Blog: Working From Home
Organizing Challenges for Work-from-Home Solopreneurs
As one person doing everything yourself for your business, do you find it difficult to stay organized?
For most solopreneurs it's a case of too little and too much.
1. Too Little Space
What happens is that a home-based business often starts small, so the space allotted to it is small. But then your business starts to grow. The little computer desk you started with that was tucked in the corner of the dining room may have been fine when all you had was your laptop. But it won't do now that you have a desktop computer and multiple pieces of other business equipment.
Soon you realize it's too inconvenient to have to get up and go across the room every time you want to print something or scan something. Before you know it you have stacks of projects on the floor. Next it starts to bother you that there's no handy place to keep your daily office supplies. These are signs it's time to get a real desk with drawers to keep files and supplies you need at your fingertips. Add a side table for your multifunction printer so it won't hog your desk space.
When these things happen, you also need to reconsider your office arrangement to better accommodate what your business needs now. Perhaps you should move the furniture around, add work surfaces and storage, or even relocate your office from the corner of a dual-purpose room to a place of its own.
Business growth often sneaks up on you. Just like a child who has outgrown his clothes, your business may have outgrown its initial home.
2. Too Much Paper
It's astonishing how much paper a small business can generate! The expanding file that used to hold your files is now bursting at the seams. You're wasting time because you can't quickly find what you're looking for. Customers have to wait while you locate their most recent order. It becomes clear you need a real filing system in a real file cabinet.
To create a filing system, take the time to analyze the kinds of paper you have to deal with. Usually, businesses need customer files, vendor files, financial files, project files, reference files, and a few other major categories. Separate your papers into broad categories like these and organize them into hanging files in your cabinet. It's not necessary to sub-divide most categories too narrowly. Only when a single file reaches 20+ pages does it become easier to create a separate file than just to flip through the papers in a single file.
Even a basic filing system like this will save you time looking for documents and will improve your morale every time you walk into an office that isn't cluttered with paper.
3. Too Little Time
When you're working by yourself, for yourself, the demands on your time can be overwhelming. It's very likely you simply do not have time do everything you want to, or even need to. As difficult as it may be, try to accept that, and work on identifying your true priorities, which are those activities that only you can do, and that will make your business successful. Create a weekly schedule that specifies times reserved for these activities.
Develop relationships with other small business owners to whom you can outsource the activities you don't have time for, aren't good at, or don't like doing. They may be looking for someone like you to outsource their tasks to!
Being a solopreneur has so many rewards. You enjoy flexibility, independence, variety in your work, as well as the satisfaction of building something yourself. Learn to manage the challenge of staying organized to enjoy it even more!
Every business is different. Comment below to tell me what YOUR greatest organizing challenges are!
posted on: 6/13/2010 9:00:00 AM by Elaine Quinn, Author & Speaker
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Working From Home
by Elaine Quinn, Author & Speaker
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Elaine Quinn is an internationally recognized expert on organizing, time management and productivity for the work-from-home solo professional. She is the author of "There's No Place Like Working From Home," filled with tips for solopreneurs who want to get organized, stay motivated and get things done. Learn more at www.NoPlaceLikeWorkingFromHome.com.
Favorite Books and Products
- Google Desktop Search
This free application finds documents on your own computer's hard drive just like a search engine finds information on the web.
Intuitive, inexpensive and easy-to-use database programs that create catalogues of your personal collection of books, reference manuals, audiovisual media or digital photo files.
Log into your password-protected websites automatically with this inexpensive and secure software that memorizes your login IDs and passwords. It also fills in online forms with just one click.
- "There's No Place Like Working From Home"
As the author, naturally this book is one of my favorites!