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Are you a disorganized small business owner in denial?

Wearing too many hats is nothing to brag about.  Too many disorganized small business owners are proud of the fact that they are doing it all.  While this seems to make you look or feel like a hero, it’s costing you time, money and ultimately profitable customers.

disorganized small business tips for business ownersA businessman overwhelmed by too much responsibility by Lisa F. Young via Shutterstock

 

Disorganization Kills Small Business Productivity

According to a 2017 Business Attitudes Study by Staples, disorganization appears to have a direct effect on a businesses success.

  • 53 percent of thriving/surviving small business owners describe their workplace as very organized, while only 23 percent see themselves as disorganized small business owners.
  • 1 in 3 business owners believe that workplace disorganization leads to less productivity
  • 3 in 4 owners with struggling or failing businesses believe disorganization has affected their company’s productivity

Rather than just share survey results or tips from experts, we’ve collected the voices of real and recovering disorganized small business owners from across the country and asked them to share their thoughts on how disorganization has impacted their business and what tips they have for other business owners.

“Your business should be a machine.” Says Says Joe Pardo from www.SuperJoePardo.com.  “Every step of the way should be an optimized process that enables business, not disables it. When you are disorganized you are saying to your team that it is ok for them to be disorganized. Disorganization creates chaos and inefficiencies that will add up to be more costly than most will ever realize. Increasing your cost of doing business and competing in your marketplace.”

Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital can relate. “There are so many small business owners literally grow into disorganization.  It’s a natural function of growing the business. “With so many competing priorities and being accountable only to yourself it is easy to let things slip… Something is one day late, then suddenly a week overdue.”

“I shudder to think about how much business I lost by forgetting proposal deadlines and not getting back to clients when I said I would.Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital “

Sometimes, there’s no way to avoid wearing all these hats and if that sounds like you, then your goal should be FOCUS!

“But the issue is they are not seeing the big picture”says Syed Irfan Ajmal, Growth Marketing Manager at Ridester. He’s got a point there. The big picture or focus seems to be more on how busy you are rather than how efficient you are.  And being focused on your goals and efficient in achieving them is what leads to results.

What’s the impact of being disorganized on your small business?

“Being disorganized is a huge waste of time.” says Jenn Wells, Jenn is a graphic & web designer who helps nonprofits and ethical businesses create change through strategic design. www.jennwellsdesign.com.

Cristian Rennella CEO & CoFounder of oMelhorTrato.com, noticed that two or three people from the team were doing the same tasks without knowing it or that the same client was given different answers or that a client was offered more than once a significant discount!

Ultimately, there’s no getting around the fact that disorganized small business owners are slowly killing their business.

Disorganization kills productivity and costs money.

“Disorganization can stifle productivity, decrease the engagement and morale of employees and harm customer relations. Any one of these left unchecked can eventually cost you customers, hurt the company financially and negatively impact growth.” John Moss, Managing Director at English Blinds 

The business owner sets the tone for the entire organization.  “When you organize yourself, you’ll start making money” says  Ashley Hampton, a licensed psychologist and business coach for professional women entrepreneurs.  It’s critical for the small business owner to recognize that their team is looking to them as a model.  So if you’re a disorganized and stressed out business owner, your team is probably feeling the same way and that drives inefficiencies.

How does being disorganized cost you customers?

Being a disorganized small business owner isn’t just something that impacts YOUR productivity, it also has an impact on your bottom line.  Disorganized businesses are failing businesses and you can see how this happens.

“Every mistake you make with a client is one more reason for them to leave and find someone who has their sh*t together.” — Jenn Wells, a graphic & web designer who helps nonprofits and ethical businesses create change through strategic design. www.jennwellsdesign.com.

“If a customer is waiting for you to do something, such as check an item is in stock, contact a supplier, or introduce a new feature to your software, then they will only have so much patience.  Staying organized is key.”  — Alex Winston, Managing Director www.ppcprotect.com

In other words, you often look unprepared, which in turn gives the impression that you are not professional. While that is an inaccurate perception, it could impact the way your customer views you, your work, and the decision to rehire you or refer you to a friend.

Organization Tips for Disorganized Business Owners

1. Use a project management system

Several of our small business owner respondents recommended some type of project management system; Asana and Trello were a few of the most popular team project management tools mentioned.

Whenever the entire team is using the same tool, organized business owners could actually see how long specific tasks took, where there were challenges and this made inventory planning, tracking and resource allocation much easier.

Microsoft Office 365 was another popular tool that came up. “Office 365’s calendar is something I couldn’t be without. We have offices all over the world so time zones can cause issues if we aren’t organized. Colleagues have access to my calendar so they know when I’m free if they need to contact me which means the workload can be streamlined and I know exactly how my day ahead looks. – — Kashif Naqshbandi, Chief Marketing Officer at Anderson Frank

2. Schedule Everything

Disorganized small business owners are too optimistic about time and how much is actually available.  The downside is that whatever project you’re working on usually takes twice as long and costs twice as much. The key is to identify and eliminate “wasted time”.

Include a little buffer into your schedule.  If you set a meeting for 1pm — make sure that you include travel time and even a short break for yourself before your next call or meeting. That means that your schedule reflects 2 hours for the meeting instead of just one.

“Calendly helps me eliminate back-and-forth emails to set meeting times. Prospects and clients can view my calendar anytime, giving them the power to set a phone appointment with me in minutes. Then we use Trello to manage projects and tasks” says Markelle Harden, Chief Content Coordinator from| www.classyinbound.com”

3. Motivate Employees

Everyone loves to say that employees are a small business’ greatest asset.  Where the disorganized small business owner fails is in expecting their employees to motivate themselves.  “Keeping employees motivated and engaged is the primary role of the small business owner as a leader,” says Tom Wills, owner of UrbanFlower in Sydney, Australia.

Gallup estimates the cost of poor management and lost productivity from employees in the U.S. who are not engaged or actively disengaged to be between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion per year.

“Unhappy employees who leave work at the end of the week feeling worn down and unmotivated, aren’t being their most productive”.  says Joseph Martin, http://hijoemartin.com, When employees are feeling the same way as the owner; disorganized, overwhelmed and stressed out, this naturally shows in their interaction with customers and ultimately creates a bad customer experience.

Here are a few tips on how to keep employees motivated and energized:

  • Be flexible with work hours, sometimes time is more valuable than money.
  • Check in with employees and give them the tools they need to be efficient.
  • Include them in implementing new efficiency processes.

 

4. Define a Process

If you’re one of the disorganized business owners out there – take heart.  Every one of the folks who shared their tips was exactly where you were.  In fact, being disorganized is a pre-requisite for getting yourself and your business organized and on track.

The key is to define a process and then set up systems to support it.  Sometimes business owners find value in engaging their teams, employees, and associates in the process and sometimes they set the structure themselves.  Whichever way is right for you — here are some ideas and the results they generated.

5. Audit your business and look for inefficiencies.

“Start by looking at customer complaints and employee frustrations.  These are often red flags for inefficiencies where you can improve your process.”

— Dayne Shuda, Founder  https://ghostblogwriters.com

6. Have a common filing system to avoid miscommunication.

“Every aspect of the business is in a different file, and everyone working on a given project, leaves notes and details there, along with a date and their name. Everyone in the company has access to all the files, this way we avoid pointless questions, everyone is up to date, and nothing is missed. The system even has functionalities where reminders flash in front of you if you forget something.” 

— Jane Wilson, Head of Marketing and Social for Fantastic Cleaners in Melbourne, Australia)

Put Your Process Documents in the Cloud

“The busier we got as a business the more things became difficult to manage. By moving over to the cloud, no matter where you are, what time it is or what you’re working on you have access to everything on your smart device. It also is a great benefit for businesses that have teams spread across multiple locations that can collaborate centrally with cloud-based technologies” 

— Damien Buxton, Managing Director, www.midascreative.co.uk

7. Use Google Docs to get everyone on the same page

Thanks to defining processes on the basis of which each activity is organized step by step, we were able to increase our productivity as a team by 24.1% (yes, AMAZING!).

— Cristian Rennella CEO & CoFounder of oMelhorTrato.com.

8. Be responsive to your customers!

“A great solution is to ensure your support team is using a powerful online form that’ll collect important customer information, then send responses right to the customer support’s inbox.”

— Annabel Maw, Marketing Communications Specialist at JotForm, @AnnabelLMaw

9. And Finally…GET HELP

Emily Tanner,  from The MLE Agency, recommends getting help in your business.  You can’t do it all yourself and putting too many things on your plate will just lead to more disorganization.

So, are you brave enough to put away all of your many hats?  The more organized you and your business are, the more money you’ll make.  The investment is certainly worth it.