small workforce, you need to be able to communicate with each of them directly, clearly and quickly. This is especially important if employees are working from home or travelling. A good one should be able to help you to assign tasks, allow you to message colleagues or team members and vice versa, allow discussion between staff working on projects and access/upload key information or documents. There are various ones available, with different features, so do your research and find one that works best for you.

2) Organise time digitally

Linked in with the previous point, being able to organise time and see where everybody should be at what time will make things run a lot more smoothly. Sling scheduling is a program which can help you to schedule and communicate with your employees so that you can keep on top of everything without having to worry about keeping a traditional, and often impractical, hard copy diary in an office.

3) Organise your space

One of the easiest ways to get your business off on the right foot is by making sure that your office or workspace is tidy and organised. Clutter and mess are not good for productivity, on both a practical and a mental level. Things are much more likely to be put down in the wrong place or lost in an office with no organizational structure. Start off by giving everything a place. This may be a filing cabinet, a drawer, a box, or even in a neat pile on a table or a desk. Create some sort of labelling system – so much time is lost to hunting through folders and files, so eliminate that by giving everything a label. If something has been used, make sure it gets put away in the right place immediately, as this will save a lot of time and hassle in the long term. If possible, try to implement a one-touch policy for every document or file that comes into your office. If something is handed to you, aim only to handle it once. If it needs dealing with, do it, and then file it or dispose of it straight away.

4) Go digital

In the above point, we talked about handling things only once and putting it away immediately, but one step better than this would be to go digital and have a paperless workspace. Do you really need a paper copy of that receipt or invoice lying around, or can you have it emailed to you? Do those files really need printing out, or can they be stored digitally? If you have paper come into the office, instead of storing a hard copy, can you scan it into a computer and store it digitally? As well as making it easier to find things, you may find that this will save you money in printing and paper costs, and is a lot more environmentally friendly.

5) Deal with expenses straight away

It can be very tempting to shove all the invoices and receipts in a desk drawer or an envelope and spend hours dealing with them at the end of the tax year, but is that really the best use of your time, space and resources? Probably not. Even just having a simple spreadsheet set up on the computer where you list your income and expenses will make it easier, with receipts numbered to tally them up or find an app which allows you to scan them in. This will make sorting your accounts out at the end of every month or financial period a lot easier and stress-free.

6) Plan social media campaigns

These days, social media is an integral part of marketing for most businesses, whatever industry they are in. It is a relatively straightforward and low-cost way of marketing your products or services and is an excellent way of connecting with clients and customers. However, it can also be time-consuming. Logging into the various social media platforms throughout the day, creating and curating exciting and relevant content to share with followers and replying to messages and questions can take a considerable chunk out of your day which can be spent doing other things. If you can, find a little space in your budget for a social media manager, it may be an investment worth your while. If not, consider planning your content and social media campaigns in advance. Set aside some time once a week or so and schedule a week’s worth of posts at a time. There are various third-party schedulers that are perfect for this task, such as Hootsuite and Social Oomph. These push through automatically, meaning you don’t have to update and publish manually.

7) Keep track of your time

When you are billing clients by the hour for work, it is essential that you keep an accurate record of the hours that you have worked so that you can charge them correctly. More often than not, contractors and freelancers underestimate how long a project has taken them and so lose out on money. There are plenty of apps available, such as Toggl, that can help you track the hours you work on particular tasks. Even if you are not working on an hourly billing basis, it can sometimes be useful to see where your time – or your employees time – is going so that you can make adjustments where necessary.

8) Manage your inbox

Just like a paper inbox, an email inbox can become unmanageable very quickly if not kept on top of. Reading through hundreds of emails can be both frustrating and time-consuming, and may mean that vital information is going unnoticed. Set aside some time every day to check your emails, replying, filing, forwarding or deleting as appropriate straight away. Every so often, go through and see if there are any newsletters or junk mail that you can unsubscribe from to keep your inbox free from clutter.

9) Take a break

When running your own business, it can be tempting to devote every possible waking moment to it, but sometimes, you need to step back from it all and have a break. Burning out will not be productive or helpful for either you, your employees or your business as a whole, so make sure you take some time out for yourself once in a while.