I have been a small business advisor for over 20 years.
My job is essentially very simple.
It is to educate solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and small business owners and their employees.
I guide them how to run a smooth, sound, and profitable business.
When I first meet most of my clients, ask me to help them improve marketing and increase sales.
I begin with a focus on these topics, but more often than not, the real help they need goes deeper.
A common reason startup and small companies are not satisfied with their profits is actually down to poor organisation.
Much of their early focus is on creating a product and bringing it to market.
But a business which is not organised will struggle to grow.
Poor processes and systems – if they even exist – do not scale.
Imagine having launched a great product.
It is a product which sells well.
You can find many new customers.
But the more you business you win, the harder it becomes to keep up with demand.
So what are the symptoms of a disorganised business?
Look around your office.
Do you have stacks of paper on your desk.
Do you keep piles of business cards?
Are your business expense receipts just stuffed into a box?
If so you have a problem.
A problem which will only get bigger, the longer you leave it.
When my client’s office looks like this, the first recommendation I make is to buy a document scanner.
I use a Fujitsu Scansnap ix500.
Sadly, this model is now discontinued but the current model at the time of writing is the SP-1120.
The trick is to link that scanner to a document storage and note-keeping application like Evernote.
You can then scan every document and instantly turn it into a PDF document which is “machine readable”.
That’s a fancy term meaning the scanner has turned all the writing into text which can be searched.
As you scan each document it is automatically filed.
If you are using Evernote, a copy gets stored on your computer, and another sent to your online account in the cloud.
This means you instantly and always have a backup of every document.
Hey-presto – you just implemented the first part of your business Disaster Recovery plan.
You do have a business Disaster Recovery plan – don’t you?!
Your secure Evernote account is accessible online from anywhere in the world using a browser.
If you are really pressed for cash, you don’t even need a document scanner.
With the Evernote app installed on your phone, you can capture documents by taking photos of them.
This works for business cards too.
You can use the free version of Evernote when you are just starting out.
As your business grows you can then upgrade to the Premium service, which gets you more storage space and greater flexibility in how you file and share documents.
If you recruit a team to work for you, you have the option to buy a Business level service with collaboration and other great tools.
For a more detailed guide to Evernote, check out our course “Work Smarter with Evernote” on the Training page.
So, with all your paper now stored and organised on your computer, a quick word search will find any one document.
You see, organisation is the key to running a profitable and successful business.
Organising improves productivity and should later increase sales.
After all, a client who has to wait 20 minutes before you can find their file is a client who is likely to take their business elsewhere.