business The start of the new year is the perfect time to take a step back from your biz and hit reset. You’re reviewing the past 12 months and setting goals for the year ahead, looking for opportunities for improvement.
Part of streamlining your business into 2020 comes down to simple organization. And while it comes naturally for some, it’s more challenging for others.
Organization is critical to maintaining smooth business operations and sustainable growth—not to mention your sanity. In fact, 83% of business owners believe having an organized office is vital, and 63% believe it also contributes to profitability.
Check these five organization tasks off your list to start 2020 off with a clean slate.
Automate business processes and workflows
Business automation is when you set up tools and systems that trigger a sequence of events that automatically happen in a specified order. You essentially set up an automation once and let the process run on autopilot, checking in only as needed.
According to one Red Hat survey, 34% of organizations are focused on automating business processes. Automation keeps you organized because it eliminates time-consuming manual processes and mitigates data discrepancies caused by human error.
“You can eliminate the manual work by automating small things like emails,” said Juliana Brasil, co-owner of Canuck Collective. Zapier makes it easy to automate email, social media, accounting, payroll, and other business processes, with more than 1,000 integrations—including Wave. 17hats and IFTTT work similarly to Zapier, leveraging third-party integrations and connecting various platforms.
More ideas on how to automate business processes:
- Appointment scheduling with Calendly
- Invoicing and reminders to help you get paid faster
- Project management with Asana, monday.com, or Trello
- Social media posting with Meet Edgar, Sprout Social, Buffer, or Later.com
Ditch the paper and head to the cloud
A staggering 94% of companies use the cloud, according to research conducted by RightScale. The cloud offers remote accessibility, because you can log in to the platform you’re using from any compatible connected device. Most cloud systems update in real-time, too, making it ideal for collaboration with team members.
Plus, the cloud offers extra security in that if your hardware is destroyed, your data is saved.
There are tons of ways to use the cloud: from managing your books, to sharing valuable documents, to clocking time. Here are some ideas on how to use the cloud to help you stay organized in your business:
- Remote file management with Dropbox or OneDrive, and document management (along with e-signatures) via DocuSign or HelloSign
- Collaboration in spreadsheets, documents, and slideshow presentations with Google Drive
- Wave’s free financial software to track income and expenses, send invoices, and collect payments
- Time tracking with Toggl, Harvest, or Clockify
Tackle your email
Email is the second most popular form of communication, behind cell phones and texting. People send more than 205 billion emails each day—a figure expected to grow 3% annually to hit 246 billion by the end of 2019. That’s 126 emails per person per DAY. That’s a lot to stay on top of.
If “inbox zero” seems like a pie in the sky idea for you, there are tools out there that can make your email more manageable and less anxiety-inducing. Here are some suggestions:
- Schedule emails to send later with Gmail or Boomerang
- Sign up for Unroll.me to create a single daily digest email with all your newsletter subscriptions
- Turn emails into tasks and workflows with Sortd
- SaneBox will automatically sort your inbox and prioritize emails
- Create free email accounts to use for forms and other online signups with Maildrop, so your inbox isn’t inundated with spam or unwanted messages
Templates help you stay organized and consistent. Instead of starting from scratch each time you need to do something, you can use a template. This saves time and also makes it easier to hand tasks off to other team members who can use the template as a guide.
Consistency is also key here because a template keeps things uniform. Synchronicity allows for better organization, and keeps your brand strong, too.
You can use templates for almost anything in your business: proposals, web pages, invoice templates, emails, and more.
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Get a head start on tax prep
Though you only file your taxes once a year, tax prep can happen year round. And when you organize your business financials with tax prep in mind, you’ll stay organized even when the deadline is looming.
Upgrade to a double entry accounting software like Wave, so you can easily hand off the books to your accountant at year-end. Ensure you keep records updated at all times: don’t wait until December to do a full account reconciliation.
Moving forward with your business in 2020
There are lots of things to be excited about when it comes to your business in 2020. Whatever your goals may be, taking the time to get organized will go a long way in ensuring sustainable success and incremental growth.