I run our family business, the Lucerne Tree Farm, while I homeschool, and it has been a stress and a juggle to do both at times. Over the years I have found some simple methods that keep the day running smoothly and keep me fairly sane.
Create Simple Systems
You all know that I love practical plans and simple systems! Here are a practical, simple business systems that have helped me work more efficiently ~
- To quickly answer detailed emails, I created canned responses that cover almost every topic and question, so that I can take just a few minutes to reply to emails and personalize that reply. (I will give a tutorial on this in my next blog post.)
- I love an empty inbox and so I created several email folders and I immediately move new emails to these folders once I have read and answered them so that I can keep my inbox as empty as possible. For me personally, there is nothing more draining than opening up Gmail and seeing long lists of emails in my inbox. An empty inbox at the end of a day is very satisfying. Obviously, there are some emails that remain in the inbox until an issue is addressed or processed, but generally, all the emails live in folders and not in my inbox.
- I have very simple physical filing systems – a file with an index and plastic sleeves where I can store all slips and papers.
- I keep a running client order list in the front of my diary/ order book. This helps me have a “bird’s-eye view” of orders, invoice numbers, clients that have paid or require follow-up emails, etc. By the end of the year, I have the entire business summarised on just a few pages. The date is the reference back to the diary page where all the details are noted, and the invoice number takes me back to the document on the computer. It is so simple, yet so effective!
- I use coloured highlighters on my running list to keep track of payments, tracking number, special delivery notes etc.. At a glance, I can see everything!
- I number our invoices by numbers first and names second: Year + sequential numbers + names; or Month+day +name+abbreviated titles, so that the saved documents are kept in numerical order. I have set my computer files to read from the most recent to the last. That way, new orders are always on top and easy to find.
- I have pre-written invoice templates in MSWord where I can simply add the invoice number, client information and date at the top and the specific order information in the body. I open the template, Select all (Control +A), Copy all (Control +C), Open a new document (Control +N) and Paste the copy (Control +V) and in 4 clicks, I am ready to fill in the invoice.
- I save everything to Dropbox. This has saved all our business information when my laptop crashed a few years ago. It is also a fabulous way for my hubby and me to work on the same documents from different computers or tablets or smartphones.
- I created a very comprehensive business website and refer clients to the website rather than spend 2 hours talking through specific, detailed information. Most new clients’ phone calls and email questions cover the same information, so I also include hyperlinks to the website in emails because the client can view the photos and detailed information there instead of having to write everything out.
I hope that these practical tips help you. If you need any more information or have helpful suggestions, please share in the comments below.