The 10 Steps to Business Organization
Are you having a hard time keeping your business organized? Or maybe you need to start organizing. Wherever you’re at, we can help you! We’ll share with you the 10 steps to business organization.
I’m a little bit of an organization geek. I love being organized! But, I also hate wasting time so I draw the line at being so organized to the point that your wasting time. Time is valuable. I organize for a reason. I get it done so that I can save myself time and money. Keep reading if you want to know:
- The three reasons you are not organized in your business
- What tasks to do right away and what to save for later
- How to prioritize and 10 different tools for business organization
Organization can be tough. We’re all doing a million things. I always say a million things and my husband always jokes that I cannot possibly be doing a million things. But I feel like my to-do list is literally a million things. We have so many things to do, then you add on top of that your personal things, family things, and errands and life just gets crazy.
But as hectic as life is, it doesn’t mean that you have to live a hectic lifestyle. I have a very hectic schedule but that does not mean I am running around like a chicken without my head on. I still remain very organized and very methodical.
Organization can actually breed inspiration and focus. If you want to be inspired, if you want to be a good designer, if you want to have a good business, then you need to master business organization.
Watch the Video Here or Read Below!
Why You’re Not Organized
First, let’s discuss–before we get into the ten steps to business organization–the three major reasons you are probably not so organized in the first place.
I truly believe that how you do anything is how you do everything. If you are unorganized in your personal life, you are probably going to be unorganized in your business. If you are unorganized in your business, it can definitely cost you a lot of time and a lot of money. It can even cost you your entire business.
Not the Organized Type?
Do you ever think to yourself, ‘I am just not the organized type, that’s not me.’ I personally never grew up this way, but a lot of people relate to this scenario. You’re not the organized type. Well, don’t get stuck in this mentality. Being organized might be easier for some than others, but at the end of the day, it’s still a learned trait and a habit that anyone can form. Regardless of whether you think you are the organized type or not, you can learn to become organized.
It’s just like anything else. We all learned at one point in time how to crawl, then we all learned how to walk, learned how to ride a bike, and learned how to talk. These are all things that you are not just magically born with; you learn how to do these things. You can learn this. It is not that difficult and I am going to teach you how. But get that mindset out of your head first, because anyone can be organized.
Never Learned HOW to be Organized?
They don’t exactly teach this stuff in school. I honestly think they should teach it. But since they don’t, you kind of have to be lucky to have parents or friends or someone around you to keep you organized and show you how to be organized.
My husband always jokes around and says that I am the most organized person he knows, second only to my mom. My mom is literally the most organized person I know on his planet. I thank God every day that she raised me because she taught me how to be organized but to be honest I am still not as organized as she is. My mom taught me how to be organized and so you just need to learn, it is just something that needs to be learned and we can help you. There is no need to go crazy and try to do all the ten things that we are going to show you how to do. Just pick one thing, go with it, once you master it, go on to the next thing.
Don’t Have Time to Organize?
This third reason is a big one. Who thinks that they’re not organized because they simply do not have time to be organized? The time that it takes for you to organize something, trust me, you will get back tenfold because of the fact that you are organized. It is going to save you so much time in the long run. If you spend five minutes just organizing one thing you could potentially save yourself 20 to 30 minutes just based off of that one five minutes.
It might seem like right now you don’t have the five minutes to spend organizing or cannot spend the time to organize. I know life can get crazy. But if you at least take a little bit of time each day to organize yourself or something in your business, it is going to save you so much time in the long run.
Let’s talk about these ten tips next because they are really going to help to stay organized in your business. And remember, there is always time to be organized!
Business Organization in 10 Steps
#1: Develop a Routine for You and Your Business
The first step to business organization is to develop a routine. Organization is simply a habit just like any other habit. So start forming that habit, forming that routine. You’ll want to start to create order for yourself and that starts with routines. If you don’t already have some, start establishing rituals or routines, especially in the beginning and at the end of your day.
In the morning, I like to make sure I eat a really good breakfast, read my Bible, and pray and ask God to give me strategy for the day. And all the things that I want to do if I have time. If I have the time, I like to exercise in the morning. I especially do this on the weekends because I have more time.
Whatever you like to do in the morning, whatever gets you ready and set for the day, do that. Make a routine or have something that you typically do all the time in a specific order to get your mind and body in focus for the day ahead of you. That is going to help you stay even more organized. Then at night, do the same thing.
I do not go to sleep at night before I make sure to do certain things. I look at my calendar and my planner, and make sure I have got everything organized for the next day so that I know what is coming up. That way, I know exactly what is going on at all times and I can go to sleep well knowing everything is organized.
Make sure to have a good unwinding routine at night. Whether it is taking a bath or a shower, reading a book, or drinking some tea. Try to get rid of the screen, and kind of relax. Be quiet. Quiet your mind to get yourself ready for bed and the next day to come.
Believe it or not, this is actually going to help you stay organized throughout the rest of your day. Just having a morning routine and a nighttime routine is going to help you in your day so much.
Then you can even take it one step further and have a work routine. Maybe you work from home, which is by far the hardest place to actually do your work because you have so many distractions. To counteract distractions that may come up, set up a routine for yourself before you work. Maybe you need to have your coffee, or water filled; maybe you need to have certain music playing before you get started for the day. Whatever it is, make sure you have got that routine. Then whatever your steps for starting the day are, do those steps all the time. It could be checking your calendar, checking your emails, or checking the weather. Just make sure that you are doing the same thing in the same order every single day, that’s how you create habits and routines.
After you have created this routine, your brain no longer has to think about what to do next. It is just like when we brush our teeth or put on makeup. You probably put on your makeup the same way every single day and you do not even think about it. You just kind of know, because you have been doing it every single day.
This frees up space in your brain which is very very important. I always say real estate in the mind is very expensive; you cannot afford to waste it on meaningless things.
#2: Clean and Organize your Workspace
Step number two, clean your workspace. A messy workspace is never going to help you stay organized with the rest of your business. Everything should have a place where it belongs. Whenever you use something, take the time to put it back where you found it so then you will always know where it is and never lose anything.
This goes for both your physical desk and your computer desktop. If you have a computer, you are probably looking at your desktop and seeing a ton of files on your desktop. To avoid this clutter, you want to make sure you clean up that desktop every once in a while. You should be able to see the background on your desktop. The same thing goes with your desk. You should be able to see your desk and not have papers or other things cluttering it.
The things that you use the most are the things that you want to have most accessible to you, so keep them close within reach. Just think about the things that you use all the time–your pens, pencils, planner, etc. You might even have lip gloss that you use all the time, keep that close too!
If it took you one minute for a page to load every time you went to a website you would get super frustrated. It is the same thing with your physical desk. If it takes you a minute to find something, that’s too long, that’s valuable time.
#3: Go Digital
This was a hard one for me especially because I am very much a paper gal. I love to have my paper and my pen. I love to write because I actually remember the things that I write versus when I type something on a computer or on a device. But as much as I am a paper person, I understand the importance of digital.
Digital makes everything easier and faster to find. So instead of having all these post-it notes all over the place, you can use the notes in your phone or on your computer. If you have an iPhone or a Mac, the notes app will sync your Mac and iPhone. Thanks to that helpful tool I now pretty much put everything in my notes section. And then if I need to find something, I can do a search in my notes and it will come up right away–versus piling through a bunch of post-it notes and loose papers.
You can also swap out your notepad for your computer. I used to take a crazy amount of notes on a lined notepad. Now I do everything in word docs. I just open up a new doc on my computer and start typing all my notes in there.
Spreadsheets are going to become your best friend. I probably have a spreadsheet for everything. My husband makes fun of me. I have a spreadsheet for packing. I literally have a checklist of everything I need to pack in my suitcase, whether its a personal trip or for work.
#4: Use a Calendar
Your calendar is also your best friend if you’re an organized person, but only if you’re using it properly. First you have to understand if you are a paper kind of person or digital kind of person. I actually still use both a digital and paper calendar and I will explain why.
Paper Calendar vs. Digital Calendar
I use the paper calendar because I am the type of person that likes to see the bigger picture. I like to see an entire month at a time, an entire week at a time, an entire day at a time. All in one quick glance too, so I can have that open on my desk. It takes me less time to have that open on my desk than it does to try to click my calendar app on my phone or on my computer.
So there are many reasons to go digital, but if you need to have a paper one, not a problem, you can have a paper one. Just make sure either way you have it someplace it is easily accessible and you can always view it at any time.
I also understand the importance of digital calendars. I use a digital calendar in addition to paper, because it can easily be shared with others. My husband and I each have a calendar that we share together. If he books an appointment he can just add it to the calendar and then I automatically get to see it. And the same goes with my assistant in my business. She can book an appointment, or I can book an appointment, and we both see it at the same time.
Digital calendars are also great because you can set alerts and set reminders. You can also assign each event an address and Google Maps or Apple Maps will link it and show you how to get there. It even tells you what time you need to leave.
Write it Down Twice!
Something else to keep in mind is to not only add your appointments and events to your calendar, but also put your to-do list on your calendar. This is another reason I do via paper because otherwise I would be typing a lot on my digital calendar. I do not like to rely on my memory for a lot of things. If there is a due date for something, if I have tasks I need to do, I write everything down on the calendar. And I always immediately add everything to the calendar when it comes up. If I am supposed to follow up with somebody, I will put down the day I am supposed to follow up with them. If I ordered something on Amazon, it is supposed to come on Wednesday, I will write down ‘Wednesday Amazon Shipment’.
Another useful tip: do not fill every slot on your calendar with a ton of things. If you want to have some flexibility–because you are not always going to know how long something is going to take–do not fill it in jam-packed. If you do, you are going to feel like every single day you did not get to complete everything on your list. I would rather have put less things on my list for the day and actually get them done, than putting a bunch of things to do and not getting to them.
Other Calendars That Are CRUCIAL
I also use a social media calendar. This is for just my social media posting, promotions and what is going on, and it’s shared with my entire team. I have a whole team of girls that help with my business–videographers, photographers, social media bloggers, all that. And they get shared with the social media calendars so that they know what is going on, what to be promoting, etc. We also have a separate blogging calendar which has just the blogs, blog posts, titles, keywords, and when it is supposed to be posted.
In addition to those, I recommend using–I should say for fashion designers–a design production calendar. We have one available on our website. This is going to give you a timeline of each process in the design and production stages such as sourcing fabric, beginning your design development, sampling your production and how long each one takes and when you need to start and stop them. That way you are on time and you never ship late. It is really important as a new designer to always be on time, never have any problems with production, and ship on time.
We also have a buying sales calendar on our website as well that is going to give you the seasonal selling dates, the delivery windows, the shipping dates.
Those are two really really important calendars as a fashion designer. You definitely want to be using them at all times and be looking at them so you know what is coming up and you are ahead of the game.
#5: Plan Ahead
Planning is essential to good business organization. My year is practically already planned out. I do this at the beginning of every single year. Granted, I go back and constantly revise and update it, but I try to plan out an entire year at once.
Plan your follow-ups too. When you are reaching out to, let’s say a buyer, and the buyer says come back to me next season, go to the next season and write on a specific day at a specific time to follow up with said buyer. You want to start doing that so that by the time that day comes, it might be six months later, you are going to remember to follow up with that buyer.
It is going to save you a lot of time in the long run if you know what is coming up tomorrow. So you know what is coming up next week, next month, and so on.
#6: Do it Now
Part of being organized is not pushing things off or procrastinating. I know this is a big one for a lot of you. You like to be procrastinators, but we need to stop that and start doing things now.
It may feel impossible to do everything now, like you would just spend your whole time putting out fires all day long. Well, you want to make sure that you are doing the important things first and the small tasks right away. Things that take you 1 to 3 minutes, like a quick email to answer, do those things right away. Save time for the longer tasks to do later.
This is going to help you eliminate a lot of the smaller things on your to-do list. You will get things done and be able to check them off faster. And that in turn will make you feel good. After you’re all done with the little things and on a roll, you’ll have time freed up to focus on the longer things.
It’s important to also set time limits for yourself. This especially goes for emails. I like to max out my email time in the morning to about an hour. In that hour I try to do as many emails as I possibly can, and then I’ll save the rest for later.
In order to perfect your business organization, you need to know how to prioritize. Not everything is of equal importance.
This starts with your goals. You need to know what your business goals are and what is important for you. I always spend the beginning of the year reviewing with my team what happened the previous year, where our clients came from, where most of the traffic to our website came from, what was working the most, what yielded the biggest profit and what was not working. That way I know where I need to spend my time.
If you are just starting out, it is going to be hard for you to know. But after you have been doing your business for a while, it will come more naturally. Just make sure to go back and look at the analytics and the statistics.
Turn your Goals into Tasks
Once you know your goals, you will want to break those goals down into actionable tasks. You want to have actionable tasks because otherwise it is never going to get done. Don’t have a lofty goal in your head like to start a fashion line. You need tasks. Maybe your first task is to do market research. The second task is sourcing your fabrics. Then break those tasks down even further.
On your task list, you want to prioritize your tasks.
I like to make a list of all the tasks I have to do and then I start to rank them. You can rank them with numbers like 1 through 10, with letters A through Z, or with stars. Whatever the case may be, just rank them in order of priority. Like these five things are the most important and I have to get them done today. Then these five things I would like to get done today but maybe they can get done tomorrow. And so on.
Once you have prioritized everything you want to reorganize them into the order that you are going to do them. For example, first I am going to make a phone call to a buyer. Then I am going to email my factory and follow up with what is going on. You kind of make a list in order of the things that you are going to do and start checking them off for the day.
This is going to force you to do only the important tasks and not worry about the things that are not so important. It’ll help you not be as distracted by all the smaller tasks and non-important tasks.
I love to automate things. If I had it my way, everything in my life would be automated. But that does not quite work. For some things and a lot of things in your business, however, it does work. All you need is a system.
System stands for save yourself some time, energy and money. And that is exactly what it does! It helps you save time and money with things that can be scheduled like social media posts and emails.
There are a lot of great tools you can use. We use HootSuite for social media posting. You can plan it out days in advance, weeks in advance, or even months in advance. And the great thing is, once you schedule it, you are done. You do not have to worry about it anymore!
With email marketing, I recommend using something like Mailchimp. It’s free to use up to 2,000 contacts, so it does not even cost anything. You can automate things with Mailchimp easily. I have a lot of emails, like birthday emails, that automatically go out to all of my clients on their birthday.
Again, the idea is that you are doing something one time and you are saving yourself the time it takes to do it over and over and over again. This is going to help you tremendously in your business.
#9: Bulk Things Together
Bulk similar activities together. I do not want to be spending five minutes a day on social media. I would rather spend twenty five minutes on Monday and do all of my social media for the week and be done. Five minutes a day is not going to be productive. It is not going to be as organized because you have to stop what you are doing, think about social media for those five minutes and then go back to what you were doing. You do not want to waste time being interrupted and distracted with too many things.
It takes on average 23 minutes to refocus on something once you have been interrupted. So if I’m interrupted just five times in a day, that is over two hours of lost time. That is a lot of wasted time.
You can set the stage for how you want to run your business and you can dictate how you want people to treat you. If you do not want to be interrupted, make that clear to your team. No being bothered, no knocks on the door, you need to get your work done.
For instance if you are doing fabric sourcing, do not go to one store one day and one vendor another day and the next another day. Try to do them all on the same day. For me, if I am going into New York City I do not want to go in once a day every single day. I would rather go and do all the things I need to do on one day. This is going to save you time, and it is going to save you money.
Do not try to do everything yourself. It’s very difficult when you are starting your own business, you are wearing a ton of hats. So make sure you are giving duties to other people too. I always say that if someone can do something 80 percent as good as you, you should delegate it.
Delegating is going to free up your time to do the things that only you can do in your business. This is why we do a ton of digital management for a lot of companies. And we do a lot of product management as well. If you are interested in outsourcing your fabric sourcing, tech packs, blog writing, social media management, Instagram management, Facebook ads or influencer marketing, we can help you do all of those things. We help a lot of our clients do that so they can focus on the design which is what you are probably really good at and only you can really do that. We can set up a 20-minute free discovery call too!
Tools For Your Business and Business Organization
I am going to go through some tools to help you with your business organization. There are certain areas that you are always going to want to be organized within your business and there are some tools that can help with that.
This is a really big one. You need to know how much money is coming in, how much money is going out, and what is going on with your business at all times. I recommend QuickBooks. There are tons of different platforms out there, just use something. Do not try to do it on your own.
You are going to have a ton of passwords–your social media passwords, your website password, your canva password–everything has a password. Do yourself a favor and get an app. I use the 1password app. I have all my passwords stored in there. All I have to do is remember one password in order to get into the app and that is it. Save yourself the real estate in your mind and get a password app to put all your passwords in.
Next: documents, you are going to have a lot of documents in your business. I recommend you have something to organize them like a Dropbox or a Google Drive. These both are really great because you can share it with your whole team.
I personally use Google Drive in my business with my team. I love it because my assistant can update something on a Google Doc and if I am shared with that Google Doc, I can see exactly what and when she is updating. It makes it so we are not emailing things back and forth to each other. Also, I do not have tons of paper all over the place.
If you took our sales course, you would have our spreadsheet for all this. A lot of our courses are online courses that come with a lot of built-in spreadsheets. I have already done all the hard work for you and created these spreadsheets. You do not have to worry about it and know exactly what you need to keep track of. We have a spreadsheet for contacting buyers and how to follow up with buyers, so try our online sales course, Successful Sales Secrets.
Another time consumer is email. A lot of you are going to have a ton of emails, so I recommend using an email marketing system.
Mailchimp is great because you can tag people with certain things. Let’s say you had a customer who bought a dress. Maybe you wanted to tag them with that dress. Or they bought everything from your store that was red colored, so you would put a red colored tag. Maybe they only bought during a sale period, you could put a holiday sale tag. That way you know next year on that holiday–or whatever the case–that person might be more likely to buy from you because they bought from you at that time last time they shopped. You could send out an automated email to all of your holiday sale people telling them we have got a new holiday sale coming. Then they might buy something else again.
Also just in your personal email or your business email, have some kind of a flagging system. Like red flag means urgent, yellow flag means not so urgent, and so on. Whatever your flagging system is, just come up with one and stick to it.
Create folders for yourself so that all your emails are not living in your inbox at all times. A really cool tool that I just stumbled upon is called boomerang, and it’s only for Gmail. Basically, it’s a free Google Chrome extension and it will help you track if people read your emails. It will remind you to follow up with people and it will schedule emails for you. Typically in Gmail you cannot schedule an email, but with boomerang you can.
You are also going to have customers, and hopefully lots of payments coming in. You want to keep track of all of that too. Figure out how you are going to accept payments. Whether you are going to do PayPal, Stripe or Square or you have a Shopify store, keep a way of tracking all those customers and potential customers.
I not only track my current clients and what they have purchased, but also potential clients and what they would be interested in purchasing. I like to follow up with people because the fortune is in the follow up. Most of you who know me, I have probably followed up with you several times. The reason is because I know that sometimes in the beginning you are not always ready. Maybe it is going to take you three months, six months or a year to really be ready to start working with a coach. And that is fine, but I want to make sure that I am here and on top of mine when you are ready.
I am a big tabs person. When I open up windows on my computer, I have a ton of tabs open up at once and it starts to get really cluttered. I use something called one tab to help with that. It is literally one tab and it’s a Google Chrome extension that will shrink all of your open tabs into this thing called one tab. It basically makes it just a list. It lists all your tabs and you can reopen them up at any time.
Your inventory. Hopefully you do not have a lot of inventory and you do not need to keep track of it too much. But if you do have an inventory, you definitely want to track it. You want to know how much you have at all times.
QuickBooks can help you to do this. There are also other inventory options out there.
You’ll want to use Pinterest or maybe Instagram–you can use the save feature on Instagram–and start compiling all of your design ideas in one place. That way, you are not constantly looking for them all over the place. Maybe you are trying to think of name ideas for your business, put some name ideas in the note section on your phone. Then, you always have them to refer back to.
Again, for social media, I recommend HootSuite. There is also Buffer which is a really good planning tool. Also for Instagram, you can plan your layout with a tool called Preview or Planoly.
So those are eight different tools to help you stay organized in your business. And ten ways you can start business organization now! I hope you enjoyed this and learned some valuable information from it that you can put to use right away!
You are going to have super organized businesses, now that you have all the tips and tools. As I mentioned before, we have a design production calendar and a buying sales calendar both available on our website. Start working this week and you will see results. Just stick with it–whatever works!
If you want more FREE information on business organization, be sure to join our Fearless Fashionpreneur Facebook Group!
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