Running a small business often leaves you as the jack of all trades, sometimes you’re the CEO, sometimes you’re the VP of Sales, and sometimes you wear your CFO hat. This can often leave many small businesses a bit chaotic as one person is trying to do a million things at once. As your business grows you can add more people but starting-out many small businesses can be their most disorganized, which is actually the time when it needs to be organized the most.
If you look at failed businesses, many had great models that would work if executed properly, but the owners got overwhelmed and buried in world and chaos. Successful businesses stay organized and if this sounds like you, then you can skip this post, you don’t need it, just pat yourself on the back and go grab a beer. If, however you think you might benefit from being a bit more organized, you can still grab a beer, but then keep reading, this post is for you.
Getting organized involves more than just making a to-do list and following it, it really means thinking strategically and planning ahead. There are three key areas of your business that should be organized, and luckily some great tools to help you keep them organized. Open up your favorite spreadsheet app and use the following three titles as a guide. By making this one document you will instantly be more organized, update it every month and you’ll be in a whole new place!
- Income and Expenses – how do you make money and how does that change every single month? If you’re running a business you need to make money. If you’re disorganized about this, good luck with everything else – this is an absolute must and you should be doing everything you can to make more money each and every month. Expenses? Yes, these are important too. Spend more money than you make and you’re not running a business, you’re running a money pit…and nobody is proud of running a money pit so stay on top of your expenses.
- Sales and Marketing – what are you doing to grow your business? How much do you expect to make this month? Next month? What are you doing to get the world out about your business? Don’t look at sales as a passive activity. If you don’t have anyone working in sales try to hire someone as commission-only, get creative, there are a lot of ways to promote your business for free.
- Innovation – if you want to stick around you’ll need to innovate. Sure, you might say that you could depend on legacy customers forever but you’re probably no IBM. Small businesses are constantly threatened by larger competitors who can often create a unique edge. Continue to innovate and do things to differentiate yourself from everyone else.
Once you finish this document put a weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly event on your calendar. Take 10-15 minutes at least monthly to review this and make sure you keep track of where you are in all three places. If you keep bringing in more money, manage expenses well, grow your business and innovate like crazy you’ll find yourself in a very good place.