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As crazy as it sounds, we are about to enter the month of September. School is back in session. The sights and smells of fall are coming. The last third of the year will be here soon enough.
Hopefully, you were able to step away from your business a little bit and go on a trip this summer. As you get back into the swing of things at the office, we thought we would discuss a simple, yet vital topic: how the cleanliness and organization of your desk can impact your practical processes.
If we can help you develop and manage your practical processes, be sure to contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Creating an efficient procedures manual can be a daunting task, but a creative one at that. It's definitely worth it if producing precise instructions allow you to step away and know all that is needed is within the manual.
Here are some tips:
1. Start a list/log for all activities - It is not easy to remember every step that you take to accomplish a task. Carrying a list or log in which you can notate steps as they arise will help exponentially later. Write down the explanation of the task, how long it should take and what tools you may need. Do this for approximately one month. After this period, you should have a good idea of what needs to be documented.
2. Begin documenting the actual full procedure - Understand why this procedure is important, clarify all the departments, people and other procedures it affects, recognize all those that need to participate in the procedure and make a list of all the tools needed.
3. Present your content in visually enticing ways - If applicable or necessary use pictures or graphics to help explain and elaborate on your procedures
4. Embrace the power of checklists – Checklists are my favorite tools; they are very helpful in a manual so that someone coming behind you can mark off each step after they finish. To ensure efficiency, be sure to include the specific action steps. If you add any notes within each action step use a different color or font. If other people are named within the action steps use their titles or department names because people come and go. Make sure the action steps are in the proper order to complete the procedure.
5. Don't forget these important "other items" -
A. Table of Contents – use this page to locate the exact procedure that you need to reference.
B. Contacts – keep a page that is frequently updated with names and numbers of others that can assist the person trying to step in
C. Templates – create templates for forms or action lists so they can be easily updated and replaced.
If I had a dime for every time I heard, “I don’t have the receipt,” I think I would at least have a long vacation paid for at this point. Even with the advent of the digital age and we can have receipts sent straight to our inboxes after our purchase, we still struggle with properly documenting our expenses. Here are a few quick tips in conquering what I call “receipt defeat.”
1) Get some help, but don’t forget the expense organization is ultimately up to you - As a small business owner, you probably have an in-house or outsourced accountant who helps you handle the books on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Though the temptation to trust this person or team completely is there, make sure you stayed involved with the process in some capacity. Ask for their help in establishing a quality organization routine for all of your financial matters.
2) File folders are still relevant - Even if we don’t like to admit it sometimes, digital receipts have not completely overtaken paper receipts. You probably have a stack lying around your home or company office. You can invest in a variety of filing systems like we discussed last week here.
3) Don’t ignore them until tax season - The receipt indicates the end of the transaction at the store, but it hasn’t quite completed its purpose
for your business. Set calendar reminders in your inbox for you or your finance team to occasionally revisit your purchase history for the year.
You don’t want any surprises when tax season starts.
Just like you would not start your company without first completing a business plan, you would not attempt to manage your business records without organizing your files. People have asked me about organization tips for their home and business files, so I want to provide some help here.
1) Start generic: Write down a list of the categories you want to use for your folders. Begin looking through your files and place them in the appropriate file folder (for these initial categories, I would suggest pendaflex files). Do not try to get specific with subcategories just yet. You want to start with the big picture and eventually get detailed. Main folders can include Automobile Repairs, Credit Cards, Payroll, Human Resources, and more.
2) Get specific: Once you establish your "main folders," use manila folders to create subcategories. An example of a subcategory in Human Resources would be Insurance Paperwork, Vacation Policy or Employee Files. These tips also apply to the digital realm, especially with email.
3) Get organized and STAY organized: Prompted by declarations such as New Year's resolutions, we often get caught up in the excitement of setting goals for our personal and professional lives. However, once we hit the middle of the year (i.e. July), our discipline is often nonexistent. Similarly, when you seek to organize your business, you will discover a business-related adrenaline that helps you get through the initial challenges and encourages you to finish the project of establishing categories and subcategories. However, you must be willing to maintain these records and your organizational habits, especially when busy times come for your company. Do not fall behind if you have worked so hard to get ahead.
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