Hey guys! Welcome back and thank you so much for tuning in again this week on the JD CNC Blog! Some of you may be wondering how on earth we stay organized over here, beings we all have full time jobs, as well as keeping up with everything that we do. Well, this week we are going to share some tips and tricks to keep in mind when running a product and service based small business! These tips and tricks are not backed by anything other than our personal experience, so please take what you can from this and what doesn’t apply to you, pass on to someone else that it could help!
Figure 1: Jackie, the owner, talking with customers.
TIP #1: CLEAN AREA OF WORK
We have found that the best way to stay productive and efficient is to keep your workplace clean and organized. Not only does this mean wherever you are storing/creating your products, but this also means your place where the business paperwork is being done too. You are most efficient when you can find what you need, when you need it, and not have to search for 30 minutes just to find where you put the tape, stamps, tools, etc.
We know from experience that running a business while maintaining a job, social life, and sleep schedule can be CRAZY! Sometimes putting that drill back in its case or on the shelf seems like the world's most daunting task. "You’ll just get it tomorrow” … we have all been there. We are telling you right now, though, if you take the few extra minutes to clean up your current task or put that drill back before going home, you will be amazed at how much more efficient you will be throughout the week.
TIP #2: ORGANIZE YOUR ORDERS
When taking orders for a new business it can get overwhelming quite quickly. Make sure that you have some means to keep track of orders and sales. This will help you in so many ways including:
· Tax Season
· Scheduling Orders
· Details of Orders
· Tracking Profits for the Month
· Seeing which products are most profitable
…and the list can go on. Whether you have a website or online platform that keeps track of your orders for you, or you go old school and do it by hand…it is an ABSOLUTE MUST. Start off organized and continue it on throughout the business's lifetime!
TIP #3: SEPARATE PERSONAL AND BUSINESS LIFE
Separating your business from your personal life can be quite tricky in today’s day and age. A lot of the population is now working from home or working remotely. In most cases, when starting a business, you start it from home as well. So having your personal and business life under the same roof can cause a lot of chaos. We recommend having separate locations/desk space to do your personal bills and paperwork for both sides of life. We also recommend having separate bank accounts for both, which again will allow you to stay organized and efficient come tax season!
TIP #4: MAKE A SCHEDULE
On top of taking all of your orders and keeping track of specifics regarding them… you need to make sure that you have scheduled enough time to:
1. Get materials/products ordered… if not already in stock.
2. Create/personalize the products.
3. Package the products.
4. Ship the products.
This takes a lot of time and if you have multiple orders coming in, you need to make sure that on top of everything else you have going on, you give yourself enough time to complete these tasks. Giving yourself enough time not only means time to do everything mentioned above, as well as time scheduled in for anything unexpected… back order of materials, machine issues, rush orders, etc.
Figure 2: Scheduling and Organization
Not only do you need to schedule time to get your orders out, in your planner or calendar, but you can also schedule and keep track of meetings, events, and large holidays coming up that you need to be prepared for. By keeping track of all of this it will help you stay organized and prepared. Which ultimately helps reduce stress!
TIP #5: DO NOT OVER BOOK YOURSELF
Burnout is such a large issue when starting a small business and therefore it is EXTREMELY important to not over book yourself. With using everything mentioned above you can help yourself to not overschedule. You may want to take EVERY order for EVERY customer as to build your customer base and make some profit, but you need to make sure that you are very careful when doing this.
From personal experience, this can be very detrimental to your business and your customer base and connections if you do not reach deadlines, or because you were rushing the order isn’t of the best quality. Not only does this effect your business, staying up all night to get your orders done can greatly affect your mental health and effect personal relationships around you. We understand pulling all-nighters every once and a while to keep things on track, but once this starts becoming a habit you may need to make some changes in order to keep the business going.
TIP #6: ASK FOR HELP
We understand… more than most… that pride is a very powerful thing, HOWEVER… it is okay to ask for help! Sometimes, everything can seem to land on the same day or throughout the same week and it can be very stressful. If this happens or you can see in your schedule that it is going to happen, it is okay to ask your friends or family to help you out. They don’t have to do the heavy lifting, but they can help keep you on track by cleaning your work area, running errands, packaging, and mailing products, etc. It is okay to ask for help when things become overwhelming. If these weeks continue to keep happening and you are constantly growing and taking on more orders, you may even want to think about hiring some part time help.
TIP #7: ONLY TAKE ON 1-2 “PROJECTS” PER MONTH
Now, before going into a TIZZY and saying, “Well how are we going to learn new things?” or “My company is project and personalization based!” … hear us out! When we say projects, we are talking about orders that you have never done or never tried to do before. Orders that have new material never tested or ones that have a completely different design concepts that need to be thought out. Yes, there are smaller orders that are considered projects that involve some personalization, but if an order is going to take A LOT of research and development, give yourself a couple weeks to really get into it, figure out what works best, and give your customer the best product possible.
Figure 3: Group Collaboration.
It is okay to let your customers know that you can do something, but because of it being new to you and the company, it will take some extra time for some research. You are a new company, and this is how you learn, people will understand. By only allowing yourself 1-2 large in-depth projects a month, you give yourself ample time to learn, get the project out, and hopefully use these new skills and designs to better your business and product line.
TIP #8: HAVE GOOD PROCESSES IN PLACE
This seems like it should only be for large corporations, but trust us, it is not. By putting in place processes for:
· Uploading new products
· Creating prices
...and literally everything else… you allow yourself to get into a good groove with how you do things. You figure out how a process works most efficiently, and you stick to it. Not only is this great for you, but when you begin training others to work for you, you will be absolutely astonished at how hard it can be to teach someone when it is all just in your head!
If you could get these processes written down and documented, you can have something to hand new employees to refer to whenever they are trying to learn. It will be less frustrating for you as the owner and less frustrating for the new employee. They will feel much more secure in their job if they do not always have to ask you how to do simple tasks and have something to refer to and learn from.
TIP #9: TAKE A DAY
We know that this can be hard to do sometimes, but honestly, it’s necessary. By taking a day, we do not mean to just push every single thing aside and not be productive. We just mean that if life becomes overwhelming it is okay to take a day and work on some smaller easier tasks. Tasks that can be done without much effort or thought, but that still need done. Go over your orders and make sure that you are on task for the month. Clean the shop and organize your desk. Get online and look for new vendors, events to go to, or new products that your customers would like.
You do not always need to be head deep in creating products and being stressed out. This day is meant to get your head back in check. Use this day to end your workday a little earlier than usual and have a relaxing evening to get some sleep and start fresh the next day. You can't constantly be taking days off, but every once in a while, it is okay. You can still be productive while having a less stressful day than normal. These days are a must!
TIP #10: SOURROUND YOURSELF WITH A GOOD SUPPORT SYSTEM
Honestly if you stuck around this long, thank you! You have gotten to the last tip and honestly, in our eyes, it is by far the most important thing in running a new business. This may not directly seem like it is under the topic of organization and efficiency, but a good support system can affect all aspects of life when starting a new business...including your stress level. You want to surround yourself with people that understand what you are doing and understand that you are going to be busy a little more than a normal person. Find people that are 110% into what you are doing. People that will help you and support you and help you find the strength to not give up when things get tough.
Figure 4: Jackie's amazing support system.
Understanding, compassionate, and patient people are great to surround yourself with. Whether that be friends, family, or significant others, without this great support system you won’t have someone to be there for you when life isn’t going 100% great, or you're stressed, or you just need a day and someone to understand. This will allow for your life to be less stressful and ultimately you will be more efficient. When you find this group of people, life and business will probably still be chaotic, but it won't be as hard to deal with. They help take some of the weight off your shoulders and give you the strength to keep on doing what you’re passionate about doing!
We hope that these little tips on staying organized and efficient are of some use to our fellow entrepreneurs! It’s not an easy task to turn something that you are passionate about into something that you can do for a living. When you keep yourself organized and destressed, it makes life and business a little more fun and a little easier to get through! One day you will look back at all the hours you are putting in and you will be grateful that you didn’t give up and grateful for the people you’ve surrounded yourself with. Start your business off organized and you will get to where you want to be sooner than you can imagine!
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