Do you struggle with organizing your home-based business? Many people launch a home-based business when they want to generate free cash. And, often people try to squeeze it into an already-packed life. But, I’ve worked with several successful small business owners, e-Bayers, and direct sales distributors. As such, I’ve seen the unique challenges that organizing a home-based business provides. Here are 8 easy organizing solutions to help you run a successful, profitable, and organized home-based business!
Define Your Workspace
To create success with your home-based business, you need an office. As tempting as it can be to just get started, this could be one of the critical failure factors in your business success. Many people “launch” a home-based business, they tend to plop down wherever there is “available space”. This is a critical mistake rife with some real challenges.
The first problem of working from home is having no boundaries. Without a clear boundary between work and home, many breakdowns can occur. Life gets in the way of your business. Kids’ needs take over, meals still need to be made, errands must be run, and chores must continue to occur – and your business will sit – with its door wide open if you’re working within your living space.
If you’re really serious about having a thriving home-based business, take care of yourself, and those with whom you live. Do yourself a favor and create a defined workspace as soon as you can. Running your home-based business from the kitchen or dining room table, or from a corner of your bedroom is a recipe for failure.
Since most home-based businesses are women-run (and often mommy-run), it’s best to make the separation between work and home and create a work area that you can leave “in process” in case of inevitable interruptions and emergencies. This one key factor, a defined workspace for your home-based business can be the difference between success and failure.
Storyboard Your Home-based Business Processes
It’s really important to understand how you’ll get work done behind the scenes in your home-based business. Don’t leave it to chance. Instead, get on top of the process flow by laying it out in a storyboard format. Get a large piece of blank paper and use pictures to depict how orders come and go in your business flow. When you chart your processes its easier to see the ongoing tasks and duties you need to perform within your business, and you can track things easier.
Organize and Systemize Your Products
Just because you have a home-based business, doesn’t mean you should skimp out on what you’ll need to be successful. In addition to your workspace, you’ll need to have space to store your inventory and an adequate area to organize and stage or pack your orders (especially if you ship your products out regularly.) Creating enough space to do this will likely lead to more success and less lag time between shipping orders. Organizing your area makes it easy to pick, pack, and label orders for shipping quickly and easily.
Create Easy, Repeatable Systems
Your systems can make or break your home-based business. For instance, when working with clients either as a coach, a personal trainer, or as an organizing consultant – I assign each client a manilla folder. I track my high-level actions and communications with them by writing on the outside of the folder. This way, I easily have a go-to place to track last communications and can update the information quickly. When I worked at client locations, it was easy to find, and read if I was en route.
I can upload this to my database at a future date (or ask my admin to help me!). I also have systems to keep track of other business activities and actions. If you have access to electronic customer relationship management software like Outlook or ACT, make sure you know how to use it. If you retain and plan better on paper, an electronic system may not suit your style as well. Whatever your choice, your home-based business needs easy systems to save you time.
Stage Road Show Items With Rolling Storage Systems
Many home-based businesses turn you into a salesperson. As such you’ll often peddle products through home shows or parties. To make a great impression, you’ll need to have displays, banners, forms, and sample items. One of the easiest ways to manage time is to create a ‘Go System’. Your Go System should help you be ready at a moment’s notice.
Some items to help you stage your home-based business roadshow include rolling bags or tubs. They make it easy to transport stuff in and out of customer’s homes easily. Don’t overpack your items and make them too heavy – you want to avoid back injuries and take care of yourself along the way. Your system will perfect itself as you go along, but generally follow the overarching organizing KISS principle – Keep It Simple Silly… The simpler this process is for you to unpack and repack, the better for you.
Organize Home-based Business Files and Customer Data
Most franchises offer many systems to help you keep track of leads, orders, and payments and many offer on-line systems and ordering tools to make this process much easier than it used to be. It is still important to set up your files and your paperwork for your business so that information you need to retrieve is easily accessible and easy to maintain. Consider storing blank forms and paper items in a vertically accessible storage system such as a standing Stadium File so that you can clearly read labels and easily find what you need.
Some of the most important information to track is your customer data. Today, there are free and easy apps and online databases that make these once-daunting tasks easier. If your product line has it’s own customer database, you’ll be set. If not, check out Asana, or Airtable to help you get started.
Track Your Business Tax Information Separately
If you’re just starting out in your home-based business, you’ll at the very least need to create a financial fence between your personal taxes and your business finances. You want to track money in, money out, receipts for business items at a minimum. There are many different financial loopholes to get mired in, but everything you need is found on the irs.gov website (IRS Tax Tip 2011-71, April 11, 2011).
For a home-based business, you must track: purchase and sales records, stock transactions, IRA, business or rental property, bills, credit card and other receipts relating to deductions, invoices, mileage logs, canceled, imaged or substitute checks, proofs of payment, and any other records to support deductions or credits you claim on your return. And if you’re intimidated or struggle with this topic, seek assistance from a tax advisor or CPA. (For more information on what kinds of records to keep, see IRS Publication 552, Recordkeeping for Individuals, which is available on the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov.)
Get Support From Others
One of the most common difficulties in managing a home-based business is underestimating the time it takes to do it! Many moms try to “squeeze” a home-based business in between all the other things on their list. This may or may NOT be true. Adding a business into your schedule means dividing your time, attention, and energy – and shifting your home-space. If you are serious about your business, you’ll need help.
It’s time you eased up on other things and get some real support for tasks and chores. Listing your weekly tasks is a good way to gain perspective. Then get help from family members or others whenever you can. Consider arranging a childcare situation to provide concentrated time for your business. You’ll find that the right support is key to success. Without it – YOU will suffer most.
Getting organized to run your home-based business is not difficult, but it does take some time and intentional action to make you feel organized and under control. IF you need help getting your home-based business office set up, start here with your complimentary free DIY Get Organized ebook and Audios.