Archive for the ‘Record Keeping’ Category

While in Toronto in early November at the Professional Organizers in Canada annual conference I attended a workshop delivered by Deanne Kelleher from Kaos Group called “Essential and Powerful Business Tools”.  The session made me realize how many systems all of us small business owners should have in place and perhaps don’t, myself included.  If only I could find the time! (more…)


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This week was very gratifying on many fronts but especially so because I got to help a client who owns a small business revamp her paper filing system.  I’m quite sure I was far more excited about the process than she was. (more…)

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I think I’m in ‘like’ with my new Blackberry Style but not yet in ‘love’ with it.  Wow, do I have a whole new understanding for what many of my clients have gone through over the last few years as we switch from a paper planner to these wonderful electronic devices.  I am suffering from ‘paper calendar withdrawal’ symptoms – who knew it would be so difficult. (more…)

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At this time of year I always start to get into what I like to call ‘Clean Up and Get Organized for the New Year’ mode in my business.  Somehow, I always look forward to this process. For me it involves several steps which many of you may find it helpful to consider.

  1. Purging Paper & Electronic Information – like many of you I accumulate a lot of paper and electronic information throughout the year, some of which I never use. There’s no better feeling than going through all the paper files and shredding a bunch, going through my ‘My Documents’ folder and either archiving or deleting a bunch of files and finally going through all my email folders from this year and either archiving or deleting a bunch of that information.  Somehow this process always seems to shift the energy around a bit and make room for new and exciting projects each new year.
  2. Getting Ready for Canada Revenue – I have to say that all of us small business owners certainly do have to be well organized on the financial records side of our business in case our friends at CRA come calling.  I firmly believe that if I’m well organized and keep good records there is less likelihood that will happen but if it does I’ll be well prepared. I can pull any piece of   information they may require on a moment’s notice including invoices, expense receipts, HST returns, my calendar with all appointments,  monthly financial statements and the all important Automobile Mileage Log (to purchase yours go to http://www.janetheorganizer.com/productsforsale_automileagelog.html)  for the past 7 years.  The two things that they love to audit us home-based businesses for are ‘office-use-of-home’ expenses and ‘vehicle expenses’, so be sure to have those records in tip top shape and easily accessible.  In addition, HST audits are quite common so being able to produce your records in a timely fashion can make this process almost painless.
  3. Creating A New Budget – I always like to challenge myself to ‘stretch goals’ on the revenue side and then see how little I can get away with spending on the expense side while still growing the business.  This year I’m thinking about a few new budget items such as a Smartphone (yeah, yeah, I know I’m so behind on that one), a part-time Personal Assistant (too exciting), and maybe even my dream of a Training Video.  Having a monthly budget and reviewing it twice per month is one of the key success factors to any business, large or small.
  4. Annual Planning – in addition to creating a new budget, I schedule a yearly annual planning session for 1 or 2 days with my mastermind group(s) to brainstorm ideas for the next year or so.  This will involve both my personal and professional life and is a chance for some free thinking with no limitations.  A chance to review outstanding projects and think of new ones.  A chance to dream big and share those dreams with others.  And finally the time to put it all in writing, decide my priorities for the next year, and make a committment to others in my mastermind group to work on those priorities or, if I don’t, to have a good reason for changing them.

Whew, aren’t you exhausted just thinking about all this? Now we all have to go and book time in our calendar over the holiday season to get working on #1 to #3.  In my business #4 will be happening in two phases, one in January and the other in March.  However, you may decide to do something completely different like attend a workshop or hire someone to help you through the process.  Remember the adage, “Poor Prior Planning leads to P… Poor Performance”.

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Here I sit in my office rather late on Sunday evening after a full day of financial paperwork for my business and my husband’s.  Catch up as a result of all the time I have spent at various Conference sessions in the last week or so.

I attended the Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) Conference in Montreal from November 5th to 7th and the Centre for Women in Business (CWB) Conference here in Halifax on November 12th.  I am definitely ‘all conferenced out’, but I have to say it was so worth it.

It’s my once a year chance to rejuvenate myself, learn from others, reconnect with organizing friends from across the country and establish stronger connections with women right here in my own backyard.  Several messages came across loud and clear, funnily enough, at both Conferences, go figure!

Use technology to your best advantage to make your business as efficient as possible but don’t get carried away with the latest online tool just because it’s new and looks cool. 

  • Doodle – for scheduling with multiple people and your assistant
  • Postling – to manage all your social media
  • ReQall –  for voice to text while you’re on the road
  • Dropbox – for online file syncing and sharing on multiple computers
  • Google’s PasswordSafe – for keeping your passwords

The second message that came through loud and clear is the need for business owners, especially us organizers, to relinquish control of our business by hiring some help, outsourcing or bringing in partners and associates who complement our own skills.  My first step will be to hire a part-time personal assistant early in 2011 and then to start thinking about another staff member to work with me on client projects.  It is simply not possible to build a profitable long-term business without getting some help, not matter how hard it will be!

The final message is around the profitability subject and that is to get your finances under total control.  Build a business and personal budget and stick to it, work with a banker who understands small business, get a good tax accountant and incorporate your business as soon as it makes financial sense (for me that was three years ago). 

Yup, you guessed it, my first step before anything else is to book an appointment with a lawyer and get moving on the incorporation!  Ugh, the thought of the work involved in transitioning makes me cringe but I must soldier on.  Wish me luck!

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Last week I taught a class on contact management for Professional Organizers in Canada (POC).  Who knew there were so many systems out there?  And, we only touched on a few of them.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, as they are often referred to, can be anything from a simple spreadsheet to an extremely robust system such as ACT!  Personally I’m a fan of the Outlook contact management system that comes with the software I already have.  It seems to do everything I could possibly need it to do.  I can enter as much information on a customer as I wish and the system will keep track of every email, appointment and task I have related to that customer without me having to do a darn thing – I like that!

What you need your system to do is obviously the key when choosing a CRM system.  If I needed to track conversations and be able to analyze my customer base and print detailed reports then I could see the need for software such as ACT!, Goldmine, Maximizer, etc. 

Any organization with a sales force needs to have one of these systems in order to allow multiple users to access customer records and keep detailed information on prospects and opportunities.  And, from what I understand, these systems are essential when you need to generate regular reminders that it’s time to contact a customer.  Somehow, when I was in sales, I managed to keep track of all this information manually – looking back I have no idea how we did it!

I have a few thoughts on how to choose the right system:

  1. Keep in mind the complexity of the system and how much time it takes to maintain accurate records.
  2. Base your decision on what you need the system to do for you.
  3. Be certain that the system you choose integrates seamlessly with your email management program, calendar and tasks.
  4. Talk to an expert before making your final choice (check out The Red Group).

All that to say I have now discovered that I am so far from an expert on this subject it’s not even funny.  Perhaps something to add to my professional development list for 2011?

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I’m thinking about ‘To Do’s’ because there are just too darn many of them!  

If I look at my ‘To Do’s’ from this past week there are 51 items that I put on the various days this week and all but 4 of them are complete – this blogpost is the next one I can check off – yippee!  No wonder I’m exhausted – 51 ‘To Do’s’ crammed into an already fully booked week . . . . it’s so time for a nap.

I was chatting with a client yesterday who has finally got a reliable system for tracking her ‘To Do’s’ so they are now in one place.  Before she started using the Task list in Outlook she had ‘To Do’s’ in many places – on specially designed sheets just for that purpose, buried in her email inbox, in meeting notes, in her planning calendar and worst of all in her head!  The drawback to now having them all in one place is that she realizes how many there actually are which can be a bit scary. However, even though she is struggling with getting them done on the day she plans to do them, she does feel far more in control knowing they are all in one place and she can re-assign them throughout the week.

All this to say that making lists doesn’t actually accomplish anything other than gathering everything in one place and getting it out of your head.  Setting the intention to actually accomplish the specific items on the lists only happens when you make a concious decision on each and every item and decide when you will do it. You are usually going to have 3 categories of ‘To Do’s’ – do now, do soon, do someday.  The ‘do now’ and ‘do soon’ items should all be assigned a specific day whereas the ‘do someday’ will eventually either become ‘do soon’ or ‘do now’ or they will be deleted once you get really tired of looking at them on your list – ha!

You can effectively manage your ‘To Do’s’ with either a paper-based or electronic system.  I learned on paper 15 years ago from my friends at Priority Management and have been loosely following their system ever since.  I am in the process of considering switching to using Outlook but am delayed because I can’t decide which Smartphone to buy, darn it!  Without a Smartphone that gives me access to my Calendar and Tasks in Outlook there is no point switching from my paper system since I’m always out of my office and need my planning and organizing system by my side at all times.

I guess I’d better keep putting ‘Get a smartphone’ on my ‘To Do’ list until I finally get tired of looking at it and just take the plunge and buy one.

Well, kids, could go on and on, but gotta run and check some ‘To Do’s’ off my list!

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