Tupperware: Organizing Your Business Ideas
This morning I was helping interior designer Jackie Hergott figure out to do things more efficiently in her business so that she could spend more time doing what she loves and less time doing the things that sap her energy.
Through her business, Chameleon House of Design, Jackie helps people create beautiful home and office spaces. She loves to play with ideas, source suppliers, and pull together concepts. She adores meeting with clients, choosing paint colours, and shopping for furniture.
She hates organizing her office, creating documents, filling out paperwork, sending out invoices, and filing GST. The trouble is, all of the above things need to get done in order for Jackie’s business to be successful.
When you’re a solo-preneur or small business owner, it’s especially true that time is money. Inefficiency not only has the potential to hamstring your business but, in today’s competitive marketplace, it can literally close you down overnight.
To get more efficient right away, Jackie is going to do the smart thing and hire a bookkeeping service. This is a great place to start, and she will immediately reduce her stress by doing so.
However, to succeed in business, Jackie will need to continue to create efficiencies in every aspect of her business. In addition her finances, she will need to consider the areas of data, people, facilities, sales and marketing, and customer service.
This process can feel pretty overwhelming. But it’s actually not difficult to get started.
Here’s where the "Tupperware" idea comes in. To move forward you start by collecting information and ideas and putting them in “containers”. Then when you get a few minutes, you go back and figure out what to do with the info. Easy, eh? Bigger businesses have all kinds of fancy names for these processes, but this is essentially what it comes down to.
Containers come in many forms, of which Tupperware is probably the archetypal one. But you can use any kind of container that works for you, including notebooks, word processing or paper files, blank spaces on your Outlook calendar, or sections in your day planner. If you’re more listening-oriented, you can purchase a voice recorder and/or transcription software and make verbal notes to yourself when you get a minute. The main thing is to “catch” the ideas or information, and put them in a place where you can consider them later.
Now, here's the real clincher - the "later" part. You'll need to organize that too, or else your ideas will sit unused in the spot where you left them. So go back to your Outlook calendar or planner, and select a time when your task is to review what's in your various "idea containers". Make sure you don't let anything else interfere with this time. Often I do this on a Friday afternoon. Occasionally I set aside a whole day for this kind of reflection.
For each idea container, create lists of activities suggested by the ideas. Then slot time for THESE things in your calendar as well. Now, don't make this too complicated. If you're feeling bogged down, just stick with your main priorities.
So this week, for example, Jackie is going to begin creating standard processes for client interactions. She will be collecting her ideas about what needs to get covered in initial sessions with clients. She'll be considering what data she will need to be tracking in order to make strategic decisions later. And what service packages might help her decrease admin time and increase R&D and billable time.
As Jackie goes through her week, she’s going to file away in her “containers” all the ideas that will inevitably come to her in the shower, on her way to an appointment, or while she’s thinking about something else. Then by the next time we meet, we can convert her ideas into the action plans that will fuel her unique recipe for success.
For more ideas and resources that can help your business grow, visit www.ready2grow.com